Ford Transit Custom Review 2023

Written by Phill Tromans

heycar ratingBritain’s best van just got better
  • 2023
  • Van
  • Diesel, PHEV, Electric

Quick overview


  • Great to drive
  • Jam-packed with features
  • Practical, quality cab interior


  • Headroom is limited for taller passengers
  • Touchscreen isn’t as easy to use as buttons
  • Pricey compared to some rivals

Overall verdict on the Ford Transit Custom

"The previous generation Ford Transit Custom was the best van you can buy in Britain, and the new one improves on it, with more choice in just about every way."

Ford Transit Custom Review: front angle driving

The new Ford Transit Custom comes with more body styles, more power choices and more trim levels. These are complemented by a better driving experience, extra space and myriad clever features to make working life easier. Talk about a high benchmark. The Transit Custom is a hugely important vehicle, not just for Ford, which sold more of them last year than it did Pumas, but for UK van drivers – it’s been at the top of the van sales charts for years. And for good reason, too, because the Ford Transit Custom has been a fantastic all-rounder that ticks so many boxes for commercial owners and drivers. 

All of which means that this all-new model has to at least match that benchmark, and ideally push the game on further. And thankfully, Ford’s engineers have nailed it. The new Ford Transit Custom has been redesigned from the ground up and it’s now better in just about every way. All the features that existing customers love remain, and there are some fresh new ones for them to start loving, too.

The latest Ford Transit Custom makes better use of space, has more clever features to make your working life easier and has improved the driving experience to the point where we can say it feels car-like without veering into hyperbole. The level of tech has been boosted considerably, with a huge touchscreen system on every model, and there’s a wide range of body styles, trim levels and power options to ensure that you can pick out the combination that’s right for you.

The Ford Transit Custom range includes diesel engines with varying levels of power, a petrol/electric plug-in hybrid option and a fully electric model called the Transit E-Transit Custom. Both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models are available, while the electric model is rear-wheel drive.

Bodystyles include the classic cargo van, a double cab-in-van, kombi and kombi-van and the passenger version, called the Tourneo Custom. Ford is also selling a campervan version, called the Nugget. Brand new for this generation of the Transit Custom is the Camper Donor model, which is designed for custom camper conversions, and the MultiCab, which has an L-shaped bulkhead to allow seating for up to five, but still with a long load length.

Body lengths in the Ford Transit Custom van range are L1 and L2, while the GVM range covers 280, 300 and 320. A high-roof Ford Transit Custom option will be available in the future.

Some of those combinations will take a little while to arrive – so vast are the options that Ford has had to spread the roll out of the Transit Customover three waves, although just about everything should be available by Summer 2024. And that should keep just about every type of customer happy.

Looking for a used van for sale? We've got 100s of Ford Approved Used Vans for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Ford Transit Customs for sale.

If you’re after a mid-sized van, then the Ford Transit Custom should be at the top of your To Look At list. While there are other decent vans on the market, and some cheaper options too, the Transit Custom is so accomplished in so many ways, and offers such flexibility in terms of specification, that it’s very likely to be a top contender for your money.

When it comes to trim levels, even the base model Ford Transit Custom comes with the fancy 13-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as cruise control, keyless start and LED headlights. As you look up the trim levels, the best choice for you depends on what you want, because most of what you need is already included. Trend adds automatic air conditioning, a front parking aid and a reversing camera, while above that you’re mostly looking at aesthetic things like body coloured bumpers and niceties like heated seats. The exception is if you want dual side doors included as standard, in which case you’ll need Limited trim or above.

The Ford Transit Custom has many rivals, including the Volkswagen Transporter and the Renault Trafic, as well as the family of closely related models that forms the Citroen Dispatch, Vauxhall Vivaro, Peugeot Expert, Toyota Proace and Fiat Scudo. You could also look at the Mercedes Vito and the older Fiat Talento.

Many of these also offer electric van versions, including the Citroen e-Dispatch, Vauxhall Vivaro Electric, Peugeot e-Expert, Toyota Proace Electric and Fiat e-Scudo, as well as the Mercedes e-Vito.

Plug-in hybrid vans are far less common. You could look at the LEVC VN5, although it’s more of a range-extended electric vehicle than a traditional PHEV.

Comfort and design: Ford Transit Custom interior

“The latest Ford Transit Custom moves things on considerably, feeling closer to a car in terms of interior quality and features than ever before. The upgraded infotainment system is standard across the range, which is great news, and there’s more cabin space than ever before.”

