The Magazine for LCV Fleet Operators
Opt for rear-wheel drive in your Transit and you now have the choice of a 10-speed automatic transmission, says Dan Gilkes. Automatic choice

Ford has taken a while to offer its heavier Transit model with an automatic transmission, while some competitors have pushed ahead with auto boxes. There has been a six-speed auto offered on front-wheel drive Transits for some time, but until recently, rear-drive was manual only. Now though, there is the option of a 10-speed automatic on some rear-driven models.

Powertrain

Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine comes in 130, 170 and 185hp versions, with a mild hybrid available on the 130hp model. However, while all of those engines are tested to EU 6.2 Light Vehicle Emissions regulations, this heavier model is tested to the Heavy Duty Emissions format, which is why there are no exact fuel consumption or CO2 figures in the specification panel.

As mentioned, all models can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox, while front-wheel drive vans can also be equipped with the six-speed automatic. This 10-speed auto box is currently only offered with the 170hp Heavy Duty engine.

Load carrying capacity

Although this van is an L2H2 model, that is rather confusingly the smallest full-size Transit van on offer. You can also have an L3 or an L4, plus there is an H3 roof height if desired. That L4H3 van offers 15.1m3 of load volume, while this L2H2 delivers a 9.5m3 load space.

Opt for front-wheel drive and you get an additional 0.5m3 of volume for the same vehicle size, as the load floor sits slightly higher on rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vans to make space for the driveshaft and rear axle.

This 3.5-tonne model offers a payload of just over 1,300kg, which should be more than enough for most users.

In the cab

Transit comes in three main trim levels, of Leader, Trend and Limited. That said, you can also order the heavy Transit in the recently added Trail specification too, as a 4×4 if you need off-road capability.

This Limited trim includes manual air conditioning, a heated windscreen, a DAB radio with Bluetooth, AppLink and an 8” touchscreen display. You also get Bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, a body-coloured front bumper, 16” alloys and Side Park Assist.

On the road

The 10-speed automatic transmission is very smooth and you won’t really know what ratio is in use, though that’s no problem. You can make manual gear changes, with a thumb switch on the side of the lever, while there is a mode switch on the dash that offers Normal, Eco, Slippery and Tow settings.

The box does hang onto gears a bit when you are just cruising along on a light throttle and a couple of times I found myself changing up manually, to reduce engine rpm. This may be due to running unladen however, as you might want a few more revs when fully loaded. It’s a pretty accomplished box otherwise.

Conclusion

There are several heavy van sectors that favour an automatic transmission, none more so than the supermarket home delivery market. Not having an auto has meant that Ford has struggled to compete in this sector, though it has done little to hurt the firm’s overall sales figures.

Having the 10-speed auto will certainly put Ford back on many potential buying lists. That should please drivers as much as fleet managers.

VanUser rating: 4.0