By on July 30, 2009

Down on the showroom floor, the guys talk about the “Needs-Payoff:” trying to turn a customer’s perceived need into a coveted sale. This marketing concept finds its Ford translation in the highly anticipated solution, the Transit Connect. The Blue Oval Boyz see gold in them there panel vans—assuming gas prices go north of the three dollar mark as their number crunchers and street-walking doom preachers predict. Gas prices be damned; the Transit Connect screams success for many self-made citizens, provided they don’t carry more than 1600 lb or tow anything to bring home the bacon.

Aside from the droopy-lip front bumper, Ford’s cargo van (in XL trim) succeeds where the first Dodge Caravan “CV” failed: it’s elegantly utilitarian, not frumpy and cheap. The wicked fast A-pillar climbs above the door frames for a quirky dash of style, much to the wannabe-SUV Scion xB’s disappointment. In fact, I reckon the Transit does the vanning thing like the VW Microbus. Plus, I felt so cheeky and European just standing next to it.

But automotive Mennonites rejoice, because there’s no mistaking a Transit Connect for a CUV. Hard but rich-grained plastics surround your fingers, there’s painted sheetmetal elsewhere. Ford threw in some retro masonite paneling on the rear doors for that unfinished art studio feel. Combined with the cargo’s rubber floor, RV-worthy overhead storage, perky seat fabrics and surprisingly high quality buttons and vent registers, the Transit Connect appeals to more than the ordinary work truck buyer.

Not all is perfect: the center console with floor shifter is a waste of space, especially since it lacks an armrest for the passenger seat. But (optional) features like Ford’s laptop Work Solutions system makes sitting on the Transit Connect’s modest yet accommodating bucket seats better than a day spent in your average cubicle. And it’s reasonably fun to drive, much like today’s taller, fatter Ford Focus. No surprise then, the Transit Connect handles like a hot hatchback that’s taken an Octomom-like fancy for in-vitro fertilization.

Unlike any other van, the Transit Connect corners flat in most situations, with stunning lateral grip and less push than expected from a nose heavy beast: I clipped a freeway underpass at twice the speed of our Ford Econoline tester, realizing the Transit Connect had plenty more.

And just like the Focus, there’s a 2.0L Duratec I-4 and a four-speed slushbox under the hood. The gutsy and thrash-free four cylinder made for effortless merging on a Texas highway filled with larger hauling machines. An unladen Transit Connect moves at a decent clip, but the intimidation level rises considerably when reaching the van’s cargo limit: a small-bore motor takes time to build steam when a wide ratio gearbox keeps the revs down and out for the count. Europeans will find it immediately familiar, Americans will find it slightly annoying.

So keep a loaded Transit Connect in the city and enjoy the ergonomics: the (optional) rear doors swing out 255° with the push of a button, and the mid section’s sliding doors open effortlessly, sans motorized assists. All 135 cubic feet of cargo space is easy to reach, and users shorter than six feet tall can walk inside without folding in half. If there’s enough space for a service tech and his storage shelving system back there, every other work vehicle is screwed. Sell your camper shell futures now!

But nobody’s perfect: like every other portal on the Transit Connect, opening the hood requires the ignition key. Which means you have to turn off the van to get under the bonnet. And the hood’s latch/lock combo resides under the grille’s Ford Oval. Missed that in the owner’s manual? Fear not: the instructions are under the grille’s logo, where your less-than-attentive employees cannot find it. Unless the logo is misaligned like our tester, refusing to latch shut. Hey, Europe, what’s so bad about an in-cabin hood release?

And the ignition key that opens everything is still in trouble. Lose it back beyond the radiator after opening the hood and Ford charges $200 for a replacement key, which you cannot buy anywhere but a FoMoCo dealer since it isn’t shared with another US-bound Ford product. Uh-oh.

While the Transit Connect is influenced from the USA Ford parts bin, the lessons learned from the Dodge Sprinter are obvious: component cost, availability and downtime from poor dealer training/servicing can kill Dearborn’s latest, brightest idea. Eventually.

If so, a comparable Econoline is only two grand more, and it’ll keep food on your plate if Ford turns this (showroom) hero into a (service department) zero. But let’s hope this gas-sipping global sensation gets the C-level Executive love it truly deserves, and, unlike the Ford Contour/Mondeo, meets its potential in the USA. If not, chalk up this idea with the rest of Ford’s famous American nameplates that bit the dust from corporate greed and product neglect. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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103 Comments on “Review: 2010 Ford Transit Connect Cargo XL...”


  • avatar
    midelectric

    I’ve been looking forward to this vehicle, even moreso the electric version that was supposed to be here by now. Glad it works well but surprised it got five stars considering the 4 speed auto and no diesel option.

  • avatar
    relton

    The exterior hood lock was used for 2 reasons:

    1. It saves having to tool up and route different inside hood releases for right and left hand drive.

    2. The underhood components are more protected should someone break into the cabin.

    I thought it was rather an elegant solution.

    Bob

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Looks as if it could be customized into a family hauler/ camper with a much roomier interior and much safer body structure than variants of the VW Microbus.

  • avatar
    mach1

    This is one great little van that will define the segment. It is an honest commercial vehicle that was designed to withstand the harsh usage in Eastern Europe and Turkey. I hope can bring the Connect here in sufficient numbers to satisfy demand. This should really catch on with the outfitters for things like taxis, wheelchair vans, and minibuses, The high roof and low floor make it a breeze to get in and out of the wide sliding door.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I sat in a Connect at the local auto show; what a nice vehicle. At 6’7″, I love the headroom, which is one reason I have an xB.

    It sure seemed like an ideal people mover if a few seats and windows were installed.

    Most appealing: it’s a step back from the bloated boxes that minivans have become.

  • avatar
    findude

    I saw a truckload of these on I-95 the other day. They seem intelligently sized and configured. I’d worry a little about it cannibalizing Ford sales of the tired Ranger as a fleet vehicle for the pesticide-service crowd and similar industries.