Ford Transit Custom Review: cabin interior

Ford has done some clever tweaks to the Transit Custom design to make it more spacious than the previous model. The wheels have been moved forward to increase legroom in the cab and allow the dashboard to be moved forward too. The gear shifter on automatic models is a stalk on the steering column while for manual vans the stick is integrated into the dashboard, freeing up space on the (flat) floor. This makes it much easier to shift across the van if you need to hop out of the passenger side.

Material quality is generally excellent and while some of the buttons and controls are in seemingly random places (it’ll take you a few seconds to find the engine start button and the release lever for the electronic handbrake), that’s not a problem once you know where they are. Overall, the Ford Transit Custom feels like a well made, spacious and comfortable place to sit. The only negative note we have is that, thanks to a lower roof to enable better access to car parks, passengers above six-foot might find their heads getting close to the ceiling. That’s not a problem for the driver, thanks to the height adjustable seat.

Visibility is good thanks to twin mirrors on each side, and most models have a reversing camera.

Much of the Ford Transit Custom’s interior is closer to that of a car than ever before, although you can’t escape the swathes of plastic everywhere. It’s of no real concern (and it’s easy to wipe clean), as some clever design breaks up the surface areas to both aesthetic and practical effect. The steering wheel feels like it could be taken straight out of a car, and on our test models was covered in leather for a classy feel, and all the buttons feel solid to the touch.

Impressively, even the entry-level Ford Transit Custom comes with Ford’s latest Sync4 infotainment system and a huge 13-inch touchscreen interface. It looks great, and it comes with a wireless phone charger and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so that your phone can seamlessly connect each time you hop back in. Amazon Alexa is built-in, too. 

There’s the now-usual concern that touchscreens aren’t as easy to use on the go as buttons and dials, which isn’t particular to Ford, but continues to be annoying at times when you’re trying to stab at the screen to adjust the aircon temperature, rather than feel for a button. That said, as touchscreen systems go, this one’s easy to navigate.

All models also get a 5G modem for telematics connectivity, and Ford will throw in access to its free software when you buy a Transit Custom. Smaller business users can use FordPass Pro to locate and manage up to five vehicles, while Ford Telematics Essentials lets fleet managers keep track of key data for larger fleets.

The Ford Pro Upfit Integration System is also controlled through the touchscreen, and is designed as a plug-and-play solution for external systems such as light bars, beacons, working lights and so on. Rather than having to drill the dash for extra buttons and controls, you can simply integrate them into the touchscreen.

Cargo space in the back of the L1H1 Ford Transit Custom we tried is actually down on the previous model, from 6m³ to 5.8m³, but with improved access you should find it more usable than before. The floor is lower for easier access, and the aperture in the side sliding door is now more than a metre wide and has a step built into it. The double doors at the back no longer feature retaining arms, which makes for easier access, as does a wider aperture. Limited trim and higher get dual side doors as standard, rather than just one kerbside door.

Up front, practicality has been very well thought out in the Ford Transit Custom. There are two cupholders on each front corner of the dashboard, and another than folds out of the centre of the dash. In each front door is a large angled slot for a drinks bottle, and three separate pockets for storage. Ford has relocated the passenger airbag into the roof, freeing up space for an opening storage space on top of the dashboard, with a regular-sized glovebox beneath. There’s also loads of space on top of the dash behind the steering wheel for odds and ends. On top of that, the centre of the passenger seat folds down for a flat writing surface, with an elastic strap to stop stuff sliding about.

One impressive and innovative optional feature is the tilting steering wheel on the Ford Transit Custom, included as part of the Mobile Office pack. This allows you to press a button on the base of the wheel and tilt the outer rim forward, either to flat or to around 45 degrees. A plastic tray can then be mounted to form a table, which could be great for laptop or tablet work, or even just eating your lunch. Oh, and yes, the wheel only tilts when you’re not in motion.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Ford Transit Custom like to drive?

"Thanks to new independent rear suspension, the Transit is more car-like to drive than ever, and it’s all the better for it. It’s nimble around town and confident and composed at speed, and the ride is perfectly comfortable for passengers."

