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New Ford Transit review

Archetypal large van leads the way in many areas

Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

PROS

  • Very easy to drive
  • Increased cargo volume
  • Cheaper to run than before
  • Powerful Euro 6 engines

CONS

  • Looks not to everyone’s taste
  • Least-powerful Euro 5 engines lack punch
  • Poor payload
  • Some strangely placed controls

Summary

This is the sixth-generation Ford Transit van, also known – somewhat confusingly – as the Transit Mk8. Introduced in 2014, it is the best large Transit yet, being more practical, better to drive and, according to Ford, cheaper to run as well.

Ford Transit 2019 facelift

Ford has confirmed that this Transit is about to get a major facelift – a process Ford generally refers to as an MCA or Mid-Cycle Action.

Ford Transit 2019 facelift - front view, blue

The new model, which will go on sale in 2019, features a new front-end design (pictured above), but more significantly it also promises increased payload, an updated cab and lots of new technology.

This includes new 4G connectivity for fleet management purposes, revised engines and even a mild hybrid electric vehicle (mHEV) variant for enhanced efficiency.

>> New Ford Transit 2019 facelift first details, official pictures and spy shots

What is the Ford Transit?

For the first time, this Ford Transit is a large van only, meaning it competes in what's sometime known as the 2.0-tonne class. As such, it now sits at the head of a diverse family of (smaller) Ford van models, all of which now feature Transit in their titles:

Though it’s manufactured abroad, the latest Transit is designed and engineered in the UK. It is now a ‘worldwide vehicle’, which means it is sold in six continents including, for the first time, the USA.

Ford Transit (2014-on) front view driving

The UK remains a major market, however, as it is typically the second-bestselling van here (after the Transit Custom).

>> The UK's bestselling, most-popular vans

Ford Transit bodystyles, variants and trim levels

The Ford Transit is available as regular panel van, Double-Cab-in-Van (DCiV) with a second row of seats, chassis cab (including lightweight new skeletal chassis cab, introduced in July 2018) and minibus variants.

Ford Transit (2014-on) Base model front

In this review we focus on the Ford Transit panel van, which has been available since launch in two equipment trim levels: Base and Trend.

A higher-specification third trim level called the Transit Limited is set to join the range as part of the 2019 facelift.

The panel van comes in three body lengths (L2, L3 and L4), two wheelbases (SWB and LWB) and two roof heights (H2 and H3) - you can find full details of all of these on our dedicated Ford Transit dimensions page.

>> Ford Transit van dimensions

Ford Transit Euro 5 and Euro 6 engines

The Transit's original 2.2-litre turbodiesel engines were replaced by new 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbodiesel engines in 2017, in order to meet Euro 6 emission standards.

The introduction of the 2.0-litre engines coincided with a number of other technology upgrades, including the availability of a six-speed automatic gearbox as an option for the first time.

Ford Transit rivals

The Transit's popularity, quality and keen pricing means that it bridges the gap between older, more budget-orientated large vans and the more modern competitors from premium German manufacturers.

As such, rivals range from the Citroen Relay / Fiat Ducato / Peugeot Boxer and Renault Master / Nissan NV400 / Vauxhall Movano types right through to the latest Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter / MAN TGE.

The Transit holds its own against all of them.

Limited payload

That said, if you're after maximum payload from your large van, you'll need to look elsewhere, as the Transit can't match the best in class in this area. See our dedicated Ford Transit dimensions page for full details.

>> Best large vans for payload


Ford Transit verdict

Combining strong value with ease of use, a great driving experience, lots of technology and an extensive dealer network that offers plenty of direct-order choice, the Ford Transit remains a large van benchmark.

There are cheaper rivals, many of which can carry more, but these are also typically older vans with limited safety equipment and reduced driving comfort.

There are also more premium rivals, which offer lots of technology and sophistication – but at a higher cost and usually without any advantage in payload.

