Can a big van ride and handle superbly, offer an admirably crisp and precise gearchange, boast low noise levels and be cost-effective to run? It certainly can, if it happens to be a Ford Transit. In its latest incarnation it achieves all of these goals, and quite a few more. That's why we have given it our Large Panel Van of the Year award again.
With over 450 variants prospective purchasers cannot complain about a lack of choice. Transit is on offer with front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or as a 4x4, and in van guise delivers up to 15.1m³ of carrying space.
Buyers can select from two different roof heights and three different lengths. Gross weights go up to a hefty 4.7 tonnes and some of the larger models in the line-up can haul a braked trailer with a gross weight of up to 3.5 tonnes.
Transit is additionally produced in Double Cab-in-Van (Ford-speak for a crew van) guise, as a minibus with up to 18 seats and as a chassis with either a single or a double cab. Five different lengths of single-cab and four different lengths of double-cab chassis are listed, with the L5 ranking as the longest production Transit chassis ever built. The chassis are ideal platforms for the dropside, tipper, curtainsider, Luton and box bodies Ford can offer.
Ford's big baby looks cost-effective to maintain and repair. Two year/30,000-mile service intervals are available with the time required for scheduled maintenance over 90,000 miles cut from 5.4 to 4.2 hours compared with its predecessor.
Transit is available with a near-bewildering variety of intelligent and useful features including Ford SYNC. It helps ensure the emergency services are summoned if the vehicle is in a collision bad enough to cause an airbag to inflate. Nor should the advantages of Electronic Stability Control with Curve Control be ignored. If a driver hurls Transit into a sharp bend with more enthusiasm than skill then it will slow things down and keep the vehicle stable.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Transit just keeps on going from strength to strength and its not solely a European product these days. It’s now taking the US by storm.
Click here for the full Award winner results.