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Ford Transit Custom: current model or new 2023 model?

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Launched in 1965, the Transit has been a constant in the world of vans for nearly six decades. Even the name ‘Transit van’ has become shorthand for pretty much any white van from any manufacturer.

The Transit brand has progressively expanded to cover all of Ford’s van models. As the original Ford Transit had grown significantly with each generation, a new model was needed to fill the traditional mid-size role. As seen here, this was introduced in 2012 and is called the Transit Custom. Underneath that are the Transit Connect and even smaller Transit Courier.

The Ford Transit Custom, however, is the real successor to that pioneering original Ford Transit from the 1960s. It’s consistently the best-selling LCV in the UK, and one of the best-selling vehicles of any kind.

This year marks the launch of the next-generation Transit Custom model, which is obviously big news. The all-new model will also be available as an all-electric E-Transit Custom version. So let’s take a look at what the current model has to offer, and whether it’s worth buying one now or waiting for the all-new Transit Custom coming later this year. 

Current model 

The current-generation Ford Transit Custom is available with a wide variety of different configurations. The panel van comes with the choice of two heights and either a standard or long wheelbase. If carrying passengers is a priority, there’s a double cab option or the Kombi, which has three rows of seats. With either of these, you can fold or remove the passenger rows when you need more load space.

The standard van offers 8.3m3 of load space, enough for three Euro pallets. The double cab has 4.3m3 for cargo and the nine-seater comes with 2.5m3 of room. The side doors are also designed to allow a pallet to be loaded through the side. Payload wise, the range varies from 686kg to 1,459kg depending on the specification.

There are four power options for the 2.0-litre diesel, as well as a plug-in hybrid version that gets a 1.0-litre petrol engine with a 14kWh battery. Compared to previous generations, the current Transit Custom offers much more economical options than the ones that came before. Even if the van is fully loaded, fuel efficiency shouldn’t suffer too greatly. 

Behind the wheel, the Transit Custom is incredibly easy to drive with great visibility and responsive steering. The van is, of course, designed to be driven with cargo in the back, so the brakes are strong and the vehicle feels light when it’s unloaded.

There’s plenty of storage space and cupholders in the cab to help keep things organised and tidy. For extra long items, a hatch in the bulkhead is available as an extra-cost option to maximise load length. 

With passengers or cargo in the back, the Transit Custom feels extremely settled. The six-speed manual gearbox on our test model felt very smooth, keeping the diesel engine nicely in its powerband. Inside, the driver’s seat adjust eight ways so any driver should be able to find a comfortable position. 

The eight-inch centre touchscreen is simple to operate. It works best with a smartphone connected, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard. That means a van can be shared among drivers who can each have their own phone, maps and tunes all connected automatically, which should keep them happy.

Pleasingly, all of the climate controls are real buttons rather than being part of the touchscreen. Another nice touch is that the heated seats automatically turn back on when you start the van, if they were on when you last switched it off. 

The beauty of the Transit Custom is its flexibility and broad range to suit any business and budget. The entry-level van starts from £28,145 excluding VAT. Given there’s six different trim options, two head heights and two wheelbases, there’s some really affordable configurations to pick from. 

All-new Transit Custom 

The next generation will keep the same 2.0-litre diesel engine line up with four different power outputs. The plug-in hybrid option gets a larger 2.5-litre petrol engine – similar to the Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid – with a 12kWh battery. There will also be an all-electric model that we’ll look at in more detail below. 

The diesel engines are paired with a six-speed manual gearbox but an eight-speed automatic transmission will be available as well. That’s an upgrade from the current model’s six-speed automatic.

As vans turn into mobile offices, the new model has clever design features to make it more spacious inside. The floor is flat, making it easier to move through the cabin. For vehicles with three front seats, the middle passenger will also enjoy more legroom. 

The steering wheel can tilt to act as a laptop stand when the vehicle is stationary, or rotate through 90 degrees to make a flat surface. A flat disc can cover the steering wheel so it can serve as a table, as shown in the image below. Extra space between the seats is also included in the Mobile Office Pack, as well as dimmable LED lighting. 