In other words, the Transit occupies an excellent middle ground, providing a high quality and versatile van at a reasonable cost. Hardly a surprise, then, that it's so consistently popular with all kinds of buyers.


Ford Transit driving experience

4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Comfortable and very easy to drive
  • Euro 5 engines perfectly adequate...
  • ...but Euro 6 engines bring big improvements

The Ford Transit is very easy large van to drive. It feels much smaller than its true size on the road and is far from intimidating, even for inexperienced large van drivers.

Ford Transit (2014-on) driving experience

As before, the Transit is available with front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Sales are generally split evenly between front- and rear-drive models, with all-wheel-drive Transits remaining a more specialised choice.

Nevertheless, we have full driving impressions of the Ford Transit all-wheel drive below.

Ford Transit Euro 5 engines

This generation of Ford Transit launched with a range of three 2.2-litre TDCi turbodiesel engines, offering the following power outputs:

  • 100hp / 310Nm
  • 125hp / 350Nm
  • 155hp / 385Nm

At launch we tested the 2.2-litre 125hp and 155hp engines in both front- and rear-wheel-drive spec with a 500kg payload on board.

We felt the 125hp version did begin to run out of breath a little on steep inclines, but the 155hp unit felt extremely punchy at all times, and had no such difficulty.

Ford Transit Euro 6 engines

In summer 2016, a new range of 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbodiesel engines (known within Ford as the Panther engines) joined the Transit range - although these didn't begin to reach UK dealers in significant numbers until the following year.

Power outputs for the Transit 2.0-litre engines are as follows:

  • 105hp / 360Nm
  • 130hp / 385Nm
  • 170hp / 405Nm

Despite their smaller size, all the Euro 6 engines are impressively vigorous, helped by a design that delivers 20% more low-end torque early in the rev range, an advantage you can clearly feel on the road.

We've tested each output over a variety of roads, and even the least powerful 105hp version is a strong performer, and that was with a 600kg test weight in the back.

The new engines are also quieter, and ride comfort remains very good, too.

Ford Transit gearbox options

All Transits of this generation feature a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, which is very friendly to use via a snappy, dashboard-mounted gearlever.

An optional six-speed automatic became available for the first time with the introduction of the Euro 6 engines in 2016.

Ford Transit (2014-on) six-speed automatic

This works smoothly enough, even if it's far from being a cutting-edge design (though new to the Transit it's been in use in other Fords for over 10 years).

A popular choice for drivers regularly forced to deal with traffic jams.

In theory it should also reduce running costs by preventing premature clutch replacement.

Good visibility

The dual-section door mirrors are excellent, and there’s also the option of a reversing camera to help with the view behind.

Ford Transit cabin & interior

3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Car-like interior design but some poor control placement
  • Lots of seating adjustment and good visbility
  • Adequate storage, some high-tech features

Like its smaller Transit Custom sibling, this Transit’s interior is more car-like than ever.

The steering wheel has a more upright, car-like angle than before and now adjusts for both reach and height so it’s easier for drivers of different sizes to find a comfortable driving position.

Ford Transit (2014-on) cab interior

There’s also more shoulder and head room when travelling three-up.

However, some of the controls are slightly daft in their positioning. The heating (and air-conditioning, where fitted) controls, for example, are on the far-side of the gearlever pod, so you'll find you have to stretch to reach them.

Ford Transit in-cab storage space

Usefully deep cup holders and cubby holes are moulded into either end of the dashboard, and there’s a generous storage area underneath the lift-up passenger seat bench. Plus overhead storage in the cabin roof for documents.

The big glovebox has space for A4 documents and there’s a fold-down section in the middle passenger seat with two small cupholders.

Ford Transit (2014-on) glovebox, cubbies, cup holders and heating controls

There’s also a hidden area ahead of the steering wheel which can be specced with USB and aux-in ports, making it a great space for mobile phones to charge.

Car-like design and technology

In addition to the dashboard’s styling cues, many of the Transit's features have been borrowed from Ford’s car range.

