Ford Transit Custom Review
It is quite something when a specific model name is used to describe a whole vehicle sector but this is the privileged position for Ford’s Transit. It wasn’t the first to market when it arrived in 1965 but its practicality and popularity have kept the Transit name at the fore.
The nose of the Transit is certainly distinctive. Like Ford’s car models, LED day running lights now completely surround the more slender headlight units. And befitting any mid-life update is the obligatory redesign of the front grille and bumper, keeping it smart and very close in shape to that on the front of its cars.
Inside, the changes really are significant over the previous model, with a whole new facia. It is more vertical in design and visually far less cluttered. Ahead of the driver are extremely clear dials; the rest of the dash is simplified with notably fewer physical buttons plus the inclusion of Ford’s standard SYNC 3 voice-controlled infotainment system - which means a neat touchscreen and phone mirroring with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Usability is helped with multiple storage areas - including numerous cup holders of various sizes, a load-through section in the bulkhead (which doubles up as an out-of-sight cubby space) and a fold-down table in the back of the middle front seat.
Transit Custom vans use the EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel, producing 105, 130 or 170 PS (replacing the earlier 2.2-litre unit) with improved torque and fuel efficiency.
For those stacking up the miles, the ECOnetic 105 PS engine (available in the short wheelbase variant) makes sense. It is tuned for economy with auto stop-start, low rolling resistance tyres, an Acceleration Control feature, and a fixed 62mph speed limiter. There is also a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) model which uses the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine as a range extender.
Body-wise, the Transit is still at the front when it comes to good design. With two wheelbases, two heights, single cab, double cab and fully seated Kombi versions on offer, there is a solution for most needs.
The standard load area flooring appears hard-wearing and is low friction to allow goods to be slid in and out easily. The near-side door (a second side door is optional) offers decent access and there are six floor-mounted load lashing points (although we’d have appreciated a couple at mid-height too). Rear doors open 180 degrees.
While known as the ‘one-tonne’ van, its maximum payload is in fact up to 1,530kg (depending on body variant). Load capacity ranges from 6.0 cubic metres in the low roof short wheelbase model up to 8.3 cubic metres with the long wheelbase plus high roof.
Kit & features
Features you’ll enjoy as standard include Ford’s excellent and fast de-mist windscreen, side wind stabilisation, traction control, hill start assist, emergency braking assist (which increases braking pressure in emergency situation). Pre collision assist - which uses radar and active braking - is an option only.
On the road
The Transit Custom is refined and easy to drive. Road noise isn’t excessive and there is no evident boom sound from the large panels. We generally drove our test van empty and found it a little firm but it did ride better when loaded. Similarly, the gear ratios are well-suited to load-lugging, being fairly close in ratio with a low first. Even empty, it remained stable and comfortable at motorway speeds.
Of all the options we’d pick, our van didn’t have a reversing camera but the front and rear parking sensors (fitted to all but the base model) plus good mirrors meant accurate manoeuvring is still a doddle in the Transit.
So where does the Transit sit amongst its peers? There is some stiff and worthy competition and while there will be some personal preferences when it comes to design or brand loyalties, we can comfortably say the current Transit is still right up there on the front row.
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter