Review: Ford Transit Custom (2013)
Impressively refined and upmarket, strong 2.2 and 2.0 diesel engines, short and long wheelbase versions available, five star Euro NCAP rating.
Legroom for front passengers can be a little tight, cabin storage is limited on early models.
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Ford Transit Custom (2013): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 74% of the official MPG figure
The Ford Transit Custom is one of the UK's best-selling vans and it doesn't take long behind the wheel to understand the universal appeal. All are good to drive, cheap to run and capable of shifting payloads in excess of 1.4 tonnes. There is also a wide choice of bodystyles, with short and long wheelbases offered alongside single, crew and kombi cabs. In short, it's the van for all trades.
The original Transit accounted for almost one in five of all new vans sold and was considered by many to be the level by which all other vans were judged. In 2013 Ford split the Transit line-up, with the standard one tonne model being renamed Transit Custom while the bigger two tonne models remain Transit.
Interior quality is a big step up from anything in its class, with lots of trade-friendly cubby storage points and pockets. You also get large door bins that can hold large water bottles and coat hooks - something that's lacking in many mid size vans.
The Transit Custom is comfortable on the road too, with a forgiving ride that's supple enough to fool you into thinking that you're in a large car, rather than a commercial vehicle. The 2.2 TDCi engine is refined and returns meaningful performance too. This is one van it's a pleasure to spend time in.
In 2017 Ford replaced the trusty old 2.2 TDCi with the 2.0 EcoBlue diesel engine. A six-speed automatic gearbox was also added to the range, for the first time to further improve refinement economy.
The Transit Custom was given a significant update in 2018, with a new cabin and higher levels of semi-autonomous tech. The interior was given firmer and more comfortable seats, while lane assist and adaptive cruise control enabled the van to automatically control its speed on the motorway and warn the driver if swayed out of its lane. The must-have option, however, is the cross traffic alert system which uses sensors to warn the driver of approaching traffic when reversing out of a parking space or driveway.
Standard and long wheelbase models are available, the former of which has an overall length of 4.97 metres and the latter 5.34 metres. The largest versions will provide 8.3 cubic metres of load space. Fit the optional load-through bulkhead hatch and the van will carry pipes, ladders and planks of wood measuring up to 3.4 metres.
The space between the wheel arches is one of the best for a van of this size, allowing for 8x4 foot boards to be loaded flat to the floor. There are double cab versions available and a useful kombi minibus variant which can carry nine people. It's a good alternative to the more expensive Ford Tourneo Custom.
The Transit Custom is excellent value, compared to its German rivals. It's streets ahead of the competition in every aspect and is easily the most car-like of mid size panel van you can buy, both in terms of driving and refinement. Yet it remains as practical and cheap to run as ever making it quite simply the best van you can buy.
Used Buying Guide - Ford Transit Custom
The Ford Transit Connect is an impressive, practical van that’s good to drive and look at. It's also a great used buy and there are no shortage of affordable and well kept examples on the market. We tell you what to look out for when buying second hand.
What does a Ford Transit Custom (2013) cost?
Buy a used Ford Transit Custom from £18,650
Ford Transit Custom (2013): What's It Like Inside?
All Transit Customs are front-wheel drive and there are two wheelbases - a standard wheelbase and a long wheelbase - or L1 and L2. There are also two load heights - H1 and H2. The standard L1 H1 van will suit most needs and a single side sliding door is fitted as standard.
A double crew cab option sacrifices load space for a second row of three seats, which transforms the van into a six-seater work bus. However, there is a price to pay when it comes to practicality, with double cab vans carrying one or two Euro pallets depending on which wheelbase you choose.
The Transit Custom is up against the likes of the Volkswagen Transporter and Renault Trafic but it has an ace up its sleeve as the short wheelbase model is the only van in the class which can transport three Euro pallets with a one-metre high load - something that wasn't possible in the previous SWB Transit. This is down to a clever bulkhead design that also includes a load-through hatch.
This is essentially a slot at the base of the bulkhead which lets you slide longer items (like guttering or ladders) up to three metres long (3.4 metres in the L2 model), under the passenger seat. All Transit Customs come with a single sliding side door, the driver's side is an option, which is impressively wide and high making getting in and out easy.
