What Car? says...
The Ford Tourneo Custom is the family car to consider if you're properly sociable. You don’t just take the family on an outing, you take the neighbours too. On both sides.
So what exactly does the Tourneo Custom offer? Well, in short it’s a Ford Transit Custom van, but with more windows, a carpet and lots of seats. Up to nine, in fact.
There are two lengths of Tourneo Custom available, and you get eight seats as standard, with the available as an optional extra. And there’s no denying that it looks exactly like what it is – a van with windows. But Ford is known for producing vehicles that drive well, and as we’ll see, the Tourneo Custom does little to dent that reputation.
There’s a range of grunty 2.0-litre diesel engines for you to choose from, with power from 104bhp to 182bhp on offer. So far, so conventional, although some of them incorporate mild-hybrid technology.
The pitch from left field is that you can also get a petrol plug-in hybrid (PHEV), which has a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine plus an electric motor. On paper, it should allow you to travel more than 300 miles on a full tank and full charge, and when you’re running on electricity alone, you’ll be emitting nothing from the tailpipe.
Of course, sociable types have plenty of rival MPVs to look at too, including the Mercedes V-Class, the VW Caravelle plus four rivals that are very much variations on a theme – the Citroën SpaceTourer, the Peugeot Traveller, the Toyota Proace Verso and the Vauxhall Vivaro Life.
If you’re the adventurous type as well as the sociable sort, you might want to take everyone into the back of beyond for the weekend, in which case you might want to have a look at the campervan variant – see our Ford Transit Tourneo Custom Nugget review for that. The V-Class and Caravelle are available in camping versions too.
So, how does the Ford Tourneo Custom stack up as the mode of transport for your entire social circle? This review will tell you all you need to know about how well it drives, how flexible that interior is, and how much it’ll cost you to run.
Remember, if you're looking to buy a new vehicle of almost any make and model, it always pays to check for the best prices on the What Car? New Car Deals pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The 2.0-litre diesel engine available for the Ford Tourneo Custom is available in three power outputs: 104bhp, 128bhp and 182bhp. The 182bhp version transforms it into something of a rocketship – in van terms, at least. Even when loaded up with people and luggage, it feels genuinely punchy around town and on a motorway.
The 128bhp version, though, suffers from laboured acceleration above 50mph and, because you need to keep your foot down for longer when getting up to speed, you’re more aware of the grumbly diesel engine. With that in mind, we’d avoid the entry-level 104bhp unit unless you’re sticking to urban environments.
We've yet to sample the petrol plug-in hybrid (PHEV), but we suspect this will be the Tourneo Custom to go for if the majority of your journeys are limited to the city.
If you select the 128bhp or 182bhp engine, you have the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox. Its shifts are not lightning quick, but they are smooth enough to avoid any jerky or uncomfortable changes and, at low speeds, you won’t have any complaints (the eight-speed auto in the Citroën SpaceTourer is even smoother). As standard, all engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox – we'll let you know what that's like once we've tried it.
Overall, the Tourneo Custom handles quite well for a van. The steering has decent weight and is nimble enough, but does feel quite slow so a stretch of twisting country road will give your arms a good work-out. There’s a fair bit of body roll, but no more than in rival MPVs. Let’s be honest, though – you won’t be hot-footing this around country B-roads. Around town and on the motorway, the handling is stable and predictable. It also has a usefully tight turning circle.
The ride is as compliant as you could hope for in this class. Over a silken stretch of road, it will carry you along nicely, but it can get quite crashy and bouncy over broken surfaces. It absorbs big road imperfections well, although there’s quite a bit of suspension noise when it does so. In that respect, it's better than the Mercedes V-Class and VW Caravelle.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Slide on to (or jump up to) the driver’s seat and you’ll instantly feel like one of the tallest drivers on the road. The high driving position gives you a brilliant view out of the front and some handy features make visibility a real strong point for the Ford Tourneo Custom.
It has extra mirrors fitted to the bottom of the door mirrors to eliminate blind-spots, and front and rear parking sensors are standard to help you avoid nasty scrapes when you're squeezing this huge car into parking spaces. A rear-view camera comes as standard on Titanium X trim.
