Dating back to 1965, the Ford Transit has just always been there for most readers.

Its variations run to millions of combinations, as do the uses that it’s put to, from one-man-band builders to national fleet operators. That means that there are plenty of used ones to choose from, with the ideal van for everyone out there somewhere.

This one is the fourth full generation of the Transit. With a facelift appearing for the 2020 model year, we have looked at those on the market built up to 2019. You can choose two different wheelbases, three lengths and roof heights, front- or rear-wheel drive combinations, various power-output four-cylinder diesel engines, and a range of chassis cab or van converted bodies. Add specialist applications with four-wheel drive and approved bodybuilders and the choice seems to be infinite.

The bulk, however, fall into the most common 3.5t gross vehicle mass (GVM) class and these are the mainstay of the Transit range in What Van? readers’ ownership. In round figures the wheelbase choice is 3.3m and 3.7m supporting three lengths of panel van, with load volumes ranging from 9.6m3 to more than 15.0m3. GVM figures go from 2.9t through most variants at the 3.5t mark and extend to 4.7t for more specialist applications and those who held a car driving licence before 1997.

Most variants will handle a nominal 2.0t payload.

Loading options are single and side doors, twin rear doors to partial or full height, and in shorter versions a lift-up rear tailgate. Load floor height varies with application and drive configuration, but all are a match for the rest of the class. Wheel-arch intrusion is minimal, and partial lining as standard shows Ford’s heritage and practical thinking in van design.

Full-cab bulkheads aid safety and security too.

Power mainly comes courtesy of Ford’s Duratorq diesels in 2.0- and 2.2-litre guises. The two most common outputs are 130hp in the 2.0-litre and 170hp in the 2.2 version. There are higher power outputs in certain applications but they lack the broad rev range delivery of the 170hp unit, and the entry-level 2.0-litre versions can feel a touch on the weak side.

The six-speed manual transmission is slick and its ratios well spaced, with an automated option suiting urban work patterns, although it can be a little dim-witted at times.

Equipment levels are good across the range, although the Transit’s infotainment system is not quite as good as rivals’ latest efforts. The cab interior trim is tough enough but German competitors still have the edge on quality of feel and finish. Stowage space for oddments is good, the door mirrors are not bettered by anyone, the controls are light, and – particularly in rear-driven versions – the steering feel is better than most family cars.

Engines and drivetrains are strong, brake pad life is decent but watch out for any clonks on front-drive models at pull-away – it means CV (constant velocity) joint trouble. Walk away from any without a solid service history.

Five best options

1) Automatic transmission
2) 2.2-litre engine
3) LWB
4) Medium roof
5) Dealer Editions

Five best avoided

1) Jumbo body
2) Low-bhp 2.0-litre engine
3) SWB
4) Standard roof
5) Aftermarket accessories

Second-hand buys





Price ex.VAT

2.2 TDCi 350 L3H3





2.2 TDCi 350 L3H3





2.0 TDCi 350 L2H3





2.0 TDCi 350 L2H2





2.0 TDCi 350 L2H2