Ford Tourneo Custom (12 on) 2.2 TDCi Titanium SWB road test

  • Based on the latest Ford Transit Custom van
  • Flexible, spacious and comfortable eight-seater cabin
  • Car-like on the road; driving position easy to adapt to

Could the Ford Tourneo Custom be the answer to many larger families’ motoring dilemma? Historically the choice was between an MPV which could seat everyone or transport their luggage or a van-based minibus. That chasm between the two no longer exists, as the new Tourneo Custom demonstrates.

Car-like environment

Outside there’s little escaping that the Tourneo Custom looks like the latest Transit van with additional windows and further spruced up with body-coloured bumpers, natty 16-inch alloy wheels and, in our test car’s case, a £480 (excluding VAT) metallic paint job. Step inside though and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Tourneo Custom dashboard will be familiar to Ford car drivers

Looking like one of Ford’s current car range, the dashboard is constructed of robust van-appropriate plastics, albeit to a high standard. Ergonomically, everything is arranged conveniently barring the ventilation controls which require a stretch to the left to adjust.

Otherwise the driving position feels very car-like and won’t alienate many drivers who will be new to the higher seating position and greater width of the vehicle. Enormous split door mirrors and perpendicular bodywork make the Tourneo Custom both easy to position on the road and when parking. Titanium specification includes parking sensors for additional peace of mind.

Further niceties on top-of-the-range models include rear air conditioning with roof vents, roller blinds for the side windows and Ford’s Sync system for Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming. As a £30 (excluding VAT) option, our test Tourneo also came with a three-pin socket allowing all manner of devices to be plugged in for passenger entertainment.

Van-like practicality

Where that tall, flat bodywork really benefits is in terms of outright practicality. Even this short-wheelbase variant, with all eight seats in place, offers 922 litres of boot space, out-doing any car-based MPV. Privacy glass is your only protection from prying eyes though, with no loadspace cover.

All six back seats are Isofix child-restraint compatible, can individually recline, fold forward or be removed entirely, although weighing a hefty 45kg for the single seat and 90kg for a double unit, you’d be advised to eat your spinach before lifting them.

Being such a wide vehicle, sliding rear doors mean there’s no danger of kids knocking them into adjacent parked cars but beware of reversing into a space if you need access to the boot as that enormous tailgate requires a lot of room to open up.

Driving experience

Driving the Tourneo Custom is very akin to driving a car. The gear lever is high-mounted for easy reach but we found the handbrake lever is too low – an electric one would be welcome to make life a little easier.

That aside, it feels entirely conventional, keeping up with traffic well thanks to its 153bhp 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine. With 385Nm of torque available the Ford shouldn’t feel lethargic at lower speeds but you do find yourself frequently swapping to a lower gear to make decent progress.

Economy isn’t sacrificed with Ford claiming a 43.5mpg average, although our test drive concluded 38mpg was more likely, giving a theoretical range between fill-ups of 668 miles. A stop/start system gives a further efficiency advantage although the engine seems clattery when it bursts back into life.

Electronics help keep the Tourneo stable around faster corners but ultimately this isn’t something you buy for the driving experience so don’t expect it to be particularly quick on cross-country routes. It’s much better suited to motorway cruising, where its old-fashioned style of rear suspension is less prone to bouncing it along.

Should you buy one?

Frequently transport people and luggage simultaneously? Then it’d be unwise to overlook the Ford Tourneo Custom. It’s pricy at over £30,000, including VAT, but swapping from a regular car is painless even though there’s no hiding its commercial vehicle origins.

Also consider

Citroen Dispatch Combi HDi 160 L2H1 SX 

Beginning to show its age against the Tourneo Custom, feeling more van-like to drive and less well-equipped but the cabin remains spacious and adaptable.

Mercedes-Benz Vito BlueEFFICIENCY Shuttle 116 CDI Compact 

Remains a favourite with luxury transport operators and surprisingly priced similarly to the Ford too. Three-pointed star badge is a huge draw.

Volkswagen Caravelle SE SWB 2.0 TDI 140ps BlueMotion Technology

Volkswagen still trades on fond memories of its camper van heritage but the Caravelle is a well-executed and practical buy. Most expensive choice here though.