Base vehicle: Ford Transit Price from: £48,360 Berths: 4 Travel seats: 2/4 Length: 7.34m Width: 2.35m Height: 2.88m Gross weight: 3,500kg Payload: 500kg
Tribute is a brand-new range for this season and it’s no longer related to the Imala (the next rung up the Auto-Trail ladder). Most significantly, the new line-up is based on the Ford Transit, which actually gives it a big plus over more expensive Auto-Trails (and many of its rivals).
Just facelifted, the latest Transit is not as prevalent in the leisure market as the Ducato/Boxer twins but can thousands upon thousands of white van drivers be wrong? We think not. The latest model has a much more modern fascia design than the Fiat, a lower (more car-like) seating position and rides our worn-out roads better thanks to its more absorbent, less crashy suspension.
Here, the standard 128bhp engine is smooth and adequately powerful, but you might be tempted to upgrade to the 168bhp unit as it’s only £1,200 extra. Either engine can be mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox for £1,740.
There are just four models in the new range and this is probably the most family-friendly layout (although you might also consider the similar-length F70 with its rear single beds and garage). As with any of the new Tributes, it’s £825 more to have the version with rear seatbelts – here an L-shaped settee replaces the standard straight bench on the offside.
You’ll probably want to add the electric drop-down bed, too (that’s £800). It comes down nice ‘n’ low (just 0.96m off the floor) and doesn’t impede access through the habitation door when lowered because the mattress narrows towards the nearside. Bed measurements are 1.91m long by 1.22m wide (but only 0.87m at the foot).
The F72 layout is the British classic of lounges front and rear. The length is 7.34m (24ft in old money) and it’s an every-driver-friendly 3,500kg gross weight. The body design is a neat low-profile with big overcab sunroof and a choice of seven cab colours (a non-metallic dark blue is standard).
Although there’s no garage here, there are external hatches on either side into a space that goes the full width of the ’van under the sofa. Headroom inside the locker is 370mm. Further forward, the habitation door has a window, bin and flyscreen – or it does if you tick the box marked Lux Pack at £1,399 – but the entrance is quite high, so the electric external step is essential.
That pack adds other goodies, such as a radio with sat-nav, reversing camera, solar panel, Omnivent and carpets.
Inside, the front lounge feels spacious because there’s no fixed table – a free-standing unit (its top measuring 950mm by 580mm) stores in a bespoke locker next to the fridge and can be used in either lounge.
The cooler is a tall 142-litre unit mounted off the floor for convenient access. Adjacent, there’s just enough worktop thanks to the triangular shape of the three-burner hob, while a Thetford Duplex oven/grill is also fitted.
Opposite the galley, it’s a step up into the washroom, where you’ll find a new square basin, adequate room on and around the loo, a decent amount of storage and, most importantly, a separate shower. There’s a roof vent over the toilet, but not the shower.
Alongside the bathroom is a double-doored wardrobe which reduces the length of the lounge on this side. The offside sofa is 1.59m long, compared with 1.12m on the nearside, so you might feel a bit hemmed in here with the table erected.
Using this space for lounging and the front seating for dining probably makes most sense, while the end lounge also turns into a 2.11m-long double bed with the aid of caravan-style slats to fill in the centre.