2017 Ford Transit Custom 290S auto v Volkswagen Transporter TDI340 auto comparison

A growing majority of tradies and delivery drivers are choosing automatic transmissions for their vans, in a bid to give their left feet a rest in the daily grind of gridlock.

The majority of these vans sold are the fleet-favoured (but ordinary to drive) Toyota HiAce and the evergreen Hyundai iLoad, but here we’re looking at the next rung down.

The latest van to get a self-shifter is the Ford Transit Custom, which we test here in short-wheelbase (SWB) 290S guise against one of its closest rivals – the Volkswagen Transporter TDI340 SWB.

This pair have entrenched themselves as staples of the mid-sized van class alongside the aforementioned Toyota and Hyundai, plus the (manual-only) Renault Trafic, $45,975 Mercedes-Benz Vito 114 BlueTEC auto and bargain-basement $33K LDV G10.

Often, this pair of slightly premium vans are purchased by single operators who want something comfortable for their mobile office, or those drawn to the lure of a Euro workhorse.

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