    I hope Ford does well with this. There’s been a dearth of economical service/fleet vehicles in the USA for a long time.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    My wife does craft shows; her inventory is bulky but doesn’t weigh much. It’s possible that we could load both the products and the booth furniture in one of these rigs; I’ll be looking at one.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    So…are all the folks that have trashed other vehicles because they don’t cater to every enthusiast whim (Prius anyone) going to feak on this?

    ;^D

    No, I expect not, it would make the absurdity of their behavior to obvious.

    Could be a cool little van, hope they do well with it.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Naturally many TTACers will be disappointed that there is no manual transmission option and no diesel. But it’s definitely the right call by Ford.

    Curious note: since it’s the standard Ford 2.0 under the hood, there are plenty of options to tune the hell out of it. Frankly I find the idea of a 220 hp turbocharged Transit connect hilarious.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    The key-locking hood thing will cause a big pain in the ass for oil changes….

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Looks like I found my new apartment.

    So shag carpet or wood paneling?

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Looks like it is time to rename the Econoline. If the TC costs less to buy and costs less to run than the old faithful Ford van, there doesn’t seem to be much Econo left in that line. :)

    Also, I like the concept. But I still think it looks kinda funny.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @gslippy: across the pond they get the Tourneo Connect, with 3 rows of seating and windows all around. I’m not sure that vehicle could compete head-on with “big and bloated” US-market minivans without some serious upgrades, such as side curtain airbags, rear AC, DVD, etc.

  • avatar
    Trip

    oldowl wrote:
    Looks as if it could be customized into a family hauler/ camper with a much roomier interior and much safer body structure than variants of the VW Microbus.

    I’ve been following this thing since the winter, as part of my search for a wagon/truck/van “thing” as my next mountain bike hauler and camper once the old Volvo wagon finally coughs up a down-payment part like it’s turbo.

    Anyways, YES, a more practical alternative for a guy who drive 95% on paved, flat or rolling road, as I’ve had the pickup truck thing swirling in my head, living in a mountain town where that’s all anyone aspires to have out here. But do I *really* need 4×4 so I can have another system to break, 10 inch of clearance, more towing and a bed? Maybe, but really no. Overkill. Plus I’d just have to try and find a tall camper top to enclose the things I want to haul anyways, so why bother? And another wagon? At heart, I see them, at least for my purposes, as really a low-roofed van in sedan spirit, so why not just go Van? Yes! Epiphany reached! If the mountain bikes can’t go in standing up, wheels on, then I’m looking elsewhere, and wagons ain’t gonna cut it for that.

    gslippy wrote:
    Most appealing was that it is a step back from the bloated boxes that minivans have become.

    +1 gslippy, like a step back away from the bloated, fat-assed b*llsh*t appliance fetish that is just diluting the hell out pretty much every vehicle made by any brand for this country today. And it won’t matter if everyone and their brother buy’s them, the TC is too utilitarian and ugly (I love it! f*ck the mainstream!) to ever get that much hipster appeal, until it, itself, becomes “hip” out of that reason alone, which is when all the posers will jump on board, but by then it won’t matter, because something else will be out to steal their attention! And I digress.

    The important thing is, it’s here. And I think it’s going to KILL it. And just wait until the Transit itself comes over in 2013. Can’t wait to see what a company like Sportsmobile can do once they get a hold of ‘er!

    Cheers

  • avatar
    PeregrineFalcon

    A vehicle where “Diesel and a stick-shift” should be more than just an internet meme.

    Oh, look, Europe gets a diesel option.

    What the hell, Ford?

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    So when is it going to get the famous Ford outside punch buttons that unlock the doors? Maybe the solution to your ignition key and hood latch resides there.

    Used the diesel Transit and the Sprinter in Europe while stationed there. The Transit was a superior hauler of the most random stuff and the Sprinter was usually our vehicle of choice for moving 15 Soldiers around. Both were much easier to maneuver through city traffic than the Chevy Express vans. If I had a pool cleaning service, this would be my van of choice.

    This begs the question, is the Transit eligible for the CFC $4500 credit being the 2.0L will clearly be a better gas miler than the V-10s in the Econoline.

  • avatar
    Cerbera LM

    The locking bonnet is Ford EU style. Had to ask some Vauxhall driving Brits how to open the bonnet.

    Picture of thee hood latch

    Turn key to the left to unlock, slide fingers under the hood, turn key to the right to unlatch and lift.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I sat in a Connect at the local auto show; what a nice vehicle. At 6′7″, I love the headroom, which is one reason I have an xB.

    I’m a inch and bit taller than you and I agree wholeheartedly. This is one of the few vehicles I can not only easily fit in, but can wear a hat in as well. The useful space is awesome.

    The towing and hauling capacity could be a problem, not because it’s incapable, but because North Americans are conditioned to buy the most they need, rather than the what they’d normally need. For example, this could carry enough for most landscapers, but what I actually see landscapers use are super-duty trucks. I suspect that the Transit will take a little time to get traction, starting at first with electricians and similar repairmen and moving up to carpenters and such as they prove themselves—if Ford has the patience to stick it out for the first few years of rough sales.

    The other problem is that stripped F-150s and Econolines are already really, really cheap. The Transit is going to have real trouble unless gas either plateaus and/or it’s sold very cheaply.

    I’d like to see a taxi version of this car. I spent a lot of time over the past weekend in and out of Town Cars and Crown Vics (and the occasional Camry or Impala) and I really can’t appreciate the low rear roof and bad seat. Something spacious, basic and rugged would do well.

  • avatar
    Garak

    I drive Connects at work (with the diesel and stick shift, of course.) They’re reasonably quick and agile, but have a fairly large turning circle, compared to RWD vans at least. The driver’s seat is cramped but not too uncomfortable.

    The main ergonomic flaw with the Connect is that you can’t open the cargo doors when the engine is running. Why?

    Compared to VW Caddy, the Connect is much more reliable, has better steering feel and a more functional interior. However, a VW Transporter van beats the Connect with its hands tied.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    Plus, I felt so cheeky and European just standing next to it.

