Review and road test of the Ford Tourneo Courier (2018 - 2020)
By Jonathan Crouch
With the Tourneo Courier, sold between 2018 and 2020, Ford reverted to van-based underpinnings for its smallest MPV. And in doing so, made its most affordable People Carrier far more spacious inside. It may not be the family car you dreamed of. But it might well be the one you actually need.
[petrol] 1.0 EcoBoost / [diesel] 1.5 TDCi
Sometimes, something simpler is more sensible. Take the turn of the century trend to create small People Carriers with bespoke car-like design. All you actually need as a starting point for such a vehicle is a small van. And if you agree and happen to be looking for a very compact MPV made in the 2018-2020 period, you might be interested in this one, the Ford Tourneo Courier.
Back in 2014, Ford launched its smallest-ever van, the Transit Courier. It was a design able to provide a perfect base for the creation of a supermini-sized People Carrier, but that option wasn't initially taken up because the Blue Oval brand already had one of those in its range, the Fiesta-based B-MAX. That car, launched in 2012 and notable for a clever design that completely dispensed with a central B-pillar, was ultimately a casualty of the market's fashion-led switch away from MPVs to SUVs and was quietly deleted in 2018.
Rather than replace it with something else styled from scratch, thoughts at Ford's design department turned back to the Transit Courier and its suitability as a base for a little People Carrier. Which is why we got this car, the Tourneo Courier, launched in mid-2018 as part of a rejuvenated range of van-based Ford Tourneo People Movers.
Despite the LCV underpinnings, there's no lack of sophistication here. Especially under the bonnet where family buyers chose between Ford's 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel or a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine enhanced with cylinder deactivation. There's also the brand's cutting-edge 'SYNC3' infotainment technology. But of course most important is the fact that this little MPV is far more spacious inside than you'd think a vehicle of this size would have any right to be. This car sold until 2020 - and wasn't replaced.
What You Get
This Tourneo Courier delivers honest van-derived design with refreshingly frank simplicity. The main visual change the brand made during this car's short production run was to update its front grille. Otherwise, the main thing of note here is just how much cabin space Ford was able to fit into a car with a supermini-sized roadway footprint
You get a real feel for that behind the wheel. This may have been Ford's smallest MPV in its period but you wouldn't think that from a seat inside. The perception of airiness is helped by the vast amount of headroom - and by superb all-round vision with an expansive windscreen that stretches high above your field of vision. Everything falls to hand easily and the centre stack was updated later in this model's production run with the option of the brand's latest 'SYNC 3' infotainment technology. As you'd expect from a People Carrier, there's plenty of cabin storage, including a wide overhead shelf and a front passenger seat pull-out drawer
You'd be tempted to say that there's just as much room as you'd get in the far pricier Tourneo Connect model. That airy roof height certainly makes it feel like that. Each sliding door include pop-out windows and thoughtfully incorporates a cup holder and a little shallow tray. And, as standard, you get fold-back trays built into the front seat backs, each capable of holding up to 3kgs of weight.
What about the boot? You've to negotiate a huge tailgate in order to get to it (which can be awkward in situations where you're backed up against a wall). But once everything's open, it's hard to grumble about the amount of space on offer. If you're using the parcel shelf, you can reposition it at two different heights so as it separate various parts of your load - say the family dog from the shopping. Take it out though, and the boot is very spacious indeed. There's 708-litres of capacity. And if you need more, the 60-40-split rear bench pushes forward in two stages, first tumbling onto the seat base. Then, if you pull on the additional lower straps, you can lift up the seat base and fold it forward against the front seat backs, freeing up as much as 1,656-litres of capacity.
What to Look For
As usual with a supermini-sized family car, check the interior for child damage. And with top-spec versions, check the alloy wheels for scratches. Look for any dents, dings and scratches to the panelwork. And ensure that the clutch engages smoothly and that the car goes into gear easily. The 1.5-litre diesel engine is fitted with a diesel particulate filter, but this may be clogged up if the previous owner hasn't completed too many highway journeys.
(approx based on a 2020 Tourneo Courier 1.0 EcoBoost - Ex Vat)
An oil filter is in the £10 bracket. A fuel filter costs around £30. A rear outer lamp costs around £84. A rear brake disc cost in the £150 bracket. A front brake pad set is in the £70 bracket. A radiator is in the £106-£194 bracket. A water pump is in the £45-£87 bracket. An alternator is in the £617 bracket.
On the Road
It's always quite refreshing to drive a car whose only purpose in life is to get from A to B as affordably as possible. So there are no pretensions here - no dynamic expectations that might be disappointed. The underpinnings are derived from the old sixth generation Fiesta but the engines are borrowed from the current one, which means that Tourneo Courier buyers choose either a 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel unit or the 1.0-litre three cylinder EcoBoost powerplant. Both engines put out 100PS and must be mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. The EcoBoost variant will be the choice of most, who'll approve of the fact that this unit's efficiency was enhanced by the addition of cylinder deactivation. As a result, assuming you get a car whose original owner paid extra for the Auto Start-Stop system, a WLTP-rated combined cycle economy figure of up to 43.5mpg is possible, with an NEDC-rated 122g/km of CO2.
Ride quality over broken surfaces isn't as smooth as we'd like, but things settle down at highway speeds. At that point, the petrol engine's buzzy thrum subsides a little too, though you do still get quite a lot of wind and road noise from the boxy shape and the high profile tyres. As you'd expect from a car with such an expansive glass area, this MPV is simplicity itself to manoeuvre. The boxy shape makes it easy to see where the corners of the car are, the wide door mirrors are a commercial carry-over you'll be glad of and the expansive windscreen gives you a far wider field of vision than you'd get in a supermini. In fact, a Tourneo Courier delivers far more of a lot of things than you'd get in a supermini, but that won't prevent it from being a relatively rare sight on our roads.
Once upon a time, when vans were crude and basic, the stereotype that saw them shunned by mainstream buyers as bases for MPV transport was perhaps well deserved. But that's not true any more. Modern LCVs share virtually all the same engineering attributes as compact cars - and much of the same interior technology too. And a commercial vehicle's boxy shape is of course perfect for the practical requirements of a family People Mover. All of which explains our approval at Ford's decision in 2018 to revert to commercial vehicle design for its smallest MPV model. This Tourneo Courier may feel slightly more like a delivery vehicle as a result, but the pay-offs are well worthwhile in terms of the increases in space and versatility that it can offer over the brand's previous B-MAX design.
Ultimately, what matters here is space and sensibility, both these things being predictably strong Tourneo Courier selling points. If you don't need seven seats, we'd even say that it makes more sense than the brand's larger Tourneo Connect model. And if space and practicality are everything, it obviously makes more sense than that conventional family hatchback you might have been looking at. But of course it's not as sophisticated or as stylish. Does that really matter? If you think not, you're one of the relatively few family buyers still looking for a compact MPV and you want a compact one from the 2018-2020 period, then one of these ought to make your short list.
Ford Tourneo Courier (2018 - 2020) review by Jonathan Crouch