Ford Transit van review

Category: Large Van

Like fine cheese and wine, the Ford Transit just keeps getting better with age.

Ford Transit front
  • Ford Transit front
  • Ford Transit rear
  • Ford Transit interior
  • Ford Transit load bay
  • Ford Transit infotainment system
  • Ford Transit front
  • Ford Transit rear
  • Ford Transit interior
  • Ford Transit load bay
  • Ford Transit infotainment system
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The Ford Transit has been an icon in the van market since it was launched in 1965 and has held an unprecedented grip on the title of best-selling van in the UK.

Its name is synonymous with big vans, but with the Transit range now being broken down into subdivisions of Transit, Transit Custom, Transit Connect and Transit Courier, the Transit name is more prevalent than ever. There's also an electric Ford E-Transit available now – we've reviewed that model separately.

As well as revising its engines in 2019 to meet the ever-stricter Euro-6d emissions standards, Ford took the opportunity to update the Transit more comprehensively. Hence, there's a new grille, which is a subtle alteration to the existing design, as well as some crease lines in the bonnet to toughen up the front end appearance.

More recently, updates for 2024 models include the continuation of the  2.0-litre diesel engine with the same outputs as the previous Transit – 103bhp, 129bhp and 168bhp. The Transit will be available as both front- and rear-wheel-drive and get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The popular 10-speed automatic gearbox option will continue, but a new 8-speed automatic will be added for front-wheel-drive vans.

Three basic trim levels – Leader, Trend and Limited – are available, and all have a wide range of options that can be added. Ford has also added a Trail version of the large van to its range, which bolsters its off-road abilities. Trail also adds the bold F-O-R-D grille to the front of the van, which has been popularised by the Ford Ranger Raptor pick-up.

Although it is the UK’s best-selling large van, the Transit faces stiff competition from the van world’s other big household name, the Mercedes Sprinter, as well as the likes of the Fiat DucatoPeugeot Boxer and Volkswagen Crafter.

Read more: How we test vans


The Ford Transit is still one of the most flexible vans on sale, and this latest version has better storage, an improved payload and better safety features than before. In fact, the Transit just keeps improving with age.

  • Economical with lower CO2 emissions than before
  • New connectivity features
  • Higher payloads
  • No covered storage
  • Base trim quite sparse

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Despite its size, the Ford Transit is a great driver's van, thanks to its responsive steering. It is quite heavy, which adds to the feeling that you’re driving a big vehicle, but once you get to know it, the Transit is pretty nimble.

Stiffer underpinnings than in previous generations ensure that the van corners better and helps to limit body lean if you go around bends quickly. It’s a much more engaging van to drive than the Mercedes Sprinter, for sure, although it isn't as smooth.

The Transit's suspension is firm and can result in some bouncing around – particularly when unladen – but add some weight, even a small amount, and it’s a settled and smooth ride. Considering most drivers will spend most of their time carrying a load of some description, we think this won't be a big concern.

Ford Transit image
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Of the four engines on offer, we’d recommend the 103bhp entry-level model for its overall performance. Because of the low-down torque on offer, it has a more than adequate amount of power, even for a large van. If you're going to really maximise the payload of a van with a 3.5-tonne or greater gross vehicle weight, though, one of the higher outputs will be necessary. And if you really want lots of power at your disposal, the new 182bhp variant is the one to choose.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and although it’s a little notchy and requires a firm hand to find each gear, the high overall gearing makes the Transit well suited to motorway driving, with low noise levels.

The Ford Transit Trail option adds another dimension to the big van, enabling to go further off-road than your regular vans. Trial versions provide buyers with the option of a four-wheel-drive system or a more cost-effective standard front-wheel-drive model with a Quaife differential for improved low-grip capabilities.

Four-wheel-drive Transit Trails are on the rear-wheel drive version, so you get increased ground clearance along with electronics that can split 50% of the torque to the front axle. The addition of two driving modes, called Slippery and Mud/Rut allows you to manage the traction control system to deal with loose surfaces. An all-wheel-drive lock function gives you permanent four-wheel-drive with an even 50:50 torque split for even better performance off-road.

In reality, the systems are so effortless that you’d barely notice if you accidentally wandered off-piste in the Transit Trail. The similarities to a Ford Ranger pick-up truck are eerie, and were it not for the greater suspension travel available in a pick-up truck you’d likely be able to go just as far in the van as you would the truck.

Ford Transit rear


The interior layout, fit and finish

The previous Transit was no slouch when it came to internal storage, but this latest version has upped the game even more. There are new compartments in the top of the dashboard that will allow you to store a lot more stuff, but annoyingly, there is no covered storage there any more – and no option for it either. That probably means you’ll make most use of the overhead shelf, but there’s also storage under the passenger seat bench.

The glovebox provides more concealed storage, and there’s also a small compartment on the driver’s door that’s only accessible when you open it up. 

Cupholders for both driver and passenger can be found towards the end of each side of the dashboard, and there are two large pockets beneath these that are suitable for 2.0-litre water bottles.

There’s plenty of leg room for the driver as well as front passengers, including anyone in the centre seat – which isn’t always the case, even in vans of this size.

The driver’s seat adjusts eight different ways, and the steering column is adjustable for both reach and height. That means it can take forever to get into the right position, but once you do, you can be properly comfortable, whatever your size. 