    I’d almost compare it more visually to a Suzuki Wagon R+, only obviously somewhat larger.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    PeregrineFalcon :

    A vehicle where “Diesel and a stick-shift” should be more than just an internet meme.

    Oh, look, Europe gets a diesel option.

    What the hell, Ford?

    Here we go. Europe gets diesels and sticks because Europeans buy diesels and sticks. Americans have time and time again not showed a willingness to buy them. Jetta Wagon is a small niche car, and even those are mostly sold with DSGs now.

    Let’s start with the stick shift.

    Most cars sold in America are autos. The cars sold with manual transmissions are at this point nearly all bought by enthusiasts, with a minuscule number going to people old enough to remember when it was called a ‘standard’ transmission who want to save on the cost of the car and who believe (in some cases rightly and in some cases wrongly) that they will save on gas. A small niche of work truck buyers go for manuals, except that this Transit has limited payload ability and no towing.

    The Transit Connect will probably be bought 95% for commercial uses. So, you own a business. You have a fleet of vehicles. Do you want to deal with “Oh, Tommy doesn’t drive stick, so he can’t be assigned to the transit?” Maybe you would be okay with that. Most business owners are not ok with that. What about when you’re done with the truck and now trying to sell it to another business? How many are in the market for a car that limits which employees can drive it?

    As for a diesel here’s why it’s not in the Transit connect:
    (1) See the article re: repair downtime because dealers aren’t familiar with the car. With the 2.0, it’s a cheap and widespread engine. Parts are no problem, and if you’re a mechanic at a Ford dealer you know the 2.0. Now, the 2.0 TDCi? Everyone has to be trained, parts have to be imported, and it’s a nightmare.

    When my family owned a diesel Chevy Suburban in the late 1990s, the dealer we bought it from subsequently refused to service it. (Incidentally, a nearby GMC dealer that did a lot of diesel work wasn’t allowed to service it under warranty).

    (2) Then there’s the price aspect. Tack on another $1000-$2000 for the TDCi engine, which will need to be imported from an expensive-labor European country. Now the Transit Connect costs the same as an Econoline, and Joe the Plumber is saying “what the hell?”

    (2.5) I forgot to mention that Ford’s 4-cylinder engines aren’t federalized. That takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Look at what a Jetta TDI costs versus a Jetta with the gas 2.5.

    (3) Diesel vs. Gas of course brings its own debate about fluctuating fuel prices, quality of diesel in the US, availability of diesel in the US, potential mileage gains.

    ____________________________________________
    The more options there are for a car, the more expensive the whole project is. That’s why Ford is trying to cut configurations of the F-150 from 11.5 billion down to a dozen or so.

    Ford’s goals for the Transit Connect project were to bring it over quickly and cheaply, and to do their best to make it work for work buyers. This was the way to do it.

    By the way, it’s rated at 22 city and 25 highway, which for a “work vehicle” impresses me greatly. No, it won’t haul or tow like a $28,000 Econoline, but it also doesn’t get 12 mpg like an Econoline.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree with your point of view.  It would appear work for either one of the Car comanies (as an apologist) or one of the oil companies because it is a good salary… (really I don’t know…) but the bottom line is EVERYONE KEEPS SAYING that Americans will not buy Diesels.
      Why then, does a TDI Golf with 128,000 miles get listed on the same lot for 12,000 when a A6 Quattro Audi (loaded) with 128,000 miles get listed for 6,000?
      The bottom line is the vehicles are being withheld from the market (they are!) because it is not good for the Oil companies who own this country.
      People like to say that American’s will not buy them.  The rest of the World has Diesel Subarus at 50mpg and we can’t get one through the emissions test.  What are they testing, partculates per liter/gallon, or particulates per mile?  I am sure it is the former, and a very convenient way to keep the Oil companies on the Dole.
      We can deal w/ Stick shifts.  If not we deserver to lose or primacy.
      As for Parts:  Put the engine in more vehicles, like the Focus…  just goes to my points above.
      Re Price of Diesel:  Diesel is cheaper to produce, but again, the Oil Companies have figured out the Game.  It is all about profits and Diesel, without real competion, costs about 20% more than Gas in the US Market (Alone in the world).
      I would rather pay higher taxes than this sham of a system.

  • avatar

    It’ll be interesting to see who buys these.

    They’re not going to be offered with rear seats even as an option, correct?

  • avatar

    Michael: the non-cargo version has a rear bench. And two windows in the sliding doors. And XLT upgrades just like a Ranger. Me likey, but all I had was the XL cargo version at the dealer.

    And Justin did a great job (as always) with the diesel/manual tranny debate. Which really isn’t a debate at all, when you look at the whole picture.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Two things: diesel and stick shift. This could be the perfect family truckster.

  • avatar
    Christopher

    I’m not at all interested in a diesel or stick, but I am interested in a more passenger friendly version of this vehicle. I think it is definitely in the cards. …and when it it is.. I want one!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The key-locking hood thing will cause a big pain in the ass for oil changes….

    If you own the car yourself, you’ll have the key and either unlock it, or give it to the mechanic. If you own a fleet, it’ll prevent “spontaneous old parts installation syndrome”.

  • avatar
    Vorenus

    I sat in this vehicle (in multiple configurations) at the NYIAS, and there is a ridiculous amount of room inside.

    Personally, I can’t see this *NOT* selling to small business owners once they’re out and about and gain a foothold on our roads… but for those asking for a passenger-friendly variant, you might want to go ahead and forget it, unless you’re customizing it yourself.

    I mean… this thing is really bare-bones. I don’t mean that in a BAD way, as that’s how it SHOULD be given its target market (fleet & small business), but those looking for extra comforts had better head elsewhere.

    Oh… and by the way, Ford is offering the Transit Connect with OTHER options (not the comfort kind, but the business kind) such as in-vehicle business computers, equipment trackers (i.e. it knows when a wrench is left behind at Mrs. Johnson’s house), etc.

    This is going to be a win for Ford in the segment for which it’s intended… but FOR PETE’S SAKE, DON’T EXPECT IT TO BE SOMETHING IT’S NOT!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m not at all interested in a diesel or stick, but I am interested in a more passenger friendly version of this vehicle. I think it is definitely in the cards. …and when it it is.. I want one!