For example, Trend models include the voice-activated Sync infotainment system with smartphone connectivity, which can read out text messages and allow you to dictate replies - among other voice control features.

Ford Transit mpg, costs & value

4 out of 5 4.0
  • Reduced servicing costs and long service intervals
  • Fuel economy only average
  • Trend trim level is good value

The Transit is a big van that should prove cheap to run.

Ford Transit service intervals and costs

A big plus point for the 2014-onwards Transit compared with the model it replaced is that scheduled maintenance has been cut from 5.4 to 4.2 hours over 90,000 miles.

Non-scheduled maintenance should be cheaper, too; rear brake disc repair, for example, takes half as long as before.

Ford Transit (2014-on) mpg, costs, value

Service intervals are every two years or 36,000 miles for 2.0-litre Euro 6 models, compared with two years or 30,000 of the older 2.2-litre Euro 5 engines.

Ford recommends an annual 'safety check', regardless.

In practice, the engines are able to request servicing as required, so depending on how and where you drive, you may find the service light coming on sooner than that. Short journeys in particular are likely to trigger an early oil change request.

Ford Transit Euro 5 fuel economy

On the efficiency front, the lowest 2.2-litre Euro 5 Ford Transit running costs belong to the short-lived Econetic model, which claimed average fuel consumption of 44.0mpg (when fitted with the optional 62mph speed limiter).

The Econetic is fitted a version of the 125hp engine with stop-start, and is claimed to be 6% more fuel-efficient than the previous Transit Econetic. It was available across six different van sizes with gross vehicle weights (GVW - or GVM for gross vehicle mass, as Ford often has it) up to 3.5 tonnes.

Helpfully Ford’s ‘Easy Fuel’ system is standard, designed to make it all but impossible to put petrol in your diesel van by mistake.

Ford Transit Euro 6 fuel economy

There is no Econetic equivalent for the more recent 2.0-litre Euro 6 engine range as yet, but claimed fuel economy is high as 42.2mpg in the regular range, these should be more efficient across the board.

Having said that, the 2.0-litre motors do make use of a 21-litre AdBlue tank, which will need refilling every 5,000-6,000 miles, adding to your costs.

Upgrades for the 2.0-litre engines coming as part of the 2019 Ford Transit facelift are promising even greater efficiency (3% in real-world driving, according to Ford) as well as extra performance.

And that's without considering the mHEV mild-hybrid version that will also be on offer. Expect this to save even more fuel, at the cost of some payload capacity.

Ford Transit standard equipment

The Ford Transit comes in two trim levels (as of January 2019): Base and Trend.

Ford Transit Base standard equipment highlights:

  • Unpainted bumpers
  • Large, double-lensed door mirrors
  • Dual passenger seat with under-seat storage
  • Electric front windows
  • Remote central locking
  • Eight-way adjustable driver's seat
  • Reach and rake adjustable steering wheel
  • Easy-clean rubber flooring in cab
  • Gear shift indicator
  • Bluetooth and USB connectivity

Ford Transit Trend standard equipment highlights (in addition to Base):

  • Heated windscreen
  • Automatic lights and wipers
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Electric mirrors with heating and power-folding
  • Front foglights
  • Dual passenger seat with under-seat storage and fold-down table
  • Cruise control
  • Ford Sync infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity

The 2019 Ford Transit facelift will introduce a third trim level called Limited. This will be a higher-specification model, and we'll add the details as soon as they're confirmed.

Ford Transit reliability, common problems & faults

4 out of 5 4.0
  • Generally considered to be a durable, dependable van
  • Massive dealer network to keep you going
  • Some oil service issues with Euro 6 engines

There were a few recalls for the previous-generation model but Ford Transit reliability is still considered to be very much one of the van’s core strengths.

Ford Transit (2014-on) durability testing

This generation Transit has completed nearly seven million miles in testing in Europe and North America ahead of production.

