2003 Ford E-150

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2003 Ford E-150 Review

Hard to handle gas-guzzler offers more space and hauling ability than minivan relatives.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2003 Ford E-150 van carries on a tradition that has been going since 1960 and involves over six million units sold. It doesn’t handle like a car. Fuel economy ranges from bad to worse. It doesn’t look glamorous, stylish, or cool, but it marks one of the greatest workhorse vehicles in American automotive history. It does more and offers more than the few rivals that try to match its value. If a buyer needs a vehicle for a small business, contracting, or shuttling, that buyer should definitely check out the E-150.

The Range

Body Styles: full-size van
Engines: 4.2-liter V-6, 4.6-liter V-8, 5.4-liter V-8
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Ford E-150 XL, Ford E-150 XLT

What's New

For 2003, the family friendly Traveler Package has been dropped from the options list for the E-150 XLT, but running boards, two-tone exterior paint, and a rear cargo organizer join the Chateau Package. The Traveler Package features remain available as standalone options. All models get a standard set of power exterior mirrors. An upgraded set comes with convex blind-spot mirrors and puddle lamps as new options. The XLT comes equipped with dual-illuminated vanity mirrors. Other alterations involve minor exterior style details.

Exterior

The 2003 Ford E-150 half-ton, full-size van comes in two trims: XL and XLT. The E-150 comes equipped for either recreational use as the Econoline Wagon or commercial use as the Econoline Van. The E-150 only comes in one, regular length of 211.9 inches and not the extended length of 231.9 inches like its bigger siblings. In keeping with the theme of configuring to any van need, be it commercial or recreational, the E-150 comes with 16-inch tires with steel rims and most everything else remains optional. Exterior options include functional items such as a towing package and shorter axle ratios for enhanced towing ability. Most come with a limited-slip differential. Power door mirrors and alloy wheels provide options.

Interior

The interior of the E-150 proves highly configurable to any and all needs and starts off rather basic to accomplish this goal: two vinyl bucket seats, air-conditioning, tilt steering wheel adjustment, and a two-speaker stereo. Options include a second-row bench and third-row bench for a people hauling, as well as somewhat luxurious items such as captain's chairs, cloth upholstery, cruise control, a six-speaker stereo with a cassette deck, and a power group with keyless entry and power windows and locks.

The cabin looks rather bare, with unadorned walls and plain floors to accommodate needs for shuttling, contracting, or any type of gear hauling for a small business. Because the E-150 serves any van need, only budget, imagination, and goals limit the configuration.

Performance & Handling

The base engine for the E-150, a 191-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-6, produces 244 lb-ft of torque. The optional 4.6-liter V-8 produces 225 horsepower and 286 lb-ft of torque, while the optional 5.4-liter V-8 develops 255 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. All engines mate to a four-speed automatic transmission. When properly equipped, the E-150 Van can tow as much as 6800 pounds. Maximum payload ratings for the E-150 range from 1700 to 2045 pounds. For family use the 4.2-liter makes the best choice with the larger engines being better suited to commercial use. The E-150 seems like a big van, yet all of the engine options handle traffic situations with the larger engines only needed for hauling, towing, and commercial use.

A driver does not purchase a van for its handling. A trip through the rain, over rough roads or on a winding road reminds the driver of this simple fact. Handling does not seem that good. Highway winds wreak havoc; the grip feels unsure; steering provides a form of weight training, and hard stops can take some space to accomplish. Noise levels run from acceptable to frustrating, depending on configuration. People buy this vehicle out of need, not desire.

Safety

All E-150 vans come standard with dual front airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and front seat belt pretensioners. Side-impact airbags remain unavailable. In NHTSA testing, the E-150 earns four out of five stars for driver and passenger safety and two stars for rollover safety.

EPA Fuel Economy

Ford E-150 XL/XLT: 12/16 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Many configurations
  • Cargo-hauling ability

You Won't Like

  • Lacks convenience features
  • Engines pale in comparison to GM vans

Sum Up

Hard to handle gas-guzzler offers more space and hauling ability than minivan relatives.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Chevrolet Express
  • GMC Savana

See the New 2014 E-150.

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