    That, I think, will be the killer app for this vehicle and I can understand why Ford is nervous to supply it in such a way: the Transit is not a high-margin car, and Ford’s only other high-capacity people haulers are the much-higher-margin Flex, Explorer and Expedition, not to mention two-row cars that also sell for more.

    I’ve talked to a few Ford people and, despite customer interest in a three-row Transit, there’s extreme reluctance to cannibalize their more profitable cars and trucks. That the Transit is happening at all is, to some, quite remarkable because it could very well do short-term harm to Ford.

    Personally, I love the idea as well. Equipped with three rows of two seats it’s a superior people mover. There’s a lot more useful space than the notional sliver of room in the back of a Mazda5 or Rondo, and it’s a lot less expensive than a Flex or Sienna.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    This trucks biggest battle will be convincing the american trade force that everyone dosen’t need to drive a 3/4 ton pick up to do their job. Truck culture here is silly for sure, but very real.

  • avatar
    Vorenus

    For people clamoring for a passenger-oriented version of this vehicle, realize that this thing is a LONG WAY OFF from being passenger-friendly. It would *not* be a cheap thing for Ford to configure, unless by passenger-friendly, you simply mean “has seats.”

  • avatar
    radimus

    I suspect fleets that can live within its specs will snap these up over full sized vans simply for the fuel savings. I doubt many small business will though, considering how cheaply you can get used cargo vans for.

    Looks like the engine wasn’t the only bit they pulled from the Focus parts bins:

    http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2010/Ford/2010.ford.transit%20connect.20271723-E.jpg

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This trucks biggest battle will be convincing the american trade force that everyone dosen’t need to drive a 3/4 ton pick up to do their job. Truck culture here is silly for sure, but very real.

    I’ve seen European landscapers do things with a Piaggio Ape that a North American uses a Ram 3500HD Dually for. I’m sure there’s times when the you really do need a Super Duty, but taking some shovels, a lawn mower and a some extra detritus is not one of those times.

  • avatar
    Trip

    Michael Karesh wrote:
    They’re not going to be offered with rear seats even as an option, correct?

    Christopher wrote:
    I’m not at all interested in a diesel or stick, but I am interested in a more passenger friendly version of this vehicle. I think it is definitely in the cards. …and when it it is.. I want one!

    Is this maybe close to what you had in mind? The XLT trim. Back row that folds down. And the first one “of color” pictured on Cars.com. $$$ Your welcome. ;-) (I’ve been following inventory since there were only a handful in the States. Heck, it took from May until late June just to get to 50+ over here. Slow trickle, indeed!)

    Cheers,
    Trip

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Manual transmission should have been supplied.

  • avatar
    Christopher

    I guess what I am thinking of in term of “passenger friendly” is somewhat similar to something Ford itself already proposed with their Transit Connect Family One concept. (google it!)

    I don’t think it would be THAT expensive to design and manufacture, but I do agree with the commentator who says that it would seriously cannibalize sales of Flex, Expedition, and Explorer.

  • avatar
    th009

    psarhjinian: I’d like to see a taxi version of this car. I spent a lot of time over the past weekend in and out of Town Cars and Crown Vics (and the occasional Camry or Impala) and I really can’t appreciate the low rear roof and bad seat. Something spacious, basic and rugged would do well.

    Exactly — an evolution of the traditional London Taxi concept. The Transit Connect could do very well there, though that’s where it definitely should have diesel option.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Stingray :

    Manual transmission should have been supplied.

    Why?

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    They have been a big success so far here. Our dealerships fleet department has sold at least 8 so far, and I think a few more are in the works.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    psarhjinian :I’ve seen European landscapers do things with a Piaggio Ape that a North American uses a Ram 3500HD Dually for. I’m sure there’s times when the you really do need a Super Duty, but taking some shovels, a lawn mower and a some extra detritus is not one of those times.

    Exactly. Now try to convice bubba he dosen’t need the duallie to carry his tool belt to work

  • avatar

    psarhjinian :I’ve seen European landscapers do things with a Piaggio Ape that a North American uses a Ram 3500HD Dually for. I’m sure there’s times when the you really do need a Super Duty, but taking some shovels, a lawn mower and a some extra detritus is not one of those times.

    Europeans don’t have McMansions on 1/2 acre lots. I once carried 32 bags of mulch in an SUV (not a CUV) and it was a little scary. More to the point, that covered the garden in the front of the house and about 10% of the rear. Too bad I didn’t have a real truck/cargo van at the time.

    We do some things in this country for a reason, ya know. :)

  • avatar
    forditude

    You guys are funny. Landscapers and small biz owners know they’ll never use the full capacity of F350′s and Ram 3500′s. They buy them because the Section 179 deduction allows them to take a $25000 tax deduction on any vehicle with a GVWR of 6000 or more lbs. Not to mention it can be taken on used vehicles as well. Find a used dually for $35k, write off $25k, take depreciation on the remainder, and also write off all fuel, R&M, oil changes, tires, vehicle insurance, vehicle tolls, parking, washes, and any other expenses incurred to operate and/or maintain it. Why would you settle for anything less? Buy a used Escalade at the end of December and get the tax benefit before your first payment is due. The Transit Connect should sell well because it also qualifies.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Europeans don’t have McMansions on 1/2 acre lots.

    Valid point. When I did do landscaping work, it was light-duty work and soil and sod were delivered by the grower or contractor, not by us, and was dumped on the lot out of a medium-duty equipped with a hoist and dump bed. We never did work with intermediate loads like that.

    All I had to worry about was the wheelbarrow. And my spinal discs.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Europeans don’t have McMansions on 1/2 acre lots.

    Neither will Americans and Canadians any more in the near future.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Over the last decades out West and in many other parts of America, much work available to landscapers, electricians, plumbers and other such tradesmen have been new builds, often even new subdivisions. Lots of big stuff to haul compared to their colleagues in more settled communities. And often work requiring access before roads are done and driving surfaces put in. Sometimes even requiring hauling one’s own generators and compressors to get anything done. All this, and cheap gas, helped tilt the scale in favor of 4×4 heavier duty haulers, even though they may not make much sense for repairs and the occasional improvement of a few flats in London.