This seems to have done the trick, as it is typically one of the top 10 most reliable vans, according to the FN50 van reliability survey.

Ford Transit warranty and servicing information

All Transits feature a three-year/100,000-mile warranty, while the steel body has a 12-year anti-perforation warranty.

Service intervals for Euro 5 engines are every two years or 30,000 miles.

It's also worth noting that Ford has launched a scheme called Transit24 where service booking requests can be made online.

So extensive is the Ford dealer network that the firm claims 95% of the UK is within 45 minutes of a Transit service centre. Which is good news for minimising downtime.

Also available is a ‘Ford Assistance’ package with ‘load continuation’, where in the event of a breakdown the van’s load can be delivered while the vehicle is being repaired.

Ford Transit Euro 6 service intervals and oil change issues

The 2.0-litre engines introduced in 2016 happily meet the latest Euro 6 emissions regulations, as well as offering greater performance at every power level and fantastic 36,000-mile service intervals.

Unfortunately, they also seem to be suffering with some teething troubles, which it's unclear Ford has successfully resolved. Highlighted problems centre around early oil change service requests, an issue which has so far been put down to software problems, faulty injectors and even the length of the dipstick...

A couple of things to note about this. Firstly, it's the on-board computer that decides when a service is due, and if you drive unsympathetically or mostly do short journeys you can expect the van to request an oil change early. Some of the early requests may be for genuine reasons.

Secondly, as with the Transit Custom (which suffers from similar problems as it uses the same 2.0-litre engines), Ford sells a hell of a lot of these vans, so it's hard to tell whether the number of complaints actually represents an unusually large percentage compared to rivals.

Ford Transit brake booster issue

Ford has issue a field service action (similar to a technical service bulletin or TSB) for some versions of the this Transit, following the detection of a potential issue with the brake booster.

The field service action was issued in late 2018, and should be carried out the next time your van is at the dealer. But if you're concerned - after all, anything to do with the brakes is potentially a safety matter - give your local Ford service centre a call for more info.

Ford Transit safety & security

4 out of 5 4.0
  • Impressive roster of safety kit - though much is optional
  • 2016 model update brought even more high-tech features
  • Some security concerns

A driver’s airbag is standard and front passenger, side and thorax airbags are optional.

All Transits get electronic stability control (ESC), which includes Curve Control - software that individually brakes certain wheels to help prevent the van running wide if it enters a bend too quickly.

In addition there’s Trailer Sway Control, which also brakes individual wheels when necessary to reduce the effect of a trailer that has begun swaying.

A range of optional active Ford Transit safety systems are also available, including:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Lane Keeping Alert (which uses cameras to monitor the van’s position and vibrates the steering wheel to warn the driver if they begin to drift out of lane unintentionally)
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring
  • Static Cornering Lights (which shine in the direction you’re about to turn – standard on Trend models)

The Ford Sync infotainment system also includes an emergency call feature, which can automatically contact the appropriate services if there is no response from the driver in the event of a crash.

Ford Transit 2016 safety tech upgrades

From the summer of 2016, the Transit was also available with pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, road-sign recognition and side-wind stabilisation.

Furthermore, the rear doors now feature hi-vis decals to help prevent traffic running into them when opened to 90 degrees.

Ford Transit security

Possibly a bit of a sore point with owners and drivers, as the Transit doesn't have best reputation for being resilient to break-ins.

In an effort to combat this, Ford updated the central locking programming in 2017.

>> Ford Transit security update

As always, our best advice is to not leave anything in the van that you can't afford to lose. But if that's not practical seriously consider upgrading the locks and investing in other security reinforcing measures.

Ford offers its own range of Trade Vehicle Locks (TVL) security upgrades, covering everything from additional locks to key fob protectors designed to prevent keyless entry and start systems from being exploited by so-called 'relay box' attacks.

Which Ford Transit is best for me?

