Ford Transit vs Volkswagen Transporter

Written by Steve Cook

Published on

The Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter — two titans of the medium van segment — have been powering UK commerce and small businesses for decades.

In this detailed comparison, we'll examine how these highly capable work vans stack up across key areas like driving experience, interior comfort, practicality, costs and technology.

Start your engines, let’s go.

Ford Transit vs Volkswagen Transporter

Quick comparison

The Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter are both exceptional medium vans at the top of their class. But there are a few key differences.

With its updated cabin design and driving system, the Ford Transit offers a car-like experience behind the wheel, and eco-conscious drivers will be delighted with the fully electric E-Transit option.

On the other hand, the Volkswagen Transporter boasts premium build quality, inside and out, plus some advanced tech that leaves many competitors in the dust. The Transporter also holds its value well, so over the long term it could be a wise investment.

Ultimately, both are highly capable vans and your choice depends on your specific priorities and driving needs. Let’s take a closer look to find out more about each van.


The Ford Transit generally offers cheaper insurance than the Volkswagen Transporter, thanks to its lower purchase price and repair costs. However, the Transporter's excellent reliability and advanced safety features can help narrow the gap.

When comparing business van insurance costs between the Transit and Transporter, it's important to consider their van insurance group ratings. The Transit typically falls into low to medium groups, with only the most powerful models reaching the high numbers. The Transporter, however, tends to start in a relatively high insurance group due to its expensive purchase price and the cost of Volkswagen-specific parts.

That said, the Transporter's reputation for reliability means it may be less likely to generate claims, which insurers may factor into van insurance premiums for businesses. Its extensive suite of safety aids, like autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, can also help lower costs.

While the Transit is likely to be the cheaper van to insure overall, the Transporter's robust build and advanced safety tech mean the difference in business van insurance costs may be smaller than their group ratings suggest.

Ultimately, the price of business van insurance will depend on your specific van model and circumstances, such as your location, driving history and annual mileage. Comparing quotes from multiple insurers and considering fleet discounts or telematics policies can help you find the best deal on van insurance.

Ford Transit

Image taken from the Ford Transit product page

Driving experience

The Ford Transit delivers a class-leading driving experience with its responsive engines and agile handling, while the Volkswagen Transporter impresses with its smooth and refined ride. The Transit's new E-Transit generally outshines the Transporter's electric offerings.

The Ford Transit sets the standard for driving dynamics in the medium van segment. Its range of powerful and efficient EcoBlue diesel engines, combined with well-tuned suspension, delivers an engaging and confidence-inspiring drive. The electric power steering is precise and the ride strikes an impressive balance between comfort and composure.

The star of the Transit lineup is the new E-Transit — a fully electric version with an impressive 196-mile range and driving characteristics that rival the diesel models. It's set to be a game-changer in the electric van market.

The Volkswagen Transporter is no slouch, either. While it may not quite match the Transit's driver engagement, it counters with a smooth, refined and easy-to-drive character that will appeal to many. The TDI diesel engines are strong performers, if a bit noisier than the Ford's.

The Transporter's ride quality is a highlight, effortlessly soaking up bumps and providing excellent long-distance comfort. However, Volkswagen's electric van offerings can't quite match the E-Transit for range or performance at this stage.

Interior and technology

The Volkswagen Transporter has the edge for interior quality and advanced technology, with its premium, car-derived cab and cutting-edge infotainment system. The Ford Transit's interior is still very good, offering modern design and the slick SYNC 3 system on higher trims.

The Transporter's cab borrows heavily from Volkswagen's latest passenger cars, featuring premium materials, excellent build quality, and a thoroughly modern design. The available 10-inch digital cockpit and advanced infotainment system with clear graphics and online connectivity are real standouts.

Crew cab versions offer good space and comfort, though legroom for taller occupants could be better. Overall, it's a high-quality environment that feels a cut above the van norm.

