Ford Transit Connect, 2010: The Weekly Driver Review

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After quick success in several worldwide markets, the 2010 Ford Transit Connect was introduced in North America in mid-2009 after its debut at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show. Unlike wildly configured new vehicles like the Nissan Cube and Kia Soul, the Transit Connect joined the marketplace for a specific reason — practicality.It’s a utilitarian van ideal for small business owners who need a comfortable transport panel van, but it’s also a good crossover passenger vehicle. Ford calls it a leisure activity vehicle.

Named “North American Truck of the Year 2010” at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), the 2010 Ford Transit Connect can seat five, but can also be configured to seat two.


It has minivan-like sliding rear-side doors and two rear “barn doors” similar to a commercial van. The Transit Connect is front-wheel drive and comes in XL and XLT trim levels. The sole powertrain teams a 136-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

Ford’s official web site features several examples of small businesses customizing the Transit Connect with various signage and with several interior modifications. The examples all provide ideal reasons why 600,000 Transits have sold in 58 countries and on four continents since the “leisure activity vehicle” debuted in 2003.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

It didn’t take more than a few minutes on my first drive in the Transit Connect to generate comments. One relative (my wife) and one acquaintance (the woman in the local drive-thru coffee kiosk) suggested I open my own airport van service to compete with Super Shuttle.

Another friend thought I should become a painting contractor or open an ice cream delivery company. All of the comments were funny and some made sense. With its tall profile, slide rear doors and rear “barn doors,” the Transit Connect is an attention-grabber.

Interior

The Transit Connect is aptly named via its utilitarian interior. It’s a work truck with side panels and tie-down hooks and wide open space. It’s the ideal workmanlike vehicle for lugging around the tools and supplies of a small business of choice.

The cloth front and back seats are comfortable and spacious, with seating for five. Controls and all functions are straightforward, with the exception of the computer system, the vehicle’s most unique feature. It’s called a “workplace solutions” system incorporated into navigation system.

The system includes a wireless keyboard stored in a shelf running across the top of the dashboard. When the system is downloaded (there’s a few-minute delay) word processing, email, web browsing and several other functions are available.

With other available features like Tool Link (a radio frequency identification system for tools) Crew Chief (fleet tracking) and a multiple configuration option for bulkhead, racks, bins and uplift, the Transit Connect is the modern-day, enclosed version of a pick-up truck. Or, as Ford describes it: “the ideal urban-oriented, light-duty commercial van.”

Exterior

With its tall profile, the Transit Connect is hard to miss. There’s nothing spectacular, with two exceptions. For a utilitarian van, there’s a lot of consideration for the vehicle as a passenger vehicle with its large front, side and rear windows. The rear “barn doors” can also fold back against the sides of the vehicle by unlatching an interior pin on the each door and hooking the doors to an outside latch.

Likes

Versatility.

High positioned driver’s seat offers panoramic views.

Comfortable seats.

Big windows offer good vision.

Vast cargo space (135 cubic feet) and head room (79 inches floor to top).

East-to-adjust seats.

Dislikes

Underpowered.

Noisy drive, particularly on freeway since there’s no insulation on the cabin walls.

Sliding, second-seat door is cumbersome, difficult to close.

2010 Ford Transit Connect: Facts & Figures

Acceleration: Not tested.
Antilock brakes: Standard
Fuel economy: 22-25 mpg city/highway
Government Safety Ratings — Front: driver (five stars), passengers (four stars); Side: front (five stars), rear (five stars); Rollover resistance (three stars).
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $22,350.00
Price As Tested: $24,975.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:


“For businesses looking to field a fleet of the little vans, the Transit Connect looks like a great value. For personal-use buyers like the members of the Art League, the Transit Connect’s personalization potential as a blank canvas makes it priceless.”
—- Popular Mechanics.

“This van is not designed for driver gratification; it’s all business. As an urban commercial hauler, it’s great and even a little bit distinctive.”
—- Car and Driver

“The Transit Connect is European chic with a Puritan work ethic.”
—- Detroit News

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:


“It’s not very fast and it’s not particularly handsome. But it has the making of a good wannabe ice cream delivery truck or it could be a handyman’s best friend. Driving it made me want to open a small business, drive around town, talk to people and fix stuff or at least sell elixir or ice cream.”

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