As the Ford Transit is typically the UK’s second bestselling van – behind its smaller brother, the Ford Transit Custom – it shouldn’t be difficult to track down a suitable example for your needs whether you’re buying new or used.

>> New Ford Transit vans for sale

>> Used Ford Transit vans for sale

You probably already know whether you need an extra row of seating for crew – which makes the decision between the regular panel van and the Double-Cab-in-Van (DCiV) an easy one. Chassis cab models are also available.

Which Ford Transit carries the most?

Similarly, the size of Transit you need is likely to be dictated by what you’ll be carrying; you can get full details of load capacity on our dedicated Ford Transit dimensions page.

That said, if payload is of critical concern, note that the larger the van itself, the less mass it can legally carry at a specific gross vehicle weight (GVW) – so don’t automatically go for the extra-large EL version if your loads are likely to be very heavy.

Especially since maximum payload is not an area where the Transit is particularly competitive. A number of rivals offer greater load volume, too – the Ford maxing out at 15.1 cubic metres (cu m) in panel van form.

Which Ford Transit engine is best?

Both the original 2.2-litre and the later 2.0-litre engines offer a good driving experience – but though the 2.0-litre motors have been experiencing some oil service issues (see the Reliability section), they are also more refined and have greater low-down torque. Which makes them nicer to drive.

The increased torque is especially useful, as it means even the entry-level 105hp 2.0-litre engine has enough muscle – 360Nm – to get even a well-laden Transit moving. The older 100hp 2.2-litre engine is nowhere near as comfortable in these situations.

The more powerful engines (125hp and 155hp in 2.2-litre Transits, 130hp and 170hp in later 2.0-litre Transits) still represent useful upgrades, however, especially if you’re regularly travelling at motorway speeds.

Similarly, the automatic transmission is worth considering if traffic is likely to be a constant companion to your daily travels – it’s not only less wearing to drive, it should also prevent premature clutch replacement caused by clumsy driving.

Which Ford Transit trim level is best?

Most buyers go for the entry-level Base specification in the Transit, which is reasonably well equipped as standard, and represents good value for money.

However, if you are prepared to spend more to get the higher grade Trend, you do get a lot of extra equipment – including front and rear parking sensors, heated windscreen, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and a better infotainment system, all of which are genuinely useful in a large van. The load area is trimmed to half-height, too. So Trend is also strong value.


Ford Transit individual model reviews

Looking for more details about a specific Ford Transit model? We have the following individual reviews (click the name to jump straight to the review):


Ford Transit L3 Luton 2.0-litre TDCI 130 FWD automatic review

Tested May 2017 by CJ Hubbard

Ford Transit FWD Luton review

  • First front-wheel drive Luton based on current Transit
  • FWD increases payload while reducing running costs
  • Tested with 130hp Euro 6 engine and auto gearbox

Well, this Ford Transit Luton L3 ticks a lot of boxes.

For starters, it’s the first time Ford has offered this generation of Transit with a Luton body together with front-wheel drive (FWD) via its One Stop Shop (OSS) bodybuilder service. The one we're driving is literally the first example in the country.

The resulting reduction in kerbweight compared with existing rear-wheel drive (RWD) Lutons delivers up to 224kg of extra payload, plus better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.

It’s also the first time we’ve driven Ford’s Euro 6 EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel engine with anything less than the 170hp maximum. This Transit is powered by the middle-ranking 130hp version.

And what’s more, the engine is hooked up to Ford’s new SelectShift six-speed automatic transmission; we’ve reviewed this already in the mid-size Transit Custom, but this is our first test of it in a full-size Transit.

The auto gearbox is only available on front-wheel drive Transits, so that’s another coup for this new Luton variant. Let's get on with the review.

What is a Luton van?

A Luton van has a load area that extends over the cab, and usually replaces the regular panel van body with a large, square-sided box. Typically Lutons are built on chassis or platform cabs, which are already prepared to accept different rear bodywork.