    If that facet of our recently deflated credit bubble does not come back for a few decades, smaller Eurostyle haulers may have a brighter future here as well, especially if gas plateaus much higher.

    As for diesels, they make more sense on the high fuel cost roundabout continent than here. 30-10-30-10-30…. driving ad infinitum rewards luggable, flexible engines, even if their 0-60 time is on the order of minutes. In stop sign and stoplight America, where 0-40-0-40… is more common, and gas prices allow for the inefficiencies of autos, the sprightlier top end of gas engines makes more sense. But at least the new (2008+ I believe) euro diesels don’t flat out stink anymore, the way they used to.

  • avatar

    BDB : Neither will Americans and Canadians any more in the near future.

    Seriously? What’s already built isn’t gonna be demolished because the credit market took a huge dump on North America.

    I learned my lesson, but you can expect more self-made McMansionaires to do just that: grab their own mulch to save a few bucks every spring. Or get their ignorant kids to do it. And until that loophole stuki mentioned closes, any business owner can have an Escalade EXT for every day use…and the occasional mulch trip with the family.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    Having helped to launch this back in the UK before coming to the US, I can testify that this is a great vehicle for any small business owner or even a larger fleet owner.
    Couple of things to point out.
    1. The locking bonnet (or hood if you will) is actually a security feature. This way, if someone breaks the glass and gets in to the vehicle, they cannot open the hood (or bonnet if you will) and hot wire the car and steal it. Fleets in the UK were very appreciative of the feature.
    2. Diesel and Manual – lets remember the core audience here shall we. Small business owners in and around cities. They don’t want manual transmissions at all so that was a no brainer. I will leave Justin’s excellent Diesel argument as it is – he is far more knowledgeable than I on the subject.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Seriously? What’s already built isn’t gonna be demolished because the credit market took a huge dump on North America.

    No, but they’ll turn into the new ghettos. And the new inhabitants aren’t really going to care about landscaping. They might need a truck for meth-making supplies, though. Don’t laugh, it is already happening in the fringe exurbs. Google “Magnolia Green” and “Virginia”.

    http://styleweekly.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=6F22F5F3EBEC4E698598EDB38230E889

    Middle class families of the future will move back into the smaller, 1950s/60s-style inner suburbs, close the city with 1/4 acre lots or less.

  • avatar

    jamie1 : but isn’t the ignition circuit (or a large part of it) in the passenger cabin? Are you sure a thief cannot hot wire it like any other car?

  • avatar

    BDB : No, but they’ll turn into the new ghettos. And the new inhabitants aren’t really going to care about landscaping. They might need a truck for meth-making supplies, though.

    While hilarious and kinda right, I’d venture that the McMansion won’t drop hard enough to be considered ghetto. Then again, I speak since Houston is doing fairly well these days…

  • avatar
    PaulieWalnut

    Using this as a family vehicle is not a good idea. It’s got a live rear axle. The Ford Toreno Connect, the Transit Connect’s passenger orientated cousin is generally used as a taxi for work crews here in Europe. I’ve never seen one used as a family vehicle.

    When i worked in landscaping in the States those HD trucks towed bobcats and operated as snowplows in the winter. So perhaps landscapers jumping into the little Ford anytime soon.

    The target market would in my mind be fleets, small business owners and tradesmen. This seems to be exactly who Ford are going for.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Çok güzel araba! Türk kızlar bana hatırlatıyor.

  • avatar
    zaitcev

    TC is godsent for makers of collapsible ladders.

  • avatar
    spyspeed

    I hope Ford finds an excuse to slam the EcoBoost V6 in this.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    guyincognito :

    Çok güzel araba! Türk kızlar bana hatırlatıyor.

    Istanbul not Constantinople, Istanbul not Constantinople.

  • avatar

    Justin Berkowitz

    You can’t go back to Constantinople, now it’s Istambul, not Constantinople.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You can’t go back to Constantinople, now it’s Istambul, not Constantinople.

    Is the girl still waiting for you?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @psarhjinian :

    That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    A passenger mini-van version of this thing could turn into the next surprise counter culture hit. A real descendant of the original microbus.

    “Using this as a family vehicle is not a good idea. It’s got a live rear axle.”

    Uh, all of the body on frame trucks and nearly all the traditional SUVs have live rear axles. So does a Mustang or a Crown Vic. Nearly 50% of the vehicles doing passenger duty in the US are equipped with live real axles. But that is neither here nor there. The Transit Connect is a front wheel drive vehicle derived from the Ford Focus platform. No live rear axle.

  • avatar
    92golf

    …the (optional) rear doors swing out 255° with the push of a button, and the mid section’s sliding doors open effortlessly.

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong but as far as I know the rear doors are standard but windows are optional.
    I understand you can buy a wagon version (seats two or three in the second row) with windows in both the rear side and rear doors. Unlike the Tourneo Connect it won’t be available with windows behind the sliding doors.
    The van doesn’t come with windows in either the side or rear doors but has options for both.
    I like it and hope it does well. It looks useful instead of merely decorative for a change.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    That hood release was a good idea on the original Euro Focus, and it is still a good idea. I won’t echo any more of the above comments on it, but it is a great idea.

    I think the Transit Connect will do well in the US, and do it cheaper than anything else.

    Good job Ford.

    Now, where is the diesel?

    @John Horner: It does have a BEAM axle, but but a live axle.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I read somewhere that these were prone to premature rusting. Anyone know if it’s true?

    Otherwise, seems like it could be a hit, maybe even like the original Chrysler minivan. It would be ironic since the guy who came up with the idea for the Chrysler minivan was Hal Sperlich. He pitched this exact idea to Henry Ford II (it was a minivan based on the Euro Fiesta platform) but Ford hated Sperlich (the only reason he tolerated him was because he was part of Iacocca’s network) and nixed the idea.