Ford Transit Custom Review: side profile driving

With a slightly elongated wheelbase and new independent rear suspension, the new Ford Transit Custom has one of the most impressive driving experiences of any van on the market. While it's not quite like driving a car, it’s really not far off, with the suspension doing a brilliant job on our German test drive of suppressing lumps and bumps in the road surface.

What particularly impressed us was during a passenger ride in the back of the Tourneo Custom, which is the people-mover model – even sitting directly over the rear axle, the ride was supple and smooth.

Our test van had 400kg of weight in the back, and felt brilliantly composed, whether on twisting country roads, at high speeds on the motorway or through town. Ford has reduced the van weight of the Transit Custom by more than 100kg and upped the stiffness of the structure by some 30% and it makes a real difference. The steering is nicely weighted to feel solid at speed but light and easy around town, and the turning circle is suitably tight for deliveries and manoeuvring.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is a proven workhorse. We tried it in 150PS form with a six-speed manual gearbox, and found it to be more than adequate; torquey and responsive at low speeds and able to quickly get us up to speed when going onto the motorway. We also tried the 170PS model with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is similarly effortless in its power delivery and shifts really smoothly.

We’ve yet to try the 227PS petrol plug-in hybrid model, which uses the same 2.5-litre powertrain as the Ford Kuga and promises up to 34 miles of electric-only driving. It’ll arrive in the Spring of 2024, and shortly afterwards the rear-wheel-drive E-Transit should arrive, which has an official range of up to 209 miles and can tow up to 2.3 tonnes.

There are three broad power options in the Ford Transit Custom – diesel, plug-in-hybrid and electric. We think most buyers will fare best with the diesel, and of the four power options available, the 150PS option is the most well rounded, with enough grunt to make good progress on any road, even with a loaded van.

That said, you can’t get the 150PS model with the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is very pleasant to use, or with all-wheel drive. If front-wheel drive or the six-speed manual gearbox aren’t for you, the 136PS or 170PS models are the best options.

For vans used predominantly in the city centre, the Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid model could be a good option, though it’s a jump up in price, and we’ve yet to test it. Using a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and a battery that promises up to 34 miles of electric-only power, it boasts the most performance of any Transit Custom, with 227PS.

It also comes with 2.3kW of power for tools and equipment – a feature also included on the electric E-Transit Custom. This is another powertrain we’ve yet to try, but with a claimed range of up to 209 miles it could be a good option for clean air and low fuel costs. That said, Ford hadn’t announced the pricing for the E-Transit Custom at the time of writing.

The Ford Transit is one of the most refined and quiet vans on the road. We’ve yet to try the PHEV or electric versions, which we suspect will be even less intrusive, but the diesel models are on a par with similar engines fitted in cars – you’ll hear them chug slightly more than a petrol engine, but they’re smooth and relatively quiet. The noise level is further reduced inside the cab by some excellent insulation, with minimal wind or road noise even at motorway speeds.

All Ford Transit Customs come with a range of advanced driver safety systems, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition and Intelligent Speed Assist (which automatically detects the current speed limit). You also get auto high beam headlights and rear parking sensors.

Optional features include adaptive cruise control, cross-traffic alert and Reverse Brake Assist (which is essentially automatic emergency braking when reversing). An exit warning system is also available, which watches for oncoming vehicles and cyclists when opening the cab doors. You can also spec a 360-degree camera.

Other options include the new Delivery Assist package, which automates delivery tasks by automatically applying the handbrake, turning off the engine, closing the windows, activating the hazard lights and locking the van when you pop out to drop something off. All the features can be configured to your specific requirements.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Ford Transit Custom cost to run?

"With improved efficiency from the diesel engines and the options of plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains, the Ford Transit Custom gives you lots of choice to ensure your fuel bills are no higher than they need to be."

Ford Transit Custom Review: rear angle moving

Ford claims that the diesel engines in the latest Transit Custom have improved fuel economy over the outgoing version. If we take an L1H1 280S van as an example body style, the official figures show a combined 40.4mpg for the 110PS engine, 39.8mpg for the 136PS model with the manual gearbox and 37.2mpg for the automatic.

Moving up to the 320S for the more powerful options, you should be able to get up to 33.6mpg for the 136PS engine with an auto box and all-wheel drive, while the FWD 150PS manual option promises 38.7mpg. The 170PS engine with the automatic ‘box claims up to 36.7mpg.