The Ford Transit's interior is no poor relation, though. The latest versions feature a car-like dash design with plenty of storage options and decent materials. The 8-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment system on higher trims is responsive and intuitive, offering navigation, smartphone mirroring and voice control.

The Transit's cab is spacious with a highly adjustable driving position. Though perhaps lacking the Transporter's final veneer of premium quality, it's still one of the best interiors in the class.

Volkswagen Transporter

Image taken from Volkswagen Transporter product page


The Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter are closely matched for practicality, with both offering a wide range of body sizes, roof heights and configurations. The Transit has a higher maximum payload, but the Transporter counters with a lower load floor and versatile body options.

Both vans are available in a variety of lengths and heights to suit diverse business needs. The Transit offers slightly higher gross payload capacities, up to 1,400kg in its most capable guise, whereas the Transporter maxes out around 1,300kg.

In terms of load space, the Transporter has a fractionally longer load floor in its largest size. It also benefits from a lower load floor height and a wider opening between the rear wheel arches.

The Transit claws back points with its highly manoeuvrable short wheelbase option, and the availability of the new 5-tonne Transit derivative for the heaviest-duty applications.

Both vans provide well-shaped load bays with plenty of lashing points, while the Transporter offers a clever non-slip wood flooring option. Each can be specified with a variety of factory conversions and adaptations to suit specific business requirements.

Costs and value

The Ford Transit typically offers lower entry pricing and running costs, especially with the efficient E-Transit. The Volkswagen Transporter is pricier to buy and maintain but delivers strong residual values and a premium ownership experience.

The Transit has a lower starting price than the Transporter, particularly on volume models. Ford's expansive dealer network means maintenance costs are competitive and parts supply is excellent. The E-Transit promises to significantly reduce running costs for businesses able to make the switch to electric.

The Transporter commands higher initial prices, reflecting its premium positioning. But it makes up for this over time with very strong residual values, bolstered by that desirable VW badge. However, Volkswagen parts and labour rates are generally higher, so routine servicing will likely cost more over the life of the vehicle.

Reliability and aftersales

Both the Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter have strong reputations for build quality and reliability. The Transporter has a slight edge for longer service intervals, while the Transit benefits from Ford's massive dealer network.

The Transporter is renowned for its robust build and long-term durability, consistently scoring well in reliability surveys. It also benefits from longer service intervals than the Transit, at up to 24 months or 18,000 miles. Volkswagen's after sales support and mobile servicing options are highly regarded.

The Transit is generally seen as a dependable workhorse, though it has experienced some teething issues with the latest EcoBlue diesel engines, particularly regarding oil consumption and injectors. However, Ford's vast dealer network means you're never far from support, while Transit24 online booking and mobile servicing further reduce downtime.

Both vans come with a 3-year/100,000-mile warranty, though the Transporter's can be extended to 5 years and 200,000 miles for an extra cost. Volkswagen also offers a range of attractive servicing packages to help fix maintenance costs.

Van driver smiling sitting in van


If you prioritise driving dynamics, lower costs, and the option to go fully electric, the Ford Transit is probably your best choice. If you want premium quality, advanced technology, and strong residual values, go for the Volkswagen Transporter.

Choosing between these two excellent panel vans will come down to your key priorities. The Ford Transit continues to impress with its car-like driving experience, reasonable pricing, and the availability of the E-Transit. This makes it a great choice for businesses seeking low running costs, an enjoyable drive, and zero-emission capability.

The Volkswagen Transporter makes a strong case with its undeniable build quality, cutting-edge tech, and that prestige VW image. While it may cost more upfront, it will reward buyers with a premium ownership experience and assured long-term value retention.

Before you make a decision, consider your upfront and ongoing budgets, and be sure to book a test drive to make sure you feel happy behind the wheel.

Ultimately, whichever you choose — the trusty Transit or the classy Transporter — you'll be driving one of the finest medium vans on the market today.