So, I was sitting down at my computer the other day and a press release popped up from Ford. It made the case that the Ford Tourneo Custom – a commercial van with a nice interior – can be a viable alternative to an SUV.
This release had apparently started in the US, a country that has a long history of passenger carrying vans and that could be a problem here in New Zealand. The closest thing we have to something like that are Toyota Hiace vans with extra seats in the back, usually used as small buses – not something you’d associate with a lifestyle vehicle.
If the press vehicle had been any other colour than black, with tinted windows it would look just like a commercial van. In these colours it looks more like something the US secret service would be driving.
The Tourneo Custom has power operated doors on either side that open to reveal the real appeal to this vehicle. There’s tons of space inside, with seats that can be positioned in many various positions, including the one pictured, where you get two rows of three facing each other in an executive helicopter type layout. Open the rear doors and you’ll find there’s still masses of space back there. This is something other SUVs cannot even begin to match, as they often sacrifice rear space for extra seats.
There is one downside to this vehicle, and that’s it’s sheer size. At 1986mm wide it’s 106mm wider than a Toyota Hiace, and that shows when it comes time to park the vehicle. The sliding side doors mean that the rear seat passengers can get in and out, but you have to have the build of a chocolate wafer to get in and out of the front seats.
This, of course wouldn’t be a problem in the US, where roads and parking spaces are generally supersized, but in a country where everything is on a smaller scale the Tourneo Custom can be hard to fit.
And since you are sitting almost on top of the front wheels it feels like the turning circle is tighter than it really is. This can have you biting off more than you can chew in tight manoeuvring areas. Three-point turns are a way of life in the Tourneo Custom.
But work within these boundaries and the Tourneo Custom is a great vehicle for transporting people and gear just as you would in an SUV. You can’t go off road in the Tourneo Custom, but come on, who thinks that SUVs do that every day anyway?
There’s enough soundproofing in the rear that you get a quiet space while moving on the road, and the quality of the trim is up to spec with most mid budget SUVs on the market.
The Tourneo Custom is also fun to drive. You get a very high seating position with all the visibility that grants you, and the 125kW/405Nm diesel engine is strong enough to give the Tourneo Custom a performance feel. The vehicle also corners flat and quicker than you would credit such a large vehicle and the ride quality is not nearly as choppy as the average van.
At the end of the day it’s up to the buyer to decide what that want, and if the buyer wants heaps of space and a reasonably comfortable drive the Tourneo Custom is well worth looking at.