The square sides and tall roof make box Lutons particularly popular with removal services, as they’re a more practical shape compared with the typically curved and inwards-leaning proportions of most panel vans.

Ford Transit Luton review - rear view

However, the additional bodywork can be heavier than the standard finish of a panel van, eating into payload. And you lose any fuel economy gains achieved by all those hours the manufacturer spent honing the base van’s exterior to improve the aerodynamics.

But you buy one of these for cubic space, not outright fuel efficiency.

So what’s this Ford Transit Luton like?

It’s a very convincing all-rounder. There are larger Luton-body options on the market, and ones that offer a lower rear loading height – the Renault Master LoLoader, for example – but few feel as solid and tight to drive as this Transit.

We’re used to Luton bodies rattling like crazy, but we got none of that from this Ford.

This suggests the conversion is particularly strongly-built. Even so, as we’ve already pointed out, compared with the more conventional RWD Luton Transit that Ford already offers, this FWD version increases payload by up to 224kg.

So while RWD models provide greater traction (because the weight of the payload presses the driven wheels into the ground, improving the tyres' grip), you’ve got to really want that traction to not see the benefit of going front-wheel drive.

Especially with the automatic transmission fitted, which cuts down the wear and tear you’d otherwise get on the clutch.

FWD Transit Luton dimensions and payload

We’re testing the L3 model, which has the following critical dimensions:

  • Load box internal length (not including extension over cab): 3,500mm
  • Load box internal width: 2,030mm
  • Load box internal height: 2,212mm
  • Load volume: 17.2 cubic metres
  • Maximum payload: 1,027kg

Ford also sells a longer L4 Luton on the new front-wheel drive platform that increases the load box length to 4,100mm and the load volume to 19.7 cubic metres.

A non-Luton box FWD van is also available in both lengths, reducing load volume to 15.7 and 18.3 cubic metres, respectively.

The space inside is vast, and square, with no intrusion from the wheelarches as the box body sits above rather than between them. The load area is also completely separated from the cab, which offers a potential boost to safety.

A couple of practical things to consider before you decide to purchase: despite the adoption of front-wheel drive, the load area is still a long way from the ground, given it sits above the wheels; and opting for the Luton – or the regular box – removes the convenience of side-door access, too.

What’s the 130hp Euro 6 Ford EcoBlue engine like?

Impressive. As with its 170hp brother, the 130hp 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine is much smoother and quieter - and delivers its power much more eagerly - than the old 2.2-litre motor it replaces.

Ford Transit Luton review - steering wheel and cab interior

Maximum torque is a heady 385Nm, which helps. You get a real sense that the engine has plenty to give as soon as you start rolling – it’s much keener to get going than the new 140hp Volkswagen 2.0-litre engine in our long-term Crafter, for example.

And although we were only able to drive the Luton unladen, we certainly didn’t find ourselves immediately wishing for the extra performance of the more powerful 170hp/405Nm version; 130hp hauls the big van’s 2,473kg kerbweight along just fine.

In fact, it ably demonstrates the front-wheel drive layout’s inherent traction issues, by merrily spinning the front wheels if you get over ambitious pulling away from traffic lights.

And the rest of the driving experience?

Equally impressive. As usual, Ford has built a van with steering weighted just so, giving you a feeling of confidence and control, and one that neither leans too much round the corners nor crashes too much over bumps and potholes. The ride is comfortable but composed.

The six-speed automatic gearbox also works very well, being fast-shifting and smooth with it – in a manner that certainly suits the engine.

Just occasionally, however, we found ourselves wishing it would relax a little bit. Sometimes when you simply want to lean on the engine’s torque to speed up a smidge the transmission gets over-excited and bangs in a downshift instead.

How’s the cab?

The same as any other Transit. Which is to say a slightly mixed experience.

There are plenty of creature comforts, including the latest Ford Sync3 infotainment system.

Ford Transit Luton review - automatic gearbox

But the seats are flat and hard, and the cab’s ergonomic design is a mess, with the heater controls on the far side of the gearlever pod for example, and limited storage.

