The Ford Transit Custom is the UK's best-selling medium van & is widely regarded as the best all-rounder van on the market. It's practical, reliable, efficient & competitively priced, which is why we asked Vanarama's resident Van Expert Tom Roberts to list out the top 5 trades that will get the most out of this excellent van.
Nearly 22,000 Ford Transit Custom medium vans have been registered in the UK year-to-date - an eye-watering figure when you consider that the next best seller, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, has only had 14,000 registered. When it first launched in 2012, the Ford Transit Custom was a revelation thanks to its sleek design, capabilities & affordability.
Ask a Ford Transit Custom driver what they like most about it & you're bound to get a variation of "it's a lot of van for the money", which it is. Ford's experience in building comfortable car cabins has made the transition to its vans seem effortless. In my opinion, Ford has set the benchmark for 'car-like comfort' in the van sector with the Custom & coupled it with their proven experience of making efficient vans with cost-effective engines.
What Versions Of The Ford Transit Custom Are Available?
Today, the Custom is available as standard with Ford's excellent 2.0-litre diesel EcoBlue engines, but a plug-in hybrid version has just made its debut & is getting positive reviews. The diesel engines are offered in 4 power outputs - 105hp, 130hp, 170hp & 185hp - with a 6-speed automatic gearbox also present as a transmission option next to the standard manual gearbox. Ford's diesel engines are excellent, capable of offering power & cost-effectiveness in one package.
The plug-in hybrid version uses a 1.0-litre petrol engine in partnership with a 13.6kWh battery coupled to a 126hp electric motor - this offers drivers 35 miles on electric-only driving before the petrol engine kicks in & starts to recharge the battery. The vehicle shuffles intelligently back & forth between electric & petrol power to offer a cost-effective driving experience. It's only available in the smallest size (explained below), but until LEVC gets round to launching its VN5 taxi-van conversion, the Custom's plug-in hybrid version is truly in a class of its own.
Across all versions, the van offers up to 8.3 cubic metres of load volume & one of the highest payloads in the medium van category with a top weight of 1,459kg - beaten only by some of the PSA Group medium vans, the Citroen Dispatch & Peugeot Expert which are both able to carry just 10kg more! All versions are available in a choice of 2 lengths (named as L1 & L2, but most tradespeople will know them better as short or long wheelbase - SWB or LWB) & 2 heights (named as H1 & H2) - meaning there's a size & shape for everyone.
The result of these factors is a near-perfect van that a multitude of trades will be able to utilise effectively. So, here are the top 5 trades that I think will get the most out of one.
Bulky materials & heavy tools characterise the loads regularly carried by carpenters. I would always recommend the longer version with the highest roof purely to eliminate any potential that a length of timber won't fit in the back.
The class-leading payload means that the extra weight added by mechanical saws & other tools is something you won't have to worry about. Fit it with a roof rack for even longer lengths of materials & deck out the interior with your own home-built racking & you'll be laughing.
Pipes, tools & bulky boilers won't trouble the custom at all. Again, I'd plump for the longer wheelbase with either height option to make sure whatever you're carrying fits. The internal load-through hatch into the cabin will keep your pipes together, but you might want to add a pipe tube to the top of the vehicle for the same reasons.
The payload again offers you the flexibility to carry bulky items like boilers or water cylinders around without worry. Many plumbers & heating engineers used to opt for the old-shape Vauxhall Vivaro for its loading bay's boxy shape, but you can't go wrong with the Custom these days.
Access to the loading bay through good-sized doors is what a delivery driver needs - alongside good fuel economy. Good thing the Custom offers both then, eh? The side door is nice & wide (just over 1m) meaning you won't need to squeeze in or knock your elbows to get the next delivery item out.
The payload helps here, but more often than not parcels aren't weighty they just take up a lot of room. The Custom's loading bay has you sorted here with maximum load volumes of over 8 cubic metres. You'll be hard pushed to find a normal delivery item that won't fit alongside countless others.
Bricks, mortar & a cement mixer - it will all fit in the back of a Custom. The top payload of more than 1400kg coupled with the width between the wheel arches of more than 1.3m means you'll be able to fit at least 2 Euro pallets of bricks & the mixer in there without breaking a sweat.
No matter the job you're turning your hand to, the standard panel version of the Custom will carry what you need. But if it's people you need to carry, then opt for the crew cab variant that adds a second row of seats. You'll still have room for a pallet of materials in the back riding shoulder-to-shoulder with your team.
Fitting an integrated water tank is key to success here & thanks to the Custom's top payload you'll be able to have a big one. Fit a roof rack for ladders & internal racking for your brushes & cloths to maximise your use of the space available.
I've seen a fair few window cleaners mounting hose pipe reels on the ply lining in their Customs - it's a great way of saving space & keeping the inside tidy. Just make sure you have the tank properly fitted by a professional - the last thing you want is the tank leaving its mountings & sliding back into the van's bulkhead.
There's not much more to say except that I rate the Ford Transit Custom very highly. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that right now I don't think there's any other van that can match its all-round capabilities & price. I firmly believe that most people start their search for a new medium van by looking at the Ford Transit Custom & for most that's where their search ends - the sales figures alone back me up.