Rubber Soul

It seems the Ford Transit has been around forever and has earned its place in the popular lexicon as the generic term for all vans of its type.

‘Next-Gen’ is a term that is often inappropriately used but Ford’s application of it to the latest Transit van range is well and truly justified.

Over the past 55 years the Transit has developed from a box on wheels with a wheezy V4 engine in 1965 to the stylish, pleasure-to-drive and practical vehicle it is today.

The 2020 Transit is now loaded with technology in addition to having undergone a style make-over including a contemporary front area with sleek headlamps.

As with the Ford Ranger utilities, Ford now includes, as standard equipment, the Driver Assist Technology package in the Transit. This includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Pedestrian Detection (PD), Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning.

Vans such as the Transit are likely to have applications involving deliveries to addresses in places such as pedestrian malls so the AEB and PD provide practical support to drivers negotiating areas of high pedestrian traffic.

The Dynamic Stability Control system includes functions to address cross winds and trailer sway. The Adaptive Cruise Control and the Pre-Collision Assist are driver confidence boosters and the Lane Departure Warning provides audio and physical alerts if the driver allows the Transit to wander out of its lane.

A benefit of the electric power steering is the ability to vibrate the steering wheel in these circumstances in case the driver ignores the audible warnings.

In a solid sided van such as the Transit, even with good mirrors, blind spots can still be a problem, especially in traffic.

The Transit’s Blind Spot Information System detects any vehicle potentially in either side’s blind spots and alerts the driver by activating a warning indicator in the side mirror.

The Next-Gen Transit has a new dash, much of it similar to the Ford Fiesta passenger cars and includes updated instruments and control and switch panels with an 8.0 inch colour touch screen.

Voice activated Bluetooth connection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included in the package along with a rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors. Satellite navigation is a $600 option.

The front compartment has six airbags and the Transit range receives a five star ANCAP rating.

A trick function is embedded in the Transit which automatically dials 000 and provides the vehicle’s co-ordinates if the airbags are deployed. Automatic headlamps and windscreen wipers are also standard.

The front doors have wide openings and wide steps that facilitate easy access to the new design seating, which has cloth trim and electric heating on the outboard seats.

In-cab storage is plentiful including two large bins located on top of the dash and good-sized bins plus bottle holders in the doors. The passenger seat can be flipped up to expose another ‘away from prying eyes’ compartment for laptops and valuable items such as power tools.

The Transit Custom is able to accommodate a 3.4 metre load length while the larger Transit Van models can handle items up to 4.2 metres.

A full width bulkhead behind the seats serves as a safety barrier and also enhances the efficiency of the air conditioning and heating system due to it only being required to maintain comfort levels in the smaller space of the passenger compartment.

The cargo section has numerous tie down anchor points, full flooring and is fully lined to roof height.

Standard door arrangements are a kerbside slider and barn doors at the rear, with options including a driver’s side slider and lift up tailgate at the rear. The optional high roof configurations take the Transit Custom’s cargo capacity to 8.3 cubic metres and the Transit Van’s interior load volume to 13.0 cubic metres.

USB connections are expected in modern work vehicles and the Transit has two. Where the Transit over-delivers is in the provision of a 230volt 150watt invertor (400watt in some models) which is a great feature for tradies.

The standard driveline is now the 2.0 litre 125kW/390Nm Ford ‘EcoBlue’ engine with a variable geometry turbo which meets the latest Euro 6.2 emissions standards.

In contrast, the Transit Custom Sport model gets a tweaked version with 136kW/405Nm.The engine has a stop-start function to save fuel. The transmission is an easy shifting six-speed manual on the rear wheel drive models with an option for a six-speed torque convertor automatic available in the front wheel drive Transits.

A ten-speed auto is also available in selected models.

The Transit range offers a 12 month/30,000 km service interval and a five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres. The AdBlue tank has a capacity of 21 litres.

Rear wheel drive models have 95 litre fuel tanks, with the front wheel drive automatics being fitted with a smaller 72 litre diesel tank. Brakes are discs all round and the suspension is McPherson struts at the front and leaf springs and shock absorbers at the rear.

In a market strongly populated by European and Asian vans, the Ford Transit, with its incorporation of robust engineering and myriad innovative features, holds its own.

The standard fitment of the very comprehensive safety package is commendable and will be an important consideration in applications with a strong WHS influence.

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