CARS.COM — Ford had an unexpected hit on its hands when it first introduced the Transit Connect to the U.S. market. A European-style delivery van/people hauler based on a beefed-up Ford Focus chassis, it truly was a “white space” product for the U.S. There was nothing like it, not for the price, and it quickly became the class leader as other automakers introduced less sophisticated offerings of their own.
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Fast forward to 2018, and we’ve now seen the 2019 Ford Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show … and if you hadn’t told us the ’19 was updated, we wouldn’t have been able to distinguish it. The styling changes are subtle to the point of barely noticeable — the headlights and grille are new, but it still looks like a Focus or a Fusion. The design is still quirky and unusual, but it’s not unattractive. The upright cabin and tall roof allows for some pretty fantastic visibility out.
Inside, there also hasn’t been much change at all. Most noticeable is an optional 6.5-inch tablet-style touchscreen that’s now plastered to the middle of the dash. Some folks like this look, while others deride it as looking “tacked on,” but it is clear, legible and features the latest Ford Sync 3 system, which is top-notch for usability and easy connectivity.
The Transit Connect is comfortable, as well, with plenty of room for passengers in the first two rows of seats. The seat adjustability is welcome, too, and if you opt for a three-row long-wheelbase model, you’ll have some room for two in the last row — but that seat is best kept for short-distance trips or relegated to kids only. It has a knees-in-your-chin seating position that most adults will find unpleasant after a short time.
The interior updates to the Transit Connect are underwhelming. It still uses the same hard-plastic interior trim bits for the dash and doors, so while Ford is billing the wagon version as a cost-effective alternative people hauler for frugal empty-nesters looking for a cheap-to-run mini-minivan, it’s certainly not as nice as some more conventional competitors. Then again, it doesn’t really need to be, as there’s still nothing else in the segment that can quite match what the Transit Connect offers in terms of utility and value. With a frugal new turbodiesel engine now part of the package, if you enjoyed what the Transit Connect offered before, you’re likely still going to think it’s a good idea.
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