New Ford Transit Custom Van Review

Van may be one of the shortest words in the English language but it’s amazing how many people would rather say “Transit van” when describing a delivery vehicle.

Since its launch in 1965, the Ford Transit’s name has become synonymous, and interchangeable with van, so much has it woven its way into the fabric of daily life.

Now it may become a little more confusing because there will be a family of four Transits with the Transit Custom probably among the most visible on our roads. This is to be the second offspring of the new range when the large Transit arrives later this year and already there is huge demand for this mid-size workhorse.

It’s car-like to drive but has the work capacity of a true professional, which no doubt persuaded the judging panel that no other vehicle could qualify as International Van of the Year for 2013.

It makes a convincing case for itself as soon as you enter the cab, where it’s easy to spend long hours at the wheel because the driving position is infinitely adjustable. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, the same mantra that permeates the whole range of four different van sizes, with two below the Custom and one above.

The Custom also comes in various length and height combinations to suit a variety of needs, with a perfectly shaped load area separated from the passenger space by a full height steel bulkhead.

With its padded steering wheel, convenient gear lever right next to it that flicks smoothly through the six ratios, and easy-to-read instruments, driving the Custom comes as second nature to even novice van drivers.

As a long-time Transit owner myself, I appreciated the qualities of the Transit Custom Trend test van. It was more modest in size than my own Transit, which I always considered good on fuel consumption. But when I zeroed the computer on this latest Transit I was amazed to quickly see 37 mpg on the readout despite some demanding driving on difficult routes. This was no wide and straight road event but contained a mix of major routes, motorways, and twisting, gear swapping country lanes which gave no chance of settling at a constant speed in sixth gear.

Regular drivers, who know how easy it is to get carried away at the wheel of a Transit when running late will appreciate the optional built-in speed limiter that keeps the maximum to 70 mph. Licence points are, after all, a luxury that none of us professional drivers can afford.

There are little things like the reassuring clunk of the rear doors automatically locking when you start the engine that also contribute to an easier life – no worries about traffic light thieves whipping the doors open to see what tools or parcels may be worth running off with.

It is the perfect van for so many UK users thanks to its practical size, perfect layout, and great mix of features. Its continued market dominance is assured, definitely not ready for transit to any rival.