Other changes include repositioned tie-down hooks and fixing points which are now on the body sides, leaving the floor clear for easier loading. The floor itself has an easy clean liner which feels very durable and hard wearing.
In developing the Transit Custom, Ford engineers spent time with Transit owners in their vehicles and this led to a range of clever features. One of the best is a deployable integrated roof rack which has three roof bars located in recesses in the roof. When it's not being used the bars can be folded down, reducing wind drag, noise and fuel consumption. It also means the vehicle is under two metres in height so it can access most height restricted car parks.
Other smart designs include locking check arms that mean the rear doors can be locked in place at 90 degrees to stop them being slammed shut in windy conditions. The cargo area also gets bright LED lighting which helps when loading or unloading at night or in underground car parks.
In the front the driver is looked after. It feels more like a car than a van, with a high quality interior that echoes Ford's hatchback in both style and feel. The steering wheel, radio controls and even the air vents are all the same while the seats offer good support for long distance comfort. We like the high placed gear lever too, although with three in the front it does mean the centre passenger is in danger of smacking their knee on it or getting a friendly slap from the driver. Legroom is also tight for the outer passenger.
In 2018 Ford redesigned the interior of the van, adding more storage pockets and bins. Sync3 infotainment was also added to the options list, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen that can be operated with pinch and swipe hand gestures. Voice control was also added, allowing the driver to make and receive calls in true handsfree fashion. Adaptive cruise control and side wind stabilisation can also be fitted, along with a system that uses sensors to warn you of approaching traffic when you're reversing out of a parking space or driveway.
What's the Ford Transit Custom (2013) like to drive?
The Transit Custom is a big step forward from the old Transit and that's most noticeable in refinement. It's a much quieter van to travel in thanks to better engines and improved sound proofing. The 2.2 TDCi engine is smooth and there's far less vibration throughout the cabin than before.
The same goes for the handling. It's great in town with a tight turning circle and nice easy steering while the big mirrors mean it's easy to spot passing traffic or wayward cyclists. On the motorway it cruises along in an impressively relaxed manner, barely breaking a sweat at 70mph. But where it really shines is on demanding roads when fully laden. The steering is responsive, the suspension controls body roll well and it doesn't bounce all over the place when you hit bumps or crests in the road.
Ford says it designed the Transit Custom to have the same natural and easy-to-drive character of its car range and that's certainly the case. The chassis is excellent and even unladen the van feels composed on rough roads.
From 2013 - 2017, there was just one engine to choose from - Ford's 2.2 TDCi Euro5 diesel which came in three versions - 100PS, 125PS and 155PS. When unladen there's very little to choose between the three engines in everyday driving. Only if you really push them do you notice the extra power. The 100PS has 310Nm of torque and is fine for light work and ideal for round town. But if you're carrying significant weight or towing a trailer, the higher powered 125PS which has 350Nm of torque or the top of the range 155PS model with 385Nm will suit better.
In 2017 Ford replaced the 2.2 TDCi with the 2.0-litre EcoBlue. The Euro6 diesel engine provides better performance and lower emissions, with 105PS, 130PS or 170PS power ratings. Improved low-end pulling power – with 20 per cent more torque at 1250rpm – delivers more flexible and responsive performance in everyday driving, while engine noise is significantly lower on the motorway.
The 130PS EcoBlue is the sweet spot in the post-2017 model line-up, striking an excellent balance between economy and performance. Only those wanting the high-end Sport Van will need to venture to the 170PS version. Maximum towing weights peak at 2.8 tonnes while gross vehicle weight ranges from 2.6 to 3.4 tonnes.
A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard with a nice positive and smooth shift plus all models get an engine start/stop system to help improve fuel economy. In 2017 the a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission was added to the range, but limited the 130PS and 170PS versions of the Ford EcoBlue engine.
Real MPG average for a Ford Transit Custom (2013)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What do owners think?
Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.
- 5 star
- 4 star 17%
- 3 star 33%
- 2 star 33%
- 1 star 17%