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Ford Transit Custom 2020 review: Sport 320L LWB

Can the Ford Transit Custom cut it as a family hauler?

The passenger van has long been a left-of-field contender for large families happy to overlook boxy proportions in favour of space and no-frills practicality.

And now Ford, a long time player in the commercial van space, is throwing its Stetson into the ring. 

Enter the Transit Custom Sport 320 LWB 2020, Ford’s new entry into the passenger van market. At almost 5.4m in length, this hauler is a big unit capable of carrying anything you care to throw into its enormous cargo bay. More on that later.

My three kids and I had the Transit Custom Sport for the week to see how it handled playing family taxi around the suburbs for the week.  

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✅ What does it look like?

As a big fan of vans, I think the Transit, in this Custom Sport guise and resplendent in Orange Glow paint, is a stand out, and dispels any notion of being a boring, boxy van.

Starting up front, there's the LED daytime running lights that frame the Bi-Xenon headlights located at either end of a wedge-shaped nose featuring a gloss black grille and twin racing stripes. 

You will stand out in a crowd bouncing around the suburbs in this machine. You will stand out in a crowd bouncing around the suburbs in this machine.

The side profile features a narrow black decal running down its length, wheel arch flares and side skirts, body-coloured mirrors and a set of smart-looking 17-inch alloy wheels.

Rest assured you will stand out in a crowd bouncing around the suburbs in this machine.

The Sport scores a set of unique 17-inch alloy wheels. The Sport scores a set of unique 17-inch alloy wheels.

✅ How does it drive?

With a 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine producing 136kW and 405Nm, matched to six-speed automatic transmission, the Transit is no slouch.

In fact, there's even some justification for those black racing stripes, with acceleration that propels with more punch than expected and a driving experience that proved plenty engaging.

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine produces 136kW/405Nm. The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine produces 136kW/405Nm.

With four of us on board, as well as gear for the weekend, it was lively under foot from a standing start and happily cruised along at higher speeds with ease.

Around the suburbs it was surprisingly responsive and composed, with its size posing little issue even with no real weight of over the rear axle.

✅ How spacious is it?

The Transit in long wheelbase guise is the equivalent of a warehouse on wheels. Split into two sections, there’s a cabin with space for five passengers and a large cargo area separated by a solid plastic wall.

Rear passengers are spoiled with heaps of leg and head room. Rear passengers are spoiled with heaps of leg and head room.

Passengers have heaps of leg and head space, with my kids given plenty of room to stretch out.  

The cargo bay in the rear is accessed by twin barn doors which open 180 degrees, and, despite their size, are relatively easy to open.

  • There's enough space to fit a 1165mm-square standard Aussie pallet. There's enough space to fit a 1165mm-square standard Aussie pallet.
  • The Transit offers an extraordinarily amount of space. The Transit offers an extraordinarily amount of space.
  • The Transit is an ideal family holiday hauler. The Transit is an ideal family holiday hauler.

Inside, you are greeted by a space that includes four tie-down points and space enough to fit a 1165mm-square standard Aussie pallet, or about four kids' bikes plus two weeks’ worth of luggage and supplies. It's an extraordinarily generous space that makes this Transit an ideal family holiday hauler. 

If the cargo area somehow isn't big enough to cater to your needs, there’s three retractable roof racks for longer items such as surfboards.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

The Transit was pretty easy to live with as daily driver, though its size proved the main drawback. With a height of 2023mm with the roof racks retracted, and a length of 5340mm, this van is no small fry.

Everyday usability was tested at the local underground car park (roof racks retracted), where I had to unscrew the aerial from its roof mounting to narrowly squeeze in. Extending the roof racks increases the height to 2149mm.

With a height of 2023mm with the roof racks retracted, and a length of 5340mm, this van is no small fry. With a height of 2023mm with the roof racks retracted, and a length of 5340mm, this van is no small fry.

Parallel parking was a pretty simple exercise, thanks to the big door mirrors and their wide-angle lens that allows for excellent views down the side, as well as a rear-view camera and parking sensors (front and rear) to assist with the blind spots.

The steering is well weighted and provided further welcome assistance.

The cabin offers moderate storage levels, with two large bottle holders and two cupholders at either end of the dash, in addition to large storage pockets in the front doors. There’s also three open storage bins set into the top of the dash, and a large glovebox.

Inside, there are three open storage bins set into the top of the dash, and a large glovebox. Inside, there are three open storage bins set into the top of the dash, and a large glovebox.

It’s somewhat sparse in the backseat, with only a bottle holder in each of the sliding doors the only creature comfort on offer. Rear doors come with flip-out rather than wind down windows, not that the kids minded. They did make mention of how awkwardly upright the back seat seemed to be positioned, though.

✅ How safe is it?

The Transit has a five-star ANCAP rating (tested 2012), and comes with a decent amount of passive and active safety kit - if you’re sitting in the front seats.

Standard inclusions of note are AEB with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assist with driver alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, side-wind stabilisation, trailer sway control and the six airbags. Disappointingly, the six airbags only offer protection for front seat passengers.

There are two ISOFIX points available for parents using a car seat.

✅ What’s the tech like?

The Transit Custom Sport features Ford's 8.0-inch full-colour Sync3 multimedia system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) in a floating-tablet-style central display.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen comes with Ford's Sync3, plus with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8.0-inch touchscreen comes with Ford's Sync3, plus with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Sync3 system is a quality unit with a crystal-clear display that is simple to navigate and that allows for easy digestion of information while driving.

✅ How much does it cost to own?

Our Transit Custom Sport 320 LWB is priced at $53,690, with the Orange Glow paint job adding an extra $650.

In addition to the Bi-Xenon HID headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels already mentioned, the Custom Sport also comes with a body styling kit with unique front and rear bumpers, wheel arch flares and side skirts, racing-inspired matt black stripes and side decals, plus body-coloured mirrors and a gloss-black grille. Those alloy wheels are shod with 215/65 R17 Michelin Pilot tyres and there’s a full-size steel spare included.

Interior features include chrome air vent surrounds with contrasting piano black fascia highlights, leather-appointed seats and steering wheel, plus a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat. The rear load area features new LED lighting for greater visibility.


The Wrap

I’m a big fan of this van. It’s a great looking unit, a pleasure to drive and can fit a palette in the rear. And while the van’s size has its drawbacks around the suburbs and local car parks, the abundance of useful space is a big positive. What's not to like?

The answer to that, I'm afraid, is the rear passenger space and the lack of backseat safety kit.

This van has clearly been built with commercial, rather than family-hauling, purposes in mind, and as such, the second row feels like an afterthought. Something to weigh up if you're considering this as your next family taxi. 

Likes

Great van design
Ride and handling
Acres of space

Dislikes

Rear-seat comfort and practicality
Lack of second row safety
Racing stripes a bit much

Scores

Dan:

3.6

The Kids:

3.8

$53,490

Based on new car retail price

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