By on February 29, 2016

Ford Transit Connect XLT Exterior, Image: © Nicholas Naylor

(Everybody say “Hi!” to Nick, who is here to share his tale of Transit Connect ownership with the B&B! — JB)

Last year, when my wife and I were first looking at minivans, I went by the Ford dealer to check out the new Transit Connect. The van really appealed to me, with its emphasis on utility, its quirky charm, and the Euro pedigree. My wife, our designated minivan driver, wouldn’t give it the slightest consideration. She deemed it more suitable for a mobile pet cremation business than for Mommy duty. We wound up with a Nissan Quest, which I wrote about here and with which we have been very happy.

Last year I started a surfboard business. This meant that I was borrowing the Quest for long stretches at a time. It also meant that it was finally time for me to consider getting something appropriately capacious for myself, giving me a perfect excuse to add a Transit Connect to our fleet.

Ford Transit Connect XLT Interior, Image: © Nicholas Naylor

I started by looking for a one-year old, certified pre-owned model. My local dealer assured me they were “rarer then hen’s teeth” and then suggested I consider a new F-150, of which he had plenty in stock. As always, the Internet came to the rescue and I found a 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon LWB XLT (referred to henceforth as “FTC”) 1,500 miles away with less than 30,000 miles for the affordable price of $17,500.

It had a been a courtesy van for the dealer, and they were willing to ship it to me. The equipment list was long: leather, SYNC, rearview camera and warning system, three rows of seats, Bluetooth streaming audio, and a warranty. That’s a lot of car for just over seventeen grand. Done deal.

The FTC does nothing to hide its European roots. My window sticker says the van was assembled in Valencia, Spain, and nearly everything I’ve read about the van indicates that such is the case. Strangely enough, however, the VIN starts with an “N” indicating Turkish assembly. Although all of the previous-generation FTCs were assembled in Turkey, U.S.-bound current-gen vans should all be Valencia-born. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe this has something to do with Ford’s chicken-tax avoidance scheme, but maybe they just had a few million leftover stamped VIN plates to recycle. Regardless, the van is a true “One Ford” product, giving it a few unique characteristics that help it stand out on this side of the pond.

For starters, space efficiency is fantastic. Seven passengers can fit, and everyone can wear a stovepipe hat if they want to. The windshield is massive; in fact, visibility all around is much better than most modern vehicles. It is as if you are piloting a fishbowl, one in which you can confidently place the wheels and are assured of all the corners. It’s hard to think of another vehicle that is as practical. Huge passenger space (or lockable storage), inexpensive to buy and operate, good on gas … the Transit Connect has got to be one of the most overall utilitarian vehicles available.

Being it’s so Euro comes with some quirky downsides. The FTC has minimal wind and road noise insulation. There is a ton of space, but few of the storage compartments so typical on U.S.-market vans. Two cupholders up front, a small center console, a standard glove box and door pockets on each side: that sums up the useful storage space. Out back there is basically nothing, just a flat load floor. The lack of under-floor storage or floor contours ensures that any boxes or bags of groceries will flop around with each turn you make.

There is a very large shelf above the driver’s head, which seems great at first. I’ve found that I don’t put much up there, however, because whatever you do put up there has to fit a narrow profile, be lightweight, and also be retrievable without looking, even as you’re shoving your arm all the way in there if said item slides to the front. It’s hard to understand what that shelf really is good for.

Small indents for change and parking passes in the console secure none of these items well. On the plus side, there is a massive recess in the passenger side of the dashboard top (for ladling soup out of?), and strangest of all, a small, shallow (2 inches maybe) bin underneath the passenger seat with a latched cover that should make this the preferred vehicle for trips to and from Ciudad Juarez.

Ford Transit Connect XLT Interior, Image: © Nicholas Naylor

Quirkiest of all (and a veritable nightmare for Mr. Mehta’s aesthetic senses), this is the only vehicle I have ever seen with a reverse inside-looking-out black plastic triangle, and on the bottom rear corner of the front driver and passenger windows, of all places. I guess it’s for wind buffeting? This will easily be punched out by an unintentional meathead elbow any day now.

Finally, on the negative side, it must be said: who thinks a Spanish (or Turkish?)-built, low-volume Ford is going to be a paragon of reliability? There is already some rust-spotting on the roof.

Ford Transit Connect XLT Rust, Image: © Nicholas Naylor

If you can live with the risks and the quirks, however, the FTC has the driving basics down pat, thanks to its Focus origins. The steering is responsive, light in slow speeds, yet gradually building load as the pace increases. The six-speed automatic is one of the better modern self-shifters I have driven, keeping the engine in its power band and not too eager to change up a gear.

Combined with visibility and relatively tight handling, it’s easy to hustle this van. I find myself speeding damn near all the time. Good thing the cops ignore me, obviously thinking I’m just late for an alpaca cremation. Comparatively, piloting the Nissan Quest in our family stable is like driving a bowl of pudding. It makes you want to just tuck into the La-Z-Boy thrones, drone the CVT as low as it can go, pilot with a single finger, and plod your way to your destination.

