So we’ve had Black Betty for about a month now. We sure have gotten a lot of questions about our new ride and I thought doing a van tour would be fun for me, maybe others(?). Before we got the van I looked at a lot of youtube videos and blogs about large family use/organization of Ford Transits to see how they were used on a day to day basis. I’m kind of a geek like that (surprise, surprise), but they all proved to be very helpful, and maybe someone in who’s looking to purchase a Transit will find this post helpful. Here to serve 🙂
The van originally had 15 seats, but we have removed 4 so now are down to 11. When new baby arrives in July/Aug, we will have 7 of those 11 seats full. The van has some neat features that we have found very useful, yet is still kind of industrial, and we like that too! Black Betty is very functional for us and so far we have found it fits well for our family!
*Disclaimer: I am no good at taking pictures in a vehicle and Ruth was climbing around in the van the entire time. There are random floor mats all over because we are in the process of getting some more permanent ones for each row. There is snow all over the floor and some dirt because we live in Iowa and apparently it snows and rains relentlessly in April. Whatevs. I did my best.
For her formal introduction, here is Black Betty, the 2017 T-350 Transit van:
The dash and front seats. My dear husband will not like this picture as I left the steering wheel upside down after I parked. Whoops. The things I especially like are the backup camera, the abundance of cupholders, and the 3 (or 4?) 12V converters. Honestly the steering wheel feels a bit small for the size of vehicle it is, but otherwise the front is comfortable. It honestly drives like a minivan and I think has pretty good get-up-and-go. J could list off the host of other features and specs, but I’m just highlighting what I find convenient and helpful!
Here is getting in on the passenger side. We are in the process of getting running boards, but the steps in each door are helpful to get in, especially if you are incubating a human in your abdomen and you’re not great at climbing. The sun visors are ginormous but have a tiny mirror in the middle when you flip them down. Oh well, can’t have it all.
Check out all this storage! The front doors have HUGE compartments in the middle and bottom of the doors. On each sides of the dash there are cupholders and another lower holder that we’ve found useful for big water bottles, 1/2 gallons of chocolate milk (ha-you think I’m only kidding), or rolled up papers, etc. Lots of storage!
We have noticed that we have to be careful opening the passenger door and the back ‘barn doors’ because they will hit each other if you let the back one swing too far open.
There are 2 back doors to open to access the back passenger’s seats. In Transits with our roof height you can get barn doors or a sliding door. The sliding door has mediocre reviews with a lot of problems and people say it’s too heavy for kids to open. So we lucked out finding one with the barn doors. Here’s what it looks like with both doors open. The kids have no trouble opening or closing these, which is awesome!
Here is a view looking back. I opened all the doors (obviously) for enough light. The seat configuration we currently have is 2 (driver/passenger), 3, 2, 3, 1. The very back one we don’t really use, but the jack for changing a tire is under it and J thought it’d be kind of pointless to take out that seat and then if we ever need to haul that 11th person we can. 😉
Ruth’s row is the one directly behind the front driver/passenger. She’s still rearfacing and this is the only row that a rear facing carseat will fit (from my experience). I keep a few books and toys in the car of course, because sanity is important for all of us. There’s a small trash can right behind the drivers seat that makes it easy for the kids or us to toss trash into so it doesn’t just roll around on the floor. I actually haven’t had any trouble with the trash can sliding around so that’s good. I also have a box of kleenex and an atlas because once upon a time J was a truck driver and he says we will ALWAYS have an atlas, not just GPS. The new baby will go in this row as well, I think. However, I’m not sure 2 rear facing car seats can fit and still allow a walkway through. As it is now, we can walk from the front seats all the way to the back, and I’d like to keep it that way because it’s super convenient. If it’s windy or cold (all the time lately) I can get in with the kids, buckle Ruth, and walk up to the front to get in the driver’s seat without getting out of the car again. WINNING.
Ruth has an additional kickmat on her seat so she doesn’t get it all muddy, and then all of the kids have their own back of the seat organizer/kickmat. I got these off amazon and so far work great and weren’t too expensive. In Ruth’s organizer I have diapers, wipes, sunscreen, bugspray, a brush with hairbands, some empty plastic bags for the unknowns and a sun hat. This has almost eliminated our need for a diaper bag! I’m sure when new baby arrives we will need to resume that, but for now it works really well!
Also under this seat I have a small tote with a change of clothes for EACH kid, plus a few pairs of underwear. When I’m nursing I usually keep a extra shirt for myself too because stuff happens…. This is something I started years ago and has proved to be very important because you just never know when someone is going to have an accident, spill, or get sick on themselves or you!
Amelia’s row is next. She likes to sit right by the window so she has a cupholder she says 😉 (Ruth was enjoying playing in her seat this day. )We moved Amelia into a high back booster because a) she can buckle herself, b) one less person we have to buckle in, and c) she’s 4.5 years old and heavy/tall enough. In her organizer she has her sunglasses, gum, a water bottle and some toys (I think). She also keeps a book to read.
G and L share the next row. They each sit by a window on opposite sides of the car (no fighting–yes!). We removed the freestanding seat directly in front of Gabriel so there’s plenty of room to get in and out and he’s got a lot of leg room. They each have sunglasses, water, and a few things to keep them entertained. Lucy has been having less problems getting carsick. I think the 4 rows of vents for heat on the floor and 4 rows of A/C vents on the ceiling are helpful with air circulation for this, as well as the HUGE windows. There are also speakers all the way back that are nice so the kids aren’t constantly asking to turn the volume louder and LOUDER.
And finally, the back of the van! It has double doors so you can open one or both. They swing open as wide as the van and have a latch that automatically catches so the wind can’t whip them around. I like this feature. Loading groceries is a game changer and no more shoving groceries into carseats and any and every nook and cranny.
You can also unlatch the automatic latches with a switch on the door which allows the doors to open ALL the way around to the side of the van. There are magnets that keep the doors in place there. Good for loading/unloading bigger stuff.
In the back we keep a large quilt, an umbrella stroller, case of water, large ice scraper with brush, Ergo baby carrier, rachet straps, jumper cables, etc. We will be adding a few bag chairs and an umbrella for baseball season and a bag full of activities for the younger girls for the practices/games we’ll be spending a lot of time at early this summer. The kids can easily stand up back here to change clothes if needed. Amelia has already tested out that idea.
And that’s the end of the tour! Hope you’ve enjoyed.