Technical comparison of Sprinter 4x4 vs 2020 Transit AWD?

Can some technical members and or anyone with first hand experience of both now the that the Transit AWD is available in the wild compare the 4x4 vs AWD systems of the two? Corporate marketing is pretty poor for both platforms. My use case will be looking for best traction in the rain, followed by gravel forest service roads and then snow.
 

asimba2

2016 4cyl High Roof 144
I'll add what I know. Fulltime AWD (i.e. no stopping and nothing to engage). There are five driving modes including normal, eco, slippery, mud/ruts and tow/haul. Each setting changes the behavior, sensitivity and responsiveness of the drivetrain. The system can send 100% of the power to the front or the rear (or split it at any ratio inbetween), depending on which has more traction. There's a display on the LCD center console that shows exactly how much torque is being proportioned to each wheel.
 
I'll add what I know. Fulltime AWD (i.e. no stopping and nothing to engage). There are five driving modes including normal, eco, slippery, mud/ruts and tow/haul. Each setting changes the behavior, sensitivity and responsiveness of the drivetrain. The system can send 100% of the power to the front or the rear (or split it at any ratio inbetween), depending on which has more traction. There's a display on the LCD center console that shows exactly how much torque is being proportioned to each wheel.
This is the Ford AWD system? How do you think the two systems compare?
 

asimba2

2016 4cyl High Roof 144
That's the Ford.

The Sprinter has open differentials all-round. Power will take the path of least resistance and it relies on the brakes to slow spinning wheels. Torque split is fixed at 33% front, 67% rear.

Information is just now coming out on the Ford, but there are a few videos on youtube showing how it performs in snow and on rollers. My observation from my keyboard is, it looks promising. I would love to get my hands on one for full testing.
 
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Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Ford appears to use a electronic center clutch to control power transfer to the front wheels. The rear is direct drive from my reading, and will always receive power. The front clutch can be set to 100% duty cycle, which will act like a 4x4 with no center diff for short periods. Extended usage, such as crawling over rocky terrain, or trying to get out of a rut/bog can result in overheating the clutch/Tcase. I believe at that point the system reduces power? I have not driven one myself, so this is all secondhand.

I would also point out the transits front axle/suspension is not very heavy (Appears to be lighter than the sprinter even).
 

Michlb

Active member
I test drove one. It handles impressively and is very comfortable. But the focus of the Ford is clearly everyday use including ice and snow, but the platform is so low that I don’t see any off-road use whatsoever other than maybe fire roads. I suspect that my RWD will do better than the Ford AWD with regards to clearance.

But the drive is awesome. In a curve that I took a little faster, it felt like the van was sticking to the road.

But no Diesel and there is nothing “eco” about their 300+ hp Ecoboost engine.

My guess is that it is a much more capable snow vehicle than the Sprinter will ever be but that otherwise the Transit AWD’s use will be very limited. Of course there will be plenty of people who will offer modification kits to raise the platform. And plenty of service stations in every town. I compare this to my first Sprinter maintenance this morning which was ... interesting.

I welcome the competition with the hope that Mercedes will finally offer a better 4x4 platform. I personally doubt that I would switch to Ford. The product needs to look good, not just feel good. And the 2019 looks just awesome compared to the Transit.
 

HarryN

Active member
I test drove one. It handles impressively and is very comfortable. But the focus of the Ford is clearly everyday use including ice and snow, but the platform is so low that I don’t see any off-road use whatsoever other than maybe fire roads. I suspect that my RWD will do better than the Ford AWD with regards to clearance.

But the drive is awesome. In a curve that I took a little faster, it felt like the van was sticking to the road.

But no Diesel and there is nothing “eco” about their 300+ hp Ecoboost engine.

My guess is that it is a much more capable snow vehicle than the Sprinter will ever be but that otherwise the Transit AWD’s use will be very limited. Of course there will be plenty of people who will offer modification kits to raise the platform. And plenty of service stations in every town. I compare this to my first Sprinter maintenance this morning which was ... interesting.

I welcome the competition with the hope that Mercedes will finally offer a better 4x4 platform. I personally doubt that I would switch to Ford. The product needs to look good, not just feel good. And the 2019 looks just awesome compared to the Transit.
My perception is that Ford views the Quigley option as the way to have a more off road experience with the Transit. Their factory option is - as you mentioned - focused on every day driving and going up to Tahoe to ski and (sometimes ) avoiding the need for chains.

If only Ford made a longer wheel base version of the Transit....

Similar to you , I think that diesel is a great fuel for this type of vehicle, but CA AQMD doesn't so buying new diesel vehicles just keeping getting tougher.
 

warx

Member
So I sat in a Transit yesterday as I thought I should at least check it out. Not an AWD but at $44K had some options (148", highest roof, 8" SYNC etc.). Was not as bad as I thought. I was thinking it was going to be cramped leg-wise and a terrible dash. I'm 5'11" and the fit was OK. The seats although not much bucketing, nor powered were comfy-ish in the few moments I was seated. The sliding door actually took a few swings to close - but I had that you-break-it-you-buy-it fear. Definitely needed the highest roof to stand in the rear.

Things I'd liked to have checked out would be the cameras, cruise, collision detection and long distance sitting. I've had SYNC 3 in my Focus RS and thought it was fine. I know Ford is doing the 2L four diesel option later on - I wonder if MB will ever go the other way with a V6 gas 4x4 :) I would love to idle for an hour or so!
 

T town

Member
Reviving a dead thread. This video shows the AWD Transit getting out of a mud rut. It’s a good example of something that may have been quite an issue for a 2WD van. Skip to 5 minutes.
Watching the vid it seems like it’s the first time the guy took it on a dirt road. He says it was a SEMA build.

 

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