Ford Tourneo Custom MPV review
“The Transit-based Ford Tourneo Custom is unsurprisingly practical and seats up to nine people”
- Plug-in hybrid
- No electric model
- Obviously van-based
While most manufacturers are tripping over themselves to create more and more SUVs, Ford is plugging away with a host of more traditional people-carriers. Short of a fully fledged minibus, the Ford Tourneo Custom is the biggest MPV the brand offers. It holds an edge over the seven-seat Ford S-MAX, Ford Galaxy and Ford Tourneo Connect models, by offering seating for up to nine people.
You probably don’t need us to tell you that the Tourneo Custom is the passenger version of the Ford Transit Custom van. The Transit, in all its iterations, was the best-selling vehicle in 2021, so basing a people-carrier on the popular mid-size version is a good idea.
It’s incredibly practical, and its individual seats make the Tourneo Custom vastly more versatile than its van sibling. The second row of seats can be fixed to face forwards or backwards, with the latter being called ‘Conference seating’ by Ford. All second- and third-row seats can be moved and removed, giving you the option of carrying long items such as kayaks alongside passengers.
In a concession to the popularity of SUVs, Ford offers the Tourneo Custom in a rugged-looking Active spec, with chunky body cladding. But it’s not just a styling pack; you can add a limited-slip differential and all-weather tyres to give extra grip on slippery terrain. It won’t traverse a mountain, but would tackle a muddy track to a mountain bike track. You can even get an internal bike rail for the Tourneo, as well as the usual roof bars and add-ons.
Active is near the top of a wide-ranging line-up. Besides the taxi-focused Shuttle Bus, there are Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X and Sport versions. Zetec brings a touchscreen with DAB radio, FordPass Connect and Bluetooth, plus auto headlights and wipers, a heated front windscreen, cruise control and parking sensors.
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Titanium adds heated folding door mirrors and air-conditioning for the rear area, and Titanium X also gets leather trim, bi-xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control and a rear-view camera. The Sport gets a suitably racy body kit and standard-fit racing stripes.
Well-equipped it may be, but you’ll pay a lot for the Tourneo Custom. Zetec starts at around £45,000, and the plug-in hybrid Titanium model we tested was more than £53,000. Ford will point you towards the whole-life cost of the Tourneo, but that’s still an awful lot of money. A fully electric Citroen e-SpaceTourer costs less than £50,000, and will cost less to run.
Alongside the plug-in hybrid are conventional diesel engines, some with mild-hybrid technology to save fuel.
Rivals to the Tourneo Custom include the Renault Trafic Passenger and the Volkswagen Multivan, also available as a plug-in hybrid, plus the e-SpaceTourer and its Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life and Peugeot e-Traveller stablemates. The Mercedes V-Class is a more luxurious option.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesel engines are still the main choice in the Ford Tourneo Custom, and several versions of Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine are available. Whichever power output you choose, you’re likely to see a return of between 37 and 44mpg, with the mild-hybrid engines being ever-so-slightly better on fuel than the non-hybrid versions.
The plug-in hybrid uses a petrol engine mated to an electric motor and a relatively small 13.6kWh battery. In theory, this can give you up to 33 miles of electric driving, but we tended to get 20-25 miles from the battery. In cold conditions, this dropped to more like 15 miles. Like any plug-in hybrid, your fuel consumption will vary wildly depending on how often you can recharge and the types of journeys you do. On a long motorway run, we saw an average of less than 26mpg, compared to around 42mpg when more time was spent around town.
Engines, drive & performance
Like the Transit it’s based on, the Tourneo Custom is available with a range of power outputs from a 2.0-litre diesel engine. The range kicks off with a 104bhp version, before ascending through 128 and 182bhp options. With the 182bhp engine, the Tourneo Custom is perhaps quicker off the line than you’d expect. Most buyers will be happy enough with the 128bhp engine, while the 104bhp engine is likely to feel underpowered. Not even the Ford Focus gets an engine with so little power, and it would have to work hard pulling the heavy Tourneo and nine occupants.
The other option is the plug-in hybrid, which pairs an electric motor with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. That may sound weedy for a big people-carrier, but the combination provides more torque than any of the diesel engines. All of the electric motor’s power is available instantly, so the PHEV gets up to 30mph very sharply. The transition between motor and engine is mostly smooth, but the powertrain can drone at times.
Ford’s smaller cars are praised for their agility, and even the bulky Tourneo Custom is nimble compared with its rivals. The manual gearshift is just as slick as in any other Ford, while the high driving position gives a great view of the road ahead. Active versions can be ordered with a Quaife limited-slip differential; it may be shared with the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatchback, but here it’s designed to improve grip on slippery surfaces.
Compared to the now-replaced Volkswagen Caravelle, you feel the bumps more in a Tourneo Custom. It can start to feel bouncy and van-like over motorway expansion joints and rough patches of tarmac. Wind noise can occasionally be an issue, too.
Interior & comfort
When the Transit and Tourneo Custom were facelifted in 2018, Ford’s contemporary SYNC 3 touchscreen became available for the first time. That makes the interior feel more modern and more car-like, although the tall dashboard is clearly van-like. You can have three seats in the front, which you can’t in a normal car, or there’s a large and useful storage cubby if you pick a model with two front seats.
Above the utilitarian Shuttle Bus, you can choose from a range of trim levels including Zetec, Titanium and Active. The touchscreen comes as standard, as does front air conditioning, automatic headlights and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Titanium adds air con for the rear rows, an alarm and sunblinds; Titanium X also gets a rear-view camera, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery and adaptive cruise control. Active gets a special body kit and exclusive badging.
You can choose a wide range of colours and accessories to make your Tourneo Custom feel less like a builder’s van - although there are plenty of options from the van world, too, such as speed limiters and a first aid kit.
Practicality & boot space
Vans are designed to carry as much as possible, so it makes sense to pick a car that’s based on a van if you need space for lots of things or people. Like its main rivals, the Tourneo Custom can carry up to nine people.
It’s the flexibility that’s impressive, though. Each of the second row seats can be positioned forwards or backwards, while all seats in the rear area can be folded over or removed completely. Four ISOFIX child seat mounting points are fitted, although remember not to put rear-facing child seats on the second-row seats when they’re facing the third row.
Two body lengths are available, called L1 and L2. The seats are positioned in the same places on each model, but you get more boot space behind the third row if you go for the L2. Both get twin sliding doors, making getting in and out of the rear seats very easy.
Reliability & safety
The Ford Transit wasn’t just the best-selling van in the UK in 2021, it was the best-selling vehicle. Often referred to as the ‘backbone of Britain’ by Ford, the Transit needs to be durable because so many tradespeople and drivers rely on them. Ford’s Transit Centres offer a Transit24 service, with while-you-wait and late-night servicing both available.
It’s less encouraging that Ford finished 25th out of 29 manufacturers in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, although Tourneo Custom drivers will have made up a minority of those.
The Transit Custom scored the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2012, but the rating has expired now as the test gets tougher every year. Still, the Tourneo has a range of airbags and autonomous emergency braking as standard. Lane-keeping assist, auto high beam and trailer hitch assist are among the optional driver aids.