    When Iacocca left Ford and went to Chrysler, he brought Sperlich along and built his minivan. The rest is history.

  • avatar
    92golf

    @John Horner

    The Transit Connect does indeed have a beam axle. The front is based on the Focus but the rear is solid with leaf springs and a stabilizer bar.

  • avatar
    beken

    I think this car (truck?) would look pretty cool with bigger wheels, low profile tires, maybe a lowering kit and body kit. Custom paint job and let the tuners have a go at the engine and suspension.

    No rear seat? No problem, nothing a bit of carpet and a couch or bed can’t fix.

    I jest of course (or maybe not), but I see potential in this thing. I hope it does well.

  • avatar
    drifter

    Why is this better than Honda Element?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Why is this better than Honda Element?

    It’s much larger inside, has a lower load floor and isn’t as compromised by styling?

    I like the Element, but it’s really a squared-off CR-V with less passenger space and funny detailing. The Transit is the kind of work truck that this continent hasn’t seen since Toyota stopped selling the panel version of the Van.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Why is this better than Honda Element?

    Ha, that’s easy

    (1)Sliding doors instead of stupid suicide doors

    (2)An optional fifth seat

    (3)More carrying capacity (1600 pounds vs. 675 pounds)

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The Transit Connect does indeed have a beam axle.

    Twist or rigid beam?

    From what I can tell, there’s nothing really wrong with semi-independent rear suspension in a front-drive car, especially one that’s not intentionally sporty. The Fit has it and benefits from definite packaging advantages it allows. So do a number of respectably-capable front-drive cars and minivans.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Man, I just priced this thing, and it comes to well over $20,000. A Sienna is only a few (perhaps 5 or so with ‘magic’ rear seat) grand more, and with 2nd row seats removed just as spacious for occasional cargo. While not as maximally useful as a purpose built tradesman vehicle, I can’t think of many reasons not to prefer it as a general family, occasional Home Depot, hauler. And, knowing Toyota, I doubt the Sienna is the least expensive of US minivans.

    For some reason, the Focus roots of this thing made me think it would be priced more like an Xb.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Stuki–

    This doesn’t compete with the Sienna. The Flex competes with the Sienna. This is a cargo/fleet/quirky conversion van, not a family hauler.

  • avatar
    92golf

    @psarhjinian

    It is a solid beam axle. I have a pic I took at the Toronto Autoshow that clearly shows a solid beam axle with leaf springs.

  • avatar
    PaulieWalnut

    John Horner:

    I’ve ridden in the back of one. I cannot think for the life of me why someone would use it as a family vehicle.

    It rides well for a van but when you’re in the back seat, that rear end is only 3 or 4 feet away from your tuccus, bouncing up and down.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Semantics: A beam axle and a live axle are not the same thing. A live axle by definition carries motive power through it. The Crown Vic, Mustang and the vast majority of BOF trucks and SUVs use live rear axles.

    Beam axles only show up on front wheel drive vehicles, and in fact show up very often in that configuration. For example, the popular Dodge Caravan and Toyota Sienna both use beam rear axles. They do, however, use coil springs as opposed to the Transit Connect’s leaf springs. The Caravan rode on leaf springs for many years, and I think the switch to coil rear springs happened around 2008.

    I haven’t driven a Transit Connect, so I can’t comment on the ride as presently built, but I do know that completely acceptable passenger vehicles are often built with simple beam rear axles. Perhaps either softer leaf springs or a coil spring version would be required to make a passenger focused version ride appropriately.

    My point is that perhaps the current tuning of the Transit Connect isn’t great for passenger van duty, but that isn’t because of the basic architecture of the rear suspension. Chrysler created the modern minivan market segment on the backs of millions of leaf spring, beam axle rear suspensions.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Am I the only one disturbed by the amount of posters that seem to be gloating over the fact that Americans can’t/won’t be able to purchase “McMansions” anymore? Trust me, when it comes time to look for a place to settle down I’m going to get the biggest, most extravagant place I can get within my budget. Perhaps the McMansion hate is because most folks that buy them can’t really afford them? Other than that I see no shame in wanting one.

    As for the vehicle, I don’t think many Americans (myself included) are clamoring for a vehicle that makes them feel “cheeky and European”. I’ll proudly take an F-150 or one of those loathed (around here anyway) CUVs. I feel no shame there either.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Perhaps the McMansion hate is because most folks that buy them can’t really afford them?

    It isn’t “hate” it is just a fact, easy credit is gone and 99 cent/gallon gas is gone. Those are the two ingredients that gave rise to the McMansion in the ’90s. You had to have ridiculously easy credit for the financing, and cheap gas so you could commute 40 miles to work without blowing a hole in your budget. You can’t do either on $60,000/year anymore.

    People who are really, really wealthy can do that still, sure, but they were never the ones who lived in the McMansions to begin with. They lived in the real mansions in the older and more prestigious neighborhoods near the center cities (think Grosse Pointe, since this is a car site).

  • avatar
    stuki

    BDB, That makes good sense. All the talk of mountain bikes and wanting passenger accommodations had me thinking this, in addition to its purely utilitarian roles, could also serve as a much cheaper alternative for those who needed or wanted a traditional minivan’s space, but did not want to pay for all the fluff and bulk these have added over the years. But the price tag on the thing kind of put that notion to rest.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    “…a comparable Econoline is only two grand more…”

    Really? You can’t stand upright in an Econoline, so it isn’t really comparable AT ALL – especially for tradespeople who use their van as a mobile shop.

  • avatar
    th009

    @stuki, you are right that it’s not intended as a family vehicle.

    But as a work truck — have you ever priced out a Sprinter? The GM and Ford full-size vans are sized and priced in-between, but drive and feel like 35-year-old designs. And for a good reason.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    What’s with poor Sajeev having to review all the work-mobiles? Is a career change to Fed Ex driver imminent? :)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    drifter :
    July 30th, 2009 at 5:09 pm
    Why is this better than Honda Element?

    It doesn’t make people point their fingers and laugh at the poor schmuck driving it?