There’s been some additional reshuffling of storage space as well. The passenger airbag is located in the roof, which means that the previous model’s overhead storage is replaced by more dashboard storage space for laptops or A4 paperwork.

The new Transit Custom range will be progressively rolled out over the next 12 months, so not all versions will be available from launch. Diesel models will come first, followed by plug-in hybrids, and Active and Sport trims. Finally, the E-Transit Custom electric models will arrive next year.

The six existing trim options (Leader, Trend, Limited, Active, Trail and Sport) will carry over. Prices have been bumped up however. The entry-level van starts at £32,350 + VAT, which is more than £4,000 + VAT over the outgoing model.

The new E-Transit Custom 

As part of Ford’s overall electrification plan, the new Transit Custom will finally be available as a fully electric van. With an anticipated range of up to 236 miles, it’s ideal for most commutes or deliveries around town. Fast charging should take the battery from 15% to 80% in around 40 minutes, and home wallbox charging will take around eight hours. By 2024, Ford’s aim is to electrify the Transit Courier, Tourneo Custom and the Tourneo Courier as well. 

The E-Transit will be only rear-wheel drive and available with two power outputs. Thanks to its electrification, it will have helpful assistance features to make the job easier. The Delivery Assist pack is designed for lots of quick stops throughout the day. 

A system can be set so when the driver exits the vehicle, the hazard lights will switch on, windows will close and the doors will lock. When the driver returns, they can re enter without the key and everything will return to how it was. 

Just like car boots that open with a foot sensor, this feature can be specified to open the side door. Digital keys will also be available so operators can remotely assign keys, just like hotel key cards, so drivers don’t have to collect a physical key. This will help minimise unnecessary journeys for many operators. 

Apart from the E-Transit Custom being all electric, the main change will be the option of an L-shaped bulkhead. This will allow for two second row seats as well as a full length section for carrying longer items. Payload should be around 1,100kg with towing capacity from 1,200kg to 2,000kg. 

Height options and different wheelbases will also be available in the all electric version. ProPower technology will give drivers the ability to charge power tools and other electrical devices directly from the van’s battery. 

Ford UK is yet to issue full pricing and specification details for the E-Transit Custom. We expect to see this later in the year ahead of the van’s UK arrival in early 2024.

Verdict

Any generation of the Transit Custom will be a good choice for payload capacity and load space. If you’re looking to electrify your fleet, both current and new-generation models have plug-in hybrid options. However, obviously only the new model is available with a fully electric version.

If you’re not in any hurry to switch to electric power, the current Transit Custom still has plenty to offer. It’s also going to be cheaper, as the new model gets a significant price hike. If you tend to turn over your vans every few years, you may be better off picking up a current model rather than waiting for the new one. On the other hand, If you tend to hold onto your vans for longer, it’s probably worth waiting to get the newest possible version.

If you’re looking at a used vehicle, you’re obviously limited to the outgoing model. It has been around since 2012, with a major mid-life update back in 2017. Given that the Transit Custom is – by far – the best-selling LCV in the country, it’s also (unsurprisingly) the most popular used van in the country. That means there should be plenty of choice, regardless of your requirments.

Whichever Transit Custom you opt for, there’s a number of different trim options and specifications to choose from. So there’s a good chance you’ll find the right Transit Custom configuration that works for your business. 

Similar vehicles – new

Citroën Dispatch & ë-Dispatch | Fiat Scudo | Maxus eDeliver 7 | Mercedes-Benz Vito & eVito | Nissan Primastar | Peugeot Expert and e-Expert | Renault Trafic | Toyota Proace & Proace Electic | Vauxhall Vivaro & Vivaro Electric | Volkswagen Transporter

Similar vehicles – used

Citroën Dispatch | Fiat Talento | LDV V80 & EV80 | Mercedes-Benz Vito | Nissan NV300 | Peugeot Expert | Renault Trafic | Toyota Proace | Vauxhall Vivaro | Volkswagen Transporter

Trinity Francis
Trinity Francishttps://www.trinitygfrancis.com/
Freelance automotive journalist and motoring writer focusing on all aspects of automotive content, with particular attention to emerging trends, industry innovations, tech and consumer advice.

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