After seeing a couple Ford E-350s on the road and freaking out about how small they are, I decided to pay a visit to the Ford dealership and take interior measurements myself. Up until then I had been working off of measurements from the Ford website, and I had a feeling their numbers might be fudged a little. Well, not necessarily fudged, but I was sure they listed extreme maximums. For example, Ford lists cargo length at 140 inches. But that’s not truly useable space. What if the driver’s seat is leaned back at a comfortable angle? How much does the door jamb take off? Off to the dealership I went.
First stop was the Chevy dealership, since I’m also entertaining the idea of a Chevy Express. The salesman who stepped forward to help me was… oddly not at all salesman-ish. I had heard somewhere that the bodies for passenger vans are built more sturdily than cargo vans, and I wasn’t sure if that was true, so I posed the question to my new friend, Antonio. I could tell that he had no idea what on Earth I was talking about. He simply shrugged, and said, “No, I don’t think so.”
I told him I was considering the Chevy Express and the Ford E-350. So I asked, “Why do you think Chevy is better than Ford?”
A deer in headlights look crossed his face. I got the feeling that this guy drove a Toyota or a Honda. “Um, Chevy has some things… some characteristics that some people like better.”
“Characteristics like what?”
“Um… you know, just some things. People like them better, depending on what they like.”
Antonio, really? You couldn’t even BS your way through that? How about this one? “Do you think Chevy is more reliable than Ford?”
He shook his head. “Eh, no, they’re the same. But, uh, I guess some people choose based on price.”
Well Christ on a cracker, Antonio, you get an award for being the least pushy salesman on the planet. I took my measurements, thanked him, and left.
My visit to the Ford dealership was less than fruitful. There wasn’t a single salesperson in sight, despite the 10 potential customers wandering around. A quick lap around their lot revealed exactly zero extended body vans, and rather than wade through another awkward conversation, I decided to hightail it out of there.
I didn’t get all the measurements I was hoping for, but I did learn that all the measurements listed on manufacturers’ websites are extreme maximums. If one is using those measurements to plan interior layout, It’s probably best to subtract 10-12 inches from their listed cargo length, 4 inches off the height, and about 4 inches off the width. My little freak out moment was not unwarranted. I’m looking for a van that has at least 140 inches of useable cargo length. The Chevy Express came in at about 130. The search for a suitable vehicle continues.