When a Van Beats a Pickup

The Ford Transit 150 proves why small commercial vans beat pickup trucks in cargo-hauling practicality.

Open wide: Compared with even 2wd pickups, the Transit van’s load height and side-door access is unsurpassed for most cargo-hauling duties. (Ford)

As a utilitarian tool, the 2021 Great American Pickup truck has some fundamental flaws. Its open bed jeopardizes any cargo that’s valuable (exposing your payload to the world) or not waterproof. Worse, however, is the pickup’s steadily escalating tailgate-to-ground height. This, of course, is a result of side-impact standards and the market’s preference for 4-wheel drive.

2021 Ford Transit 150 LR (Lindsay Brooke)

Rolling or lifting large and heavy items up onto the tailgate and into even a 2wd pickup bed has become a daunting task requiring two or three people. Their tailgate-to-ground dimensions have risen to impractical heights. In the case of Ford, a Ranger XLT’s gate is 33.2 inches (843 mm) above pavement. The new F-150’s gate towers 33.9 inches (861 mm) above. That’s why when you need to transport, as I did recently, an apartment’s worth of couches, beds and refrigerators, and a 350-pound (159-kg) vintage motorcycle, a Ford Transit Cargo van beats an open-bed vehicle every time.

The short-wheelbase Transit 150 LR that faultlessly served me offered a mercifully low, 28.9-in. (734 mm) load-floor height. This made rolling the bike inside a one-person job. Past-generation pickups used to be this easy! Handy D-rings behind the Transit’s seats enabled a rapid tie-down. The Transit also gobbled the home furnishings and appliances far easier than a pickup could, thanks to its large, sliding side door.

The short-wheelbase Transit 150 LR offers a mercifully low, 28.9-in. (734 mm) load-floor height. (Ford)

Ford’s 3.5-L gas V6, 10-speed automatic and 3.73 drive axle delivered ample grunt (SAE-rated 262 lb-ft) and 19.2-mpg efficiency for my long-distance haulage. Yes, the box is a bit boomy on the highway. But my back and my secure, dry cargo compensated nicely.