Ford Transit Luton running costs

Official fuel economy figures are yet to be confirmed, but Ford reckons the FWDLuton will be more efficient – and therefore cheaper – to run than the rear-wheel drive version.

And although the automatic transmission will eat into this advantage slightly, it should pay for itself in reduced clutch maintenance costs, particularly if you operate mostly in urban areas.

As with all EcoBlue Transits, the Luton has massive 36,000-mile service intervals, while being a Ford One Stop Shop conversion it’s covered by the standard three-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The conversion work is carried out by VFS.

Our example insurance cost comes out at £735.99.*

Visit mustard.co.uk to get your own personalised van insurance quote

Ford Transit Luton verdict

There is plenty to like here. The 130hp engine feels well up to the job, the automatic transmission adds ease of use, and this is a refined van that offers a great driving experience.

As a Luton it impresses with its rattle-free build quality and vast, practical load volume. But consider the payload capacity carefully, as there are regular large panel vans that can legally carry over 50% more.

*Insurance quotes are from mustard.co.uk and are based on a 46-year-old self-employed married male living in Hertfordshire with 9 years NCD and no claims or convictions. Insurance quotes will vary depending on individual circumstances. 


Ford Transit L3H2 2.2-litre TDCI 125 RWD Trend review

Tested June 2015 by Liam Campbell

Ford Transit RWD Trend review on Parkers Vans

  • Latest full-size, rear-drive Ford Transit put to the test
  • Ample power and cavernous practicality of L3H2 body
  • Costs £28,525+VAT in range-topping Trend trim level

Ford Transit: a nameplate that over the past five decades has become synonymous with tradesmen, delivery drivers and all manner of liveried-up major corporation mobile advertisements.

This new, larger Transit, a van once advertised as being the backbone of Britain, is Ford’s attempt to maintain its position as manufacturer of the UK’s most popular range of commercial vehicles.

We put the rear-wheel drive 2.2-litre 125hp model, with the L3H2 body, under a rather large microscope to see if it’s up to the task.

Cavernous cargo bay

L3H2? Such alphanumeric terminology is becoming commonplace in commercial vehicle circles, but in the case of the latest Transit range it means it’s got the middle-length body and the lowest roofline available.

In layman’s terms it’s got an enormous cargo bay at 3,350mm long, so it’s able to carry common cuts of timber and pipe lengths with ease, and at 1,786mm most adults will be able to stand up inside without cricking their necks. All in, a very commodious 11 cubic metre capacity or just under 1.4-tonnes of payload.

Ford Transit RWD Trend review - L3H2 load area

If outright space is your priority, then stick with the front-wheel drive Transit. In an otherwise identical specification, not only is it fractionally larger inside (six footers can stand up straight in it, for instance), it’s also £800+VAT cheaper than this model’s £28,525+VAT asking price.

Rear-wheel drive comes into its own for those who regularly transport heavy cargo, the additional weight over the back axle helping create better traction.

Mechanically strong

Even in medium-length L3 form, the smooth, punchy 2.2-litre diesel engine feels up to the task of hauling the Transit and its wares around. The headline 125hp power figure is less important than the 350Nm slug of torque that’s on tap from a very low 1,450rpm. Even with a taxing payload the Transit will quickly get up to speed from standing starts in crowded urban environs as well as cruising quietly on motorways.

Choose the rear-drive model and Ford suggests your Transit will return 33.6mpg. This again, could be where the drive going to the front wheels could be advantageous financially: official claims of 37.7mpg mean visits to the diesel pumps will be less frequent.

Counting the kit

Sensibly, the Transit’s wide cabin feels comfortable rather than luxurious, despite Trend being the more expensive trim level in the latest line-up. Standard kit includes cruise control, Ford’s Sync entertainment system with Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity, leather steering wheel and gearknob, electrically heated windscreen, automatic lights and wipers and metallic paint.

