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 about 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.
New for 2011
Ford adds a taxi prep package and a package for people with disabilities, as well as an online custom graphics program.
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. Exterior features include:
- Sliding second-row doors available with or without windows
- Rear doors swing open 180 degrees or (optionally) 255 degrees
- Standard 15-inch wheels
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.
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. Interior features include:
- Standard air conditioning
- Standard AM/FM stereo
- Optional power windows and door locks
- Optional Ford Work Solutions system, which can track inventory and fleet vehicles
- Optional interior customization to manage cargo
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.
Safety features include:
- Standard front-and side-impact airbags
- Standard front disc and rear drum antilock brakes
- An electronic stability system with rollover mitigation standard on passenger version and optional on the cargo van
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