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2008 Ford Econoline Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Ford Econoline was new.

The 2008 Ford E-Series vans offer a good choice of powerful engines and have decent handling for a van. "Getting the Econoline up to speed was never an issue," says Edmunds, "and ride and handling characteristics at those elevated speeds were also a pleasant surprise."

Acceleration and Power

The Ford E-Series vans come with a variety of engines. The low-end choice is a 4.6-liter 16-valve V8 that generates 225 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque. This engine is a bit weak given the van's weight. In fact, Consumer Guide says simply, "Avoid the underpowered 225-hp V8." Like the rest of the E-Series engines, this one has not been rated by the Environmental Protection Agency for its fuel economy.

Next in line is a 5.4-liter 16-valve V8 that can produce 255 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, which is more in line with the van's bulk. "This powerplant, hooked up to a four-speed automatic, proved more than adequate for our hauling needs throughout the loan period," says Edmunds. Consumer Guide adds that this engine "is the best all-around choice for typical family use." Cars.com feels the engine is "strong enough to deliver satisfying and safe response."

The two top-of-the-line engines, intended more for cargo hauling than for family hauling, are a 6.8-liter 20-valve V10 that puts out 305 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and a 6.0-liter diesel 32-valve V8 that produces 235 horsepower and an impressive 440 pound-feet of torque.

The two lower-end engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The two large engines (or the 5.4-liter in cutaway and stripped chassis models) have a TorqShift™ five-speed automatic transmission. Reviews are silent on the quality of these transmissions.

Handling and Braking

Handling isn't something at which the E-Series vans excel. "Ford's Econoline van drives exactly as you would expect an outdated three-ton box to drive," says Automobile Magazine. "Steering is loose, and the brakes are soft." Consumer Guide finds these vans "clumsy to park, a chore on twisty roads, easily buffeted by highway crosswinds." The kindest words about the E-Series handling come from Cars.com: "After a few minutes behind the wheel, it's nearly possible to forget the E-150's truck origins."

The quality of the ride fares a little better in reviews. Consumer Guide finds the ride "Class-average but acceptable, though 4th- and 5th-row riders in extendeds are over the rear axle and feel most every bump." Cars.com says, "Ride quality is decent, but it's not as well cushioned as most minivans." Edmunds thinks that the twin I-beam front suspensions and live rear axle "aren't exactly cutting-edge designs, but they kept the van relatively stable and confident." However, at least one member of their reviewer's family remains satisfied with the experience: "This author would have preferred a stiffer ride and tighter steering, but his wife found the E-150 to be pleasant whether sitting in the passenger or driver seat (quite an endorsement from a former Honda Odyssey owner)."

The power-assisted recirculating ball steering system on the E-Series is acceptable by van standards. "With relatively light steering, an E-150 maneuvers almost as easily as a smaller van," says Cars.com. "On the other hand, more effort is necessary when parking the van and when judging your position on the highway." Of the four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, Consumer Guide says, "Stopping power OK but not up to minivan standards."

Review Last Updated: 1/14/10

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