  • avatar
    Corky Boyd

    “provided they don’t carry more than 1600lbs or tow anything to bring home the bacon.”

    Would have sworn I saw one towing a camping trailer during an aerial shot at the Tour de France.

    This car will be the xB for grown-ups. It has cool. Ford did some super paint jobs for the small business version that are appearing in the online ads. Also one version has a neat installed computer system for finding tools using RFID tags.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Actually, the Transit Connect will fill the void left by Chrysler when they recently completely abandoned the SWB minivan market. There used to be a SWB Dodge Caravan panel delivery (I think it was called ‘Ram Van’ or something equally goofy) which would seem to have been designed for the exact same commercial market as the TC. Whomever bought those will almost assuredly be scarfing up Ford TCs as replacements.

  • avatar
    Garak

    I saw one towing a camping trailer during an aerial shot at the Tour de France.

    The Transit has a 1200kg (2650lb) tow rating, Euro trailers are easily lighter than that.

  • avatar
    stuki

    th009,

    I have never even seen a Sprinter in the US. I saw several in Europe, and those things are seriously big. The Transit is a much smaller class of vehicle, as it’s based off of a Focus, and has less volume behind front seats than a US minivan with third row folded down and 2nd removed.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Sajeev,
    Tha high roof creates a lot of space for the environmentals to deal with. How did the AC fare on a hot July day in Texas?

  • avatar
    th009

    @stuki,

    Sprinters do exist in the US, but sales are quite low, whether because it’s too big for the US market, whether the prices are too high, or whether the Dodge dealers don’t know how to sell it. It has about 5% of the full-size van market; Ford has about 50% and GM about 45%. Around here I’m seeing them used by courier companies and airport shuttle companies.

    Anyway, it’s certainly not a Transit Connect competitor — but it does start at around $40K. And compared to that, the Transit Connect is pretty appropriately priced.

    But there is a huge gap between these two, and it would be very interesting to see a modern European commercial van here, like the Transit (or Opel Vivaro or VW Transporter, but those are less likely).

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    “The target market would in my mind be fleets, small business owners and tradesmen.”

    Exactly, this is a working mans vehicle, competing with Citroen Berlingo,Fiat Fiorino,Nissan Kubistar,Peugeot Partner,Renault Kangoo, VW Caddy etc.
    If you want it to be a family hauler or a camper, you´ll be disappointed.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I have never even seen a Sprinter in the US.

    Really? Airport shuttles and UPS seem to be the big Sprinter buyers here. I agree that you don’t see them in private hands often, but they seem popular with larger fleets and are fairly common, as far as I can tell.

    I love the Sprinter. Had I the money, I’d buy a short-wheelbase/tall-roof combo for my own use.

  • avatar
    TRL

    We presently run a fleet of around 50 Econolines and Chevy Express vans. All E250 type.

    Yes, many of our guys need that weight capacity. We do HVAC service and those that carry welding euipment, refrigerant cylinders and that occasional 100HP motor or compressor could never use this. A few guys in fact really need to move up to E350′s (the Chevy’s just don’t hold up as well so they are now off the acceptable list.)

    At the other extreme are a few stationary guys that work at the same hospital or university every day. Their trucks are used for little more than daily commuting and the occasion trip to Grainger’s.

    We are however about to finally take a look at our one size fits all approach. With $2 gas maybe it didn’t make sense. All the trucks were identical so we could reassign with no thought (though we almost never do).

    I just instructed my guys that in the next order for 8 replacements we include a couple of these. As long as they don’t cost more than an E250 I am fine with the price. It really doesn’t have to cost less to buy as long as it is cheaper to operate.

    Not sure about the overall height, but it should fit into a lot of city parking garages and save a fortune in parking tickets.

    As for the comments about the key lock hood and rear doors that will not open with the engine running, I know our safety director will love both. In a company enviornment where the safety of employees is a huge driver these will both be seen as big plusses.

  • avatar
    NickR

    This could spell big trouble for the HHR panel truck.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    So,The American Ford Transit is only one model?

    How come the European version of Ford Transit has many models you can choose from or can be customize.

    for those who doesn’t like the FORD TRANSIT.
    Watch this video. A top female race car driver with a Ford Transit against race cars on the widow maker.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smUC3g2_jRI&feature=related

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I like this video… one of the fellows actually lives in a similar van.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aloZCNd_c4

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Couple of things –

    USA Today did today’s auto review on the TC. Overall Healey was impressed (but some of his reviews really make someone go Huh???), but he pointed out one bug that some were wondering about here.

    He mentioned that the rear seat is a main weakness of the TC. It doesn’t adjust for more leg room and it wasn’t that comfortable. It is an option though.

    The HHR Panel has now been discontinued, although I’m sure there’s a runway somewhere filled with them.

    I’ve seen a lot of Sprinters on the road, especially with package delivery services. I’m sure that has been a major surprise. I see the TC as the “real world” choice since it looks like it will navigate cities easier and get much better mileage.

    Overall, major praise towards Ford for taking a chance. I hope this opens the floodgates starting with the Fiesta and hopefully it will be as Euro as possible. I hope I get this name right, but hasn’t it been announced the Kuga is coming over? I need to dig that up.

  • avatar

    92golf :
    …the (optional) rear doors swing out 255° with the push of a button, and the mid section’s sliding doors open effortlessly.

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong but as far as I know the rear doors are standard but windows are optional.

    There’s an option for extra articulation in the doors, IIRC it is 180 degrees or 255.

    —————————
    psarhjinian : I like the Element, but it’s really a squared-off CR-V with less passenger space and funny detailing. The Transit is the kind of work truck that this continent hasn’t seen since Toyota stopped selling the panel version of the Van.

    That’s the thing. I know some people will want to make this into a regular, non fleet, type of vehicle, but I think that’s pretty wacky and insane. Granted it might be good for a family/entrepreneur, but anyone else is far better served in a REGULAR van. Or CUV.

    —————————
    John Horner : I haven’t driven a Transit Connect, so I can’t comment on the ride as presently built, but I do know that completely acceptable passenger vehicles are often built with simple beam rear axles. Perhaps either softer leaf springs or a coil spring version would be required to make a passenger focused version ride appropriately.