The dashboard layout mimics that of some of the older models in Ford’s car range, and is neat and stylish, for a van, at least.

The only real downside to the interior is a shortage of small trays and cubbyholes for coins and pens. The lower central compartment – probably intended for documents or clipboards – is where you’ll end up stashing the majority of your small bits, but retrieving items from there could be tricky.

Except for a leather-effect steering wheel and gearknob covering, there is very little in terms of looks between the Leader and Trend models on the inside, but it’s worth having the higher-specification trim for the additional features and creature comforts it provides.

Future models will get an updated interior to house new 12.0in infotainments screens running the latest version of Ford’s Sync 4 system. There’s also a new 8.0in digital instrument cluster to show specific driver information, which will tie in with the new Connected Navigation with real-time traffic updates. The 2024 van will be more connected all-round thanks to its Ford Pro 5G modem. Ford Pro wireless updates will also keep the Transit’s software up to date without the need to visit a dealer.

Those opting for the Transit Trail model get a more upmarket interior than the standard van, with full leather seats which Ford hopes will improve your chances of cleaning any mud off the insides when you go off-roading. It also has a higher level of standard equipment, including air-conditioning and electric mirrors and automatic headlights.

Ford Transit interior

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

There are seven different body weights for this latest Transit, starting at 2.9 tonnes gross and going up to five tonnes.

As you can imagine, with so much variation, there is huge potential for the Transit van to carry just about anything you want, and the possibilities have improved further, because payloads have increased thanks to a whole host of little improvements which reduce the Transit's weight by up to 80kg compared with the old model.

Capacity ranges from 950kg to 2410kg, and you can expect a payload of between 1000kg and 1500kg on the core 3.5-tonne models. 

The addition of a new eight-speed automatic gearbox option for 2024 vans allows maximum capacities to rise if you choose it, with front-wheel vans capable of up to 4.25-tonnes gross vehicle weight when towing up to 6000kg. That’s an increase of 700kg and 1750kg respectively.

Ford is also introducing a new heavy-duty Gross Axle Weight Rating pack. This is also only available for front-wheel drive models but increases the front axle weight to 2000kg from 1850kg. The upgrade allows converters more potential for heavier loads as well as improving safety for operators running at high weights, by reducing the load distribution demands move evenly.

Rear load space dimensions range from 2900mm to 4073mm and roof heights from 1786mm to 2125mm. That means the largest Transit van can transport 15.1 cubic metres, which makes it smaller than the Mercedes Sprinter, which carries 17 cubic metres, and the massive Volkswagen Crafter (18.4 cubic metres). 

The single side door’s aperture of 1.3m is the best on the market. The rear doors, meanwhile, open to 180 degrees, but you can specify 270-degree hinges on the largest Transit models. And if you order the Trend model, you get half-height plywood panelling, while full-height protection is an optional extra.

Ford Transit load bay

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Transit is priced broadly in line with its rivals from Mercedes and Volkswagen, which means it's not especially cheap to buy. That said, servicing and maintenance costs on the Transit should be cheaper than for the German competition.

Steering wheel controls, a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and USB and auxiliary ports all feature as standard, and you can add air conditioning, sat-nav, parking sensors and automatic wipers and headlights. Or just order the Trend model, which comes with most of the above as standard. The Transit Trail option might also take your interest as it adds leather and electrical goodies, not to mention the exterior alterations, but it is an expensive add-on – in the region of £4000 over the Trend.

Ford makes a great deal of noise about its safety features in the Transit, with Hill Start Assist, Emergency Brake Warning and Electronic Dynamic Cornering Control all standard. You also get a clever system called Load Adaptive Control, which adjusts the electronic stability control in accordance with the overall weight of your van.

For 2024 even more systems will be added, included advanced systems for both driver safety and load security. Standard will be Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking, lane-keeping assistance and Intelligent Speed Assist. Other assistance packs for drivers will include a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, and adaptive cruise control with lane-centering.

There’s also an Auto Park Assist with a 360-degree camera. However, if you’re a courier, the most interesting new upgrade is the Delivery Assist system. Available only on long-wheelbase panel van variants of the E-Transit and Transit models, it automates repetitive security tasks for delivery drivers by stopping the engine when in Park, activating the hazard warning lights and alarm, and locking any door the driver does not use. Pressing the brake pedal then restarts the engine and deactivates the hazard lights. The downside is you’ll have to shoulder the additional cost of having the automatic transmission.

A driver’s airbag is standard, while passenger and pillar airbags are available as cost options, and if you can afford a little more again, the Premium Visibility Pack, which includes a rear-view camera and Lane Keeping Alert, also represents money well spent.

If you need additional load space options, the interior roof racks are a smart addition. They can support up to 50kg and can be fixed in different positions inside the van, keeping items such as smaller ladders held securely in the vehicle.Last but not least, there’s now a built-in 4G modem in all new Transits.

That means you can connect to the internet, but its main use is to allow a new level of connectivity through the Ford Pass app. With this, you can monitor all sorts of status information about the van and even remotely unlock it.

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About the author

George Barrow is one of the leading van and truck reviewers, and is the UK’s only representative on the prestigious International Van of the Year jury. He has written about vans and commercial vehicles for the past 15 years, and can be found in titles including The Sun and What Van?, alongside What Car?.

Barrow is well regarded in the commercial vehicle industry, securing access to the latest models – and the people who made them – long before other titles.


Ford Transit infotainment system