2023 Ford Transit Custom 340S review (video)

Brett Davis

Yes, it is probably the most recognisable white van in the entire world. We thought we’d test out the 2022-2023 Ford Transit Custom to see what all the fuss is about… And because I’m moving house and need a van to assist. But we won’t let that get in the way of a thorough review.

As you can imagine, the latest Transit is available in a multitude of shapes and sizes, offering varying degrees of load-hauling capability. Here we’re testing the 2022 (MY2022.75) short wheelbase version, called the Custom 340S – a longer wheelbase model is available called the 340L. Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that develops 125kW and 390Nm.

The Transit Custom was Australia’s fourth best-selling van in its class during 2022, according to VFACTS figures. It was beaten by the Toyota HiAce, Hyundai Staria Load and LDV G10, in that order. However, Ford is launching its next-generation model in Australia late this year, bringing in a fresh platform with independent suspension, new EcoBlue engines, and, for the first time, a fully electric E-Transit option. It could turn the tables.

Prices for this particular model start from $47,390 for the automatic. Going for the manual saves you $2800. We think in this day and age, paying that much more for an automatic is pretty ridiculous. And it’s not like this has a complex dual-clutch automatic or anything fancy. The price is positioned in the middle of the leading rivals.

2023 Ford Transit Custom 340S – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder
Output: 125kW@3500rpm / 3900Nm@1500-2000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 16×6.5, 215/65
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2003kg
Power-to-weight: 16.0:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 8.0L/100km
Economy during test: 8.4L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 72L/Diesel[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 15.62kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.56 seconds*
0-100km/h: 10.51 seconds*
60-110km/h: 8.31 seconds*
1/4 mile: 17.56 seconds at 127.5km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.563g*
100-0km/h braking: 3.46 seconds at 44.29 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.004g*
Decibel at idle: 51*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 80*
Priced from: $47,390[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2023 Ford Transit Custom 340S – THE PACKAGE

We think it looks good, for a van, and you can even opt for a Sport variant with alloy wheels and racing stripes. The pointed front end gives off the impression of sleek aerodynamics, and Ford’s hexagonal grille theme is there to fit in with the rest of the showroom, so you immediately know this is a Ford. At the back the tall taillights provide a surprisingly futuristic aesthetic, and this example features two barn-style swing-out doors and a single sliding door on the side (more on that below).

You know this is a heavy-duty work vehicle just by looking at the wheels. Steel, and wrapped in industrial-strength tyres. They measure 215/65, which is nice and tall so you don’t have to worry about mounting kerbs or hitting sharp driveway entrances too quickly. The relatively short front overhang also helps, allowing you to manoeuvre the van into hard-to-reach places.

Inside, this is all about practicality and supporting a busy work day. There are endless shelves and storage areas around the place, and plenty of physical buttons and controls that are easy to use while on the go. There’s also an 8.0-inch touch-screen on the dash, which is shared with plenty of regular passenger cars from Ford. It supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, digital radio, voice command, and a rear-view camera.

Above the media screen you’ll see the dash is sculpted to incorporate more pockets and cavities, which are the perfect filing system for receipts and week-loads of Maccas rubbish. The door cards also feature three layers of shelving, with bottle and cup holders available from the dash and doors. Seating comfort is fine, with three semi-individual seats across, and you get that awesome frontal visibility that vans always provide.

Most importantly, the cargo area is huge. This example features a durable hard-wearing plastic floor liner, which really comes in handy when you need to slide in big and heavy objects such as furniture. There are a pair of tie-down points at the front, but some sort of tie railing or additional fixtures would be nice. Two more tie loops are featured in the back corners, the middle, and one on each wheel arch.

You can opt for a big lift-up tailgate if you prefer, for $550. Having the barn-style doors at the back means you can’t hide under the tailgate when it’s raining, but it is easier to use these little side-hinged doors in tighter car parks and so on. They also don’t require much effort and reach to pull closed compared with the single tailgate. You can also opt for dual sliding doors if you need them, for $1000. Either way, you have 5700L of cargo space to play with.

All models in Australia are front-wheel drive and feature a basic torsion-beam rear suspension setup. The payload capacity is 1353kg for this model, with a braked towing rating of 1900kg. Compared with the equivalent Hyundai Staria Load and Toyota HiAce – 1018kg/2500kg and 1075kg/1500kg (1900kg with manual) – the Transit is about average. Cargo volume is average against these two as well; 4935L (Hyundai) and 6200L (Toyota).

2023 Ford Transit Custom 340S – THE DRIVE

Under that short and stubby bonnet, the 2.0-litre diesel is not the most powerful option in this segment but it is a relatively quiet and refined unit. It offers strong low-end torque, with its maximum of 390Nm delivered between just 1500rpm and 2000rpm. Peak power is then reached at 3500rpm. Progress is effortless and smooth, with six gear ratios providing a long-legged gallop up to speed.

It surges up long steep hills with no issue, even with a pretty solid load in the back. In fact, despite offering slightly below average power, performance is on par with the best of them. With no load in the back we clocked 0-100km/h in 10.51 seconds. That’s not a bad figure at all, especially considering it weighs 2003kg (tare). By coincidence, we recently tested the 1621kg Jeep Compass Trailhawk, which featured a 125kW diesel just like this, and it only managed 11.34 seconds. Obviously that’s not a competitor but it does prove the Ford is quite efficient at delivering its power.

With an official average fuel consumption of 8.0/100km and a 72-litre fuel tank, the theoretical average range is 900km. During our test we recorded an average of 8.4L/100km. It’s always great to see real-world figures quite close to the official numbers. Using our consumption rate it means the Transit Custom could potentially offer 857km of real-world driving, from brim to empty, with some load.

Compared with the slightly cheaper Hyundai Staria Load in equivalent base-spec automatic form, its 75L tank and consumption rate of 7.0L/100km provides a theoretic average range of 1071km, while the equivalent Toyota HiAce with its 70L tank and 8.0L/100km official average provides a theoretical range of 875km. In other words, the Ford Transit falls once again right in the middle, or about average for its class in terms of overall economy.

Like all vans, the hugely exposed frontal view and high driving position makes this a breeze to drive. In almost any situation. Parking it not a nervous exercise thanks to the visibility, and the flat handling and minimal body roll provides a surprisingly fun cornering experience. It feels very nimble for what it is. Ride comfort is decent as well, for its class.

2023 Ford Transit Custom 340S – THE VIDEO

2023 Ford Transit Custom 340S – THE VERDICT

We can see why the Ford Transit is one of the best-selling vans in the world. It does so well in so many areas. And you can immediately tell this was all designed around supporting a busy work day. It feels good to drive and offers decent levels of comfort and safety for its class – standard lane-departure warning, AEB and rear cross-traffic alert – while fuel economy and performance are near the top of the field. Cargo and load capacities are also right up there with the best of them. In short, this is a superb all-rounder, which is probably why it is the instant go-to for so many buyers in this class.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Cabin layout and facilities are very easy to live with
– Good driving feel (for a van)
– Big variety of sizes and configurations
– Barn doors at the back are great for tight spots, lightweight as well
– Impressive 1353kg payload for its class
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Missing some high-tech safety gear; no rear AEB or surround-view cameras
– Average or slightly above in most areas, but doesn’t excel or stand out (if that’s a bad thing)[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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