Ford's "One Ford" strategy — which refers to the company's plan to leverage its global product lineup to spread models across new markets — is responsible for bringing the Transit Connect stateside. It's a small commercial van Ford introduced in Europe and other markets in 2003. Maximum cargo space is reportedly 135 cubic feet, close to that of larger minivans. Ford says it made a few styling tweaks to suit the U.S. market, but the Transit Connect's 2.0-liter four-cylinder — the sort of engine you'd find in a compact car — speaks more to Europe's fuel prices than to America's penchant for horsepower.
The front-wheel-drive Transit Connect comes in cargo and passenger configurations, the latter with a second row. Trim levels include a base XL and a better-equipped XLT.
The Transit Connect isn't very long from nose to tail, but its height allows for the cavernous interior. At 180.6 inches long, the van is significantly longer than hatchbacks like the Chevy HHR and Scion xB, but it's nearly 2 feet shorter than minivans like the Honda Odyssey, Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna. Total height, at nearly 80 inches, tops the minivans by almost a foot.
The sliding second-row van-style doors come with or without windows, and the saloon-style rear doors swing open 180 degrees or (optionally) 255 degrees. Ford says the cargo floor has a load height of less than 2 feet — relatively low, considering most versions of the Dodge Sprinter large commercial van have a 27.6-inch cargo height.
Fifteen-inch steel wheels with plastic covers are standard.
The cabin has basic seats and plenty of hard, industrial contours. Storage areas include a large shelf above the windshield — made possible by the van's high ceiling. From the load floor to the ceiling, Ford says there's up to 59.1 inches of room, just 5.9 inches short of what a standard-height Dodge Sprinter offers.
The XL comes fairly bereft of convenience features — air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo are standard, but you'll have to get the XLT if you want power windows and door locks. Ford's optional Work Solutions hardware includes items such as an in-car computer with wireless internet capabilities, an inventory tracking system and onboard telematics to track a fleet of vehicles. Ford can also customize the interior with cargo management additions — from shelves to partitions — to suit individual owners' needs.
In passenger versions, the second row can be configured with two seats grouped to one side or three seats across. They can be folded down to maximize cargo room.
Under the Hood
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 136 horsepower and 128 pounds-feet of torque — small numbers, but enough to haul a 1,600-pound payload, according to Ford. That's a figure comparable to many light-duty pickup trucks.
A four-speed automatic transmission is standard. Ford estimates combined city/highway gas mileage will be in the low to mid-20s.
Front and side-impact airbags are standard, as are front disc and rear drum antilock brakes. An electronic stability system with rollover mitigation is standard on passenger versions and optional on the cargo van.
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