Ford Transit RWD Trend review - cab interior

Additionally, the test example came with optional alloy wheels (£480 for the sake of ‘van’ity?), reversing camera (a useful £300 selection for a vehicle of this size), air-con (dear at £720 but saves you cooking in the cab during the brevity of summer), LED cargo area lights (a very bright choice at £96) and a conventional three-pin plug socket in the cabin (a no brainer at £72).

Should you buy one?

Even with strong competition, particularly in the form of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter partnership, it looks like Ford’s dominant position as sales leader of the large panel van market will continue with the latest incarnation of the Transit.

Less expensive to buy and cheaper to run and maintain, Ford claims it’s also narrowed the gap when it comes to residual values compared to the German brands, too.

This 2.2-litre TDCi 125hp Trend in rear-wheel drive, 350 L3H2 form combines comfort, space and cargo carrying-ability. It’s a great choice if you need the added benefit of rear-drive traction for heavy cargo, but not quite the best – the higher-roofed ‘H3’ is £800+VAT more expensive but for the increased flexibility, it’s a worthwhile investment.


Ford Transit all-wheel drive review

Tested March 2015 by Liam Campbell

Ford Transit AWD review - front head-on view, driving

  • Comes with AWD Lock
  • Integrated with Traction Control System
  • Prices start from £30,245 plus VAT

For those requiring more than a pickup’s loadspace and need all four wheels to be working at one time, the number of products on the market is fairly slim. Following on from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Iveco Daily, however, the Ford Transit is now available in all-wheel drive (AWD) format.

The all-wheel drive van market has always been a niche sector, but vital for specialist trades such as country parks, extreme landscaping and utility services operating in remote areas. For them, vans like the Ford Transit AWD have both the ability to function in difficult terrain and carry all of the necessary tools.

In the case of this Ford, a high performance electric pump and AWD clutch have been coupled to distribute available engine torque to all four wheels. Unlike competitor systems, this setup is capable of concentrating 100% of the torque distribution to either the front or rear wheels, dependant on the conditions. Plus, for the first time, the AWD system has been integrated with the van's regular traction control system.

Ford Transit AWD review - front view, driving on mountain road

Under normal conditions, power and torque are directed to the rear wheels, but the automatic AWD system will allocate more torque to the front wheels if needed. In extreme conditions, the selectable AWD Lock continually feeds increased torque to the wheel with the most grip.

Ford Transit AWD load area

Loading characteristics of the all-wheel drive Transit are similar to that of the standard Transit, except that the loading height at the floor is slightly higher (26mm) than in front-wheel drive models to accommodate the rear drive systems. This also restricts the maximum height of objects you can load in the back by the same amount; see our full Ford Transit dimensions section for further details.

Ford Transit AWD: driving on road

On the road, the all-wheel drive Transit handles the same as any other variant. The steering is very precise and car-like, with little bodyroll and ample feedback. Although the engineers have made a good job and dampening out the road noise, the roar from the engine and drive shaft during acceleration and high speeds (particularly on the motorway) is uncomfortably loud.

Ford Transit AWD: driving off road

As we turned off the beaten track, we hit an iced-over stone track and, only operating in rear-wheel drive mode, the Transit began to struggle. The all-wheel drive lock is to the right of the steering wheel and, once pressed, only takes a couple of seconds to engage. The system is remarkably quick to identify which of the wheels has the most traction.

Ford Transit AWD review - front view, driving on icy road

The AWD transfer case and front axle are fully integrated into the transmission assembly, so there's no reduction in ground clearance.

Ford Transit AWD: verdict

While we can’t see the Ford Transit AWD scaling Mount Everest anytime soon, we were very impressed by the off-road capabilities of this AWD machine. Only available with the 125hp and 155bhp 2.2-litre engines (at time of writing), prices start from £30,245 plus VAT, which is cheaper than the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 and Iveco Daily 4x4.