Officially, the plug-in hybrid Transit Custom delivers up to 176.6mpg, but as with all PHEVs, the real-world figure will depend on how you use it. Keep the battery charged and keep the journeys short, using only electric power, and your MPG will soar. But once the battery’s depleted and you’re relying only on the petrol engine, it will dip considerably.

Efficiency figures for the E-Transit Custom have yet to be announced.

Servicing is due every two years/25,000 miles for the diesel and PHEV models, while the interval for the E-Transit Custom is two years with unlimited miles.

The Ford Transit Custom should prove pretty reliable, as Ford has been building these vans for decades and knows how to make them last. We've seen examples with 200,000 miles or more or the clock, so as long as servicing is kept up they should keep on going. 

Ford itself finished in the bottom third of the latest Satisfaction Index. The vast majority of those entries were for passenger cars rather than vans, though. 

Insurance groups for the latest Ford Transit Custom are yet to be confirmed, though the previous generation Ford Transit Custom started in insurance group 5. PHEV and electric versions are expected to be in much higher groups though.

You'll currently pay a flat rate of £320/year (2023/2024) to tax a Ford Transit Custom, with the exception of the E-Transit, which costs nothing in Vehicle Excise Duty.

How much should you be paying for a used Ford Transit Custom?

"The latest Transit Custom has only just come to market, but there are lots of previous-generation models for sale secondhand at a wide range of prices."

Ford Transit Custom Review: front dynamic moving

The current Ford Transit Custom went on sale late in 2023, so there are very few used examples available at the time of writing. There are plenty of previous-generation models, however, which first went on sale in 2012. Such is its popularity that there are thousands to choose from in just about every body style, size, condition and mileage, so prices vary dramatically. 

To give a few examples, a 2022 Transit Custom Leader 2.0 EcoBlue 130PS manual with around 30,000 miles will generally cost between £25,000 and £30,000. That same model from 2020 with around 80,000 miles will be around £20,000. Meanwhile an older 2016 model, with the old 2.2 TDCi 100PS engine and around 70,000 miles could be as low as £11,500.

Those prices are not dissimilar to rival vans like the Vauxhall Vivaro, although there are generally far more Transit Customs to choose from.

There are a wide choice of body styles and lengths in the latest Ford Transit, and a good choice of trims, too.

The base model, known as Leader, is only available with diesel engines. While it’s the entry into the Transit Custom range it comes very well equipped as standard, with features including keyless start, the 13-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the digital driver display in place of traditional analogue dials. You also get LED headlights, kerbside side load doors and heated mirrors, as well as automatic headlights and a quick-clear front window defroster.

Upgrade to the Trend trim and you’ll get partial body coloured bumpers on the outside and automatic air conditioning, with a locking glove box and a temporary spare wheel. Front parking sensors and a rear-view reversing camera are also included.

The Limited trim, if previous Transit Custom sales are anything to go by, is likely to be the biggest seller. It features body coloured bumpers and auto folding mirrors, and ups the comfort inside with adjustable armrests and lumbar support for the driver, heated seats across the front and a tray table that folds down. It rides on 16-inch alloy wheels and has a category 1 Thatcham Alarm included, as well as keyless entry and keyless start.

The Trail trim has a more rugged vibe and sits alongside the Limited model, with different 16-inch alloy wheels and a mechanical limited-slip differential on manual vans.

The Sport model, as the name suggests, has a more racy look, with 17-inch alloy wheels, stripes on the bonnet, LED rear lights and a rear spoiler on the outside. Inside, you’ll get dual zone air conditioning and a more supportive Sport Comfort driver’s seat, which is heated and electrically adjustable

Another high-end trim is due to be added to the Transit Custom range in the relatively near future. Ford hasn’t officially said what it is, but we’d put a small bet on it being a new, motorsport-inspired MS-RT model.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Using an 11kW AC wall box will charge the new Ford E-Transit Custom from 10-100 percent in 7.8 hours. With a 125kW high-power DS charger, it will charge from 15-80 percent in 41 minutes. A DC charger adds 24 miles of range in five minutes.
The choice is yours. As well as a wide range of trim levels, there's also the choice of two roof heights and two wheelbases. You can also choose between a single or double cab Ford Transit Custom.
Yes, we think it's one of the best vans you can buy. There are more affordable options available, but the Ford Transit Custom excels in a number of areas, being both well-equipped, comfortable and with a range of trim and body options to suit most buyer's needs. That's not forgetting the decent choice of engines.

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