    With the extra weight, it actually rides better than most sporty-ish FWD econoboxes with a twist beam axle. And we all know there are plenty of FWD vehicles with non-independent rear suspensions.

    —————————
    eggsalad : “…a comparable Econoline is only two grand more…”

    Really? You can’t stand upright in an Econoline, so it isn’t really comparable AT ALL – especially for trades people who use their van as a mobile shop.

    Except they are worthy of comparison because trades people use a van (any van) to make money for a business. It’s not about one attribute, and I can’t sneeze without hitting a white Econoline panel van with some company logo on the side.

    —————————
    FreedMike : What’s with poor Sajeev having to review all the work-mobiles? Is a career change to Fed Ex driver imminent? :)

    I’m down for the mundane junk, don’t ask me why. Plus, I heard FedEx pays good money. I’m not gonna hate, skinny guy like me could use the exercise too.

    —————————
    Garak : The Transit has a 1200kg (2650lb) tow rating, Euro trailers are easily lighter than that.

    I don’t think the US version is rated to tow anything. According to the dealer, and they are usually right about “fleet” stuff like that.

    —————————
    cleek : Sajeev, that high roof creates a lot of space for the environmentals to deal with. How did the AC fare on a hot July day in Texas?

    It cooled down the front area just fine, in less than 10 minutes of baking in 99+ degree weather and high humidity (Houston). The cargo area was somewhat cool also. Credit the white paint for some of that, of course.

    You know: it’d make a fine ice cream van, but it can’t play American ice cream truck music…maybe something with a little more Techno. Sweet.

    ————————–
    psarhjinian : Really? Airport shuttles and UPS seem to be the big Sprinter buyers here. I agree that you don’t see them in private hands often, but they seem popular with larger fleets and are fairly common, as far as I can tell.

    I’ve only seen them with UPS in large numbers. And they have a strategic agreement with DaimlerChrysler (or whoever that is now) to keep their parts shelves perfectly stocked. Heavy, heavy manufacturer support far above the dealership level: and regular Sprinter buyers are not so lucky.

    —————————
    TRL : As for the comments about the key lock hood and rear doors that will not open with the engine running, I know our safety director will love both. In a company enviornment where the safety of employees is a huge driver these will both be seen as big plusses.

    Smart thinking. Though I’d hate to work for a branch of your company, if you have one in Houston. Turning off the A/C just to grab a box from the rear would drive me nuts. Then again, not if I reviewed this vehicle in January.

    —————————
    NickR : This could spell big trouble for the HHR panel truck.

    Can you say dead model walking? That thing was a joke to start, and now Ford has a gun to its head.

    —————————
    BEAT : How come the European version of Ford Transit has many models you can choose from or can be customize.

    The same reason any European, Australian, or pure Japanese car (sans Scion xB) has a hard time turning a profit in America.

  • avatar
    cleek

    I wonder how many of these are already en route to Elk Heart, Indiana for some customizing?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Best part about this? You will never be pigeonholed as being a redneck!!

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @PeregrineFalcon :
    A vehicle where “Diesel and a stick-shift” should be more than just an internet meme.

    Oh, look, Europe gets a diesel option.

    Europe doesn’t get a gasser option. Only the diesel. No slushbox either. A van with a slushbox is something you’ll find only in ambulance service in Europe.

    @beken :
    I think this car (truck?) would look pretty cool with bigger wheels, low profile tires, maybe a lowering kit and body kit. Custom paint job and let the tuners have a go at the engine and suspension.

    Ford already had the same idea, 5 years ago.
    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/carreviews/firstdrives/45035/ford_transit_connect_xpress.html

  • avatar
    George B

    # BDB :
    July 30th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Seriously? What’s already built isn’t gonna be demolished because the credit market took a huge dump on North America.

    No, but they’ll turn into the new ghettos.

    Middle class families of the future will move back into the smaller, 1950s/60s-style inner suburbs, close the city with 1/4 acre lots or less.

    I live in a smaller home with a 7 mile commute in a inner Dallas suburb and even I don’t think there’s going to be a surge of families moving closer in. The childless yes, but not families. People with kids move out to where the homes are big and the schools are excellent. Americans with both children and money to buy up to a better neighborhood will do so to give their kids every advantage/protection possible.

    Regarding the Ford Transit, I like it. Right choice to use Focus drivetrain. I see Honda Elements used for light duty commercial work, but the Transit seems more authentic in a Dickies work clothes way.

  • avatar
    big block raj

    This is reply to the questions about the importing the passenger version of the transit connect to the U.S

    Only the passenger version of the van is imported [to avoid the chicken tax] and and seats are stripped and recyled by ford and the van is converted to cargo.

    The transit passenger version is high on the list for the next nyc taxi.

  • avatar
    archangel

    We have had it a year and what I like so far is

    1: HEAD ROOM, LOTS OF IT!

    2: The mileage is acceptable for a delivery van.

    3: It’s wide enough to fit a full sized pallet.

    4: Sliding doors on both sides.

    5: The rear doors fold back all the way.

    6: Short enough (height) to clear a standard garage door.

    7: Short enough (length) to fit in a standard garage.

    What I don’t like is

    1: No Diesel option.

    2: Weak rear sway bar so inner front wheel lifts up around fast corners losing traction and all acceleration.

    3: No extended cargo version. This one can only carry 1 pallet and 2 pallets would be a nice option.

    4: Wipers skip badly (LOUD) and throw water up the windshield, then it dribbles right back down between wiper swipes.

    5: Doors have rounded edges where you might rest your arm if it did not slide right off the rounded edge.

    6: Only 1 fold down arm rest on the right side of the drivers seat, not both sides, and none on the passenger seat.

    7: Floor under cargo mat is horribly uneven with deep groves. I plan on installing a sheet of plywood soon!

    8: Ford tells us no towing or it will void the warranty, but the body has the mounting points, they sell the hitch, and over the pond (Europe) they tow everything everywhere with it!


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