The driver’s seat is usually eight-way manually adjustable but you get 10-way electrical adjustment in Sport and Titanium X trims, and it's available as an option with Titanium spec.
Entry-level Zetec models get a 4.2in TFT display with an AM/FM radio so it’s worth stepping up to Titanium trim, which gets an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system using Ford’s latest Sync 3 software. It’s a crisp and clear display that’s easy to use and one of the better systems among van-based MPVs. Just don’t expect it to look like the last word in sophistication.
In terms of build quality, there’s a pleasing amount of soft-touch plastic on the top of the doors and dashboard. The switches and controls work as well as they do in a Ford passenger car, although you don’t have to stray too far to find hard plastics that give away the Tourneo Custom’s van origins. Still, that's par for the course in the class.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
One thing the Ford Tourneo Custom is not lacking is space. No matter where you're sitting, you'll have lots of it. The car has an eight-seat layout as standard in the following formation: two up front, three in the middle row facing the back and three in the third row facing forwards. You can, for a reasonable cost, get an extra seat up front (making it three in the first row) to have nine seats in total, although top-spec Sport trim doesn’t have a nine-seat option.
Other seating layouts are possible too. You can have four rows of two seats (available as an option in Zetec and Titanium) or three rows of two seats (available only with Zetec). All rear seats are foldable and detachable as standard.
The driver and front passenger have acres of head, shoulder and leg room so they can stretch out and get comfortable. In eight-seat configuration, the Tourneo Custom feels as airy and spacious as you’d wish a van-based MPV to be. There’s also a useful selection of cavernous cubbyholes that will easily swallow keys, mobile phones, big bottles of water and other travelling accessories.
As for the rear passengers, even tall adults will be comfortable in every seat, and even three in a row won’t feel cramped. Leg room is especially impressive in the back and, thanks to a high roof, you get masses of head room.
Another handy feature is that it's fitted with sliding rear doors. They make access to the back seats easy, even in cramped parking spaces, and the huge opening left by the opened doors helps load-lugging if you want to strip out the seats to turn the Tourneo Custom into a full van.
Even with all the seats in place, the boot is enormous, and the high roof means it offers 1200 litres (or 1900 litres in the long-wheelbase version). You can lower or remove the rear seats to make the car truly cavernous inside. For reference, the most compact Mercedes V-Class can swallow 610 litres of luggage, with the long-wheelbase version taking up to 1030 litres.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Ford Tourneo Custom costs less to buy than the Mercedes V-Class and VW Caravelle but you can pick up a Citroën SpaceTourer or Peugeot Traveller for less. It’s also worth noting that the Tourneo Custom’s diesel engines aren’t quite as economical as their equivalents in the Traveller and SpaceTourer, so it will cost more to fuel.
So why not just buy the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) then? Well, it costs significantly more than an equivalent so you would need to do a serious number of miles to offset the initial cost. The PHEV is predicted to depreciate at a far quicker rate than a regular Tourneo, which is disappointing – the standard diesel has better predicted residuals than the Traveller and Spacetourer, but isn’t quite as depreciation proof as the V-Class and Caravelle.
On a positive note, it is very well equipped. It comes with plenty of standard kit, including air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and a leather steering wheel. That said, we’d be tempted to upgrade to Titanium for a full infotainment system and the option of the range-topping engine.
Crash testing experts Euro NCAP have yet to test the Tourneo Custom for safety, but you do at least get automatic emergency braking (AEB) and hill-start assist as standard, with features such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist and lane-keep assist on the options list.
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They are the same vehicle in essence, but where the Ford Transit Custom has a cavernous loading area designed to make it practical as a working vehicle, the Tourneo Custom has up to nine seats, which means it’s aimed at large families or as a taxi for airport runs.
Yes. If a vehicle weighs no more than 3500kg you can drive it on a car licence as long as you're not being paid to do so.
Yes. The 2.0-litre diesel version has a maximum towing limit of 2050kg and a towball limit of 112kg, which means it will be perfectly capable of towing a large caravan. The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has lower weight limits, though.
It has front-wheel drive, just like the Ford Transit Custom it's based on.