In the United States, the Ford Transit Connect sells as a small utility vehicle replacement for the Ford Ranger. The reality is Ford sells them elsewhere in the world with with glass side windows as family transportation. With the redesigned Transit Connect, Ford decided to sell that version of the van here. We recently had the opportunity to take a quick spin in a vehicle Ford calls the “Unminivan” to see if they have something to combat the heavyweight Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
If you’re looking for a luxury minivan, the Transit Connect isn’t for you. Sure, there are some nice features you won’t find on other cars, but overall the Transit Connect is a bit stripped out. The sliding side doors are manually operated. The rear hatch doesn’t lift automatically. There isn’t a 13-zone climate control system.
What there is, is space. The driver and front passenger have a generous 46.8 inches of headroom. The Transit Connect has so much space that it received the endorsement of Tall Clubs International as the perfect vehicle for the “vertically gifted.”
The Titanium version that we drove only comes with a long wheelbase. This means room for seven, and a lot of space for all of them. Since the Transit Connect is also a utility van, the Wagon has the versatility to haul up to 1,200 lbs. The rear storage loads easily thanks to the low floor.
The Transit Connect Titanium starts at $29,000, which is only $1,000 more than the base Honda Odyssey. A non-opening panoramic glass roof brightens up the interior for $1,295. An additional $840 adds MyFord Touch with a rearview camera.
One feature it does have, that we wish every car sold in the United States had, as an option is the Quickclear Windshield Defrost. This $300 option adds little wires in the windshield that defrost the windshield like most cars’ rear glass does. It can clear two inches of snow from the windshield in approximately two minutes.
Finally, $495 adds a front and rear parking sensor system. The camera is helpful in parking, but having the extra sensors at both ends makes this van feel smaller than it really is.
On the road, the Transit Connect is a unique experience. From the driver’s seat, it feels like you’re driving a Greyhound bus with the large windshield and tall roof. But when it comes to steering feel and handling, if feels like a Focus or C-Max.
We wish that Ford didn’t use the screen from the Fiesta for the MyFord Touch system. The 6.5 inch display doesn’t feel at home in a vehicle as large as it is. We do appreciate it comes with navigation and dual zone climate control.
The Titanium trim only comes in the long wheelbase version, and long wheelbase Transit Connects only have a 2.5L Duratec 4-cylinder engine. It makes 169 hp and 171 lb/ft of torque, but we’d like to see the 1.6L EcoBoost that’s optional in other versions be optional here.
The 2.5L engine mated with the 6-speed automatic transmission gets the Transit Connect a 28 mpg rating on the highway, matching the Odyssey.
We like the simplicity of the experience. Once you start adding options to a competitor’s van, the price begins to soar. If you check every option box on the Transit Connect you’ll end up just over $33,000.
It’s interesting what Ford is doing with the Transit Connect. The simplicity of the vehicle means there are less things to break and less things for the kids to destroy. William Mattiace, Ford’s communications manager for Transit Connect, described the van as a car that “families take to see the world’s largest donut, and not Disneyland.” The customer they plan on appealing to isn’t the same customer that would look at an Odyssey or a Sienna.
Our only challenge would be finding the right color. The one we drove came in Solar/Mustard paint, and while it stands out we’re not sure if it’s the right color for us. The Transit Connect’s design and color options do make it stand out in the van crowd.
We look forward to spending more time with the Transit Connect later in the year, but our first drive impressed us. If you’re looking for a family hauler with a ton of space for not a lot of money, the Transit Connect is a very viable option.
|Motor Review Fast Facts:|
|Trim Package:||Titanium LWB|
|Fuel Economy:||20mpg city / 28mpg highway / 23mpg combined|
|Engine:||2.5L DOHC Duratec I4|
|Horsepower and Torque:||169hp and 171lbs/ft|
|Price as Tested:||$33,315|
|Pros:||Space. Heated windshield.|
|Cons:||Polaizing looks. Small infotainment screen.|
|Final Thoughts:||Ford calls it the Unminivan, and it is unlike any other minivan on the road.|
|Vehicle provided by manufacturer for review.|