Do not, however, confuse my wanting to hustle the FTC with it actually accelerating fast. Rather, the 2.5-liter Duratec non-turbo four delivers the power of 169 asthmatic donkeys. I don’t know what the 0-60 is (my arse-meter guesses 10 seconds), but I can tell you that when I punched it one time to pass a car, as the engine bleated loudly and the van’s speed increased incrementally, the conversation went like this:

Wife: “Is this a 4 cylinder?”

Me: “Yes.”

Wife: “… I thought so.”

Of course, there’s an upside: an EPA rating of 20/28. I happily average on the high side of that, seeing 25 mpg around town and 29 mpg on a recent 120-mile highway jaunt at 65-75 mph.

This is an unusual vehicle choice for non-commercial duty. Yes, I use it for business, but 90 percent of the time I use it for commuting and as a regular minivan for the family, duties it performs extremely well in its minimalist manner. Interestingly, I think it may have a bit of a cult following. My son’s friend told him that my van looks like “a storm trooper van,” which immediately made it cool with the pre-school boys. (Presumably, and based on the cover photo, that’s “stormtrooper” as in Star Wars, not as in Sturmabteilung. — JB)

I have had a few compliments. All of them from men, none from the women. When my wife rides in the van, there’s an amusing sense of resignation about her, as if she always thought by now I would (and should) be driving something way more aspirational. But no, this smiling dork is hustling his weird Euro van down the road at above average speeds. So sorry to disappoint!

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127 Comments on “Reader Review: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon XLT...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    “The FTC does nothing to hide its European roots. My window sticker says the van was assembled in Valencia, Spain, and nearly everything I’ve read about the van indicates that such is the case. Strangely enough, however, the VIN starts with an “N” indicating Turkish assembly. Although all of the previous-generation FTCs were assembled in Turkey, U.S.-bound current-gen vans should all be Valencia-born. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe this has something to do with Ford’s chicken-tax avoidance scheme, but maybe they just had a few million leftover stamped VIN plates to recycle.”

    Europe allows the manufacturer to use the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI, the first three characters of the VIN) of the corporate HQ in lieu of the actual assembly location. AFAIK Ford Otosan was in charge of the development of the Transits so they kept the “NM0” identifier even after production moved from Kocaeli to Valencia.

    And the “chicken tax” applies to imported trucks regardless of where they come from. Ford gets around it with the TC by building them all as passenger wagons, and at port removes the rear seats and windows from ones destined to be cargo vans.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Author here; thanks for clarifying. I figured someone from the B&B would know the real answer

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      I have been wondering about this lately. The Q3 I believe is only assembled in Spain at the SEAT factory but it has a W vin. The Q7 is assembled in Bratislava for the US but it has W vin. Then the TT has a T vin for assembly in Hungary?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      JimZ – Ford got busted for that one. How do they get around it now? They may have a trade agreement with Spain.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Busted” for what? It’s legal, it just has to be done at port of entry. How do you think FCA gets the Promaster City imported here? Same way.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @JimZ – unless ruling was overturned.

          “The Blue Oval got into trouble for this in a January ruling in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials asked Ford to stop the practice of importing the Transit Connect vehicles with passenger seats, then removing and shredding them. Now Automotive News reports that Ford is appealing the ruling.”
          http://blog.caranddriver.com/feds-watching-fords-run-around-on-chicken-tax-riles-customs-officials/

          http://www.autoblog.com/2013/09/23/ford-in-trouble-with-us-customs-chicken-tax/

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            it’ll be interesting to see if they turn the same attention to FCA, then. since AFAIK they do the same thing with the ProMaster City.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Can you get the groceries in it with all three rows in place?

    The roof rust is troubling and leaves me wondering how the paint got a little scratched or stone chipped in the first place.

    There’s still that dorky part of me who wants to get one of these painted “SOLAR” and slap a personalized plate on it that says “MGICBUS”.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That rust would bother me every damn day. I think I’d have to have it fixed and repainted. It’s not even two years old – what is this 1977?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Give it a coating of white Rhino Liner and never worry about scratching your roof while loading again!

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        1977 – the year of our family E150 van 300CID IL6, 3speed column shifting manual, seating for 8 -$5200 out the door. The roof was rust colored after 5 years so I repainted it. The body and floor rusted from an ill fitting windshield (opening was not square) that always leaked no matter how I tried to seal it. Did last 18 years and 250K one owner miles before I took it to the scrap yard.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Are you 9′ tall? How would you ever see it? I have failed clearcoat on the roof of my Rover, but the only time I see it is when I look out a second story window.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          the problem is that rust spreads. There’s a reason some people refer to rust as “cancer.” Rust is hydrated iron oxide, and the hydration makes corroding iron/steel expand and flake off. Which exposes more metal to corrosives.

          it’s interesting that metals like aluminum are *way* more chemically reactive than iron, but they undergo passivation; aluminum instantly forms a layer of aluminum oxide on its surface which effectively seals the metal from further oxidation.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Doesn’t matter if I can see it daily – I know it’s there. Same reason I know the location of all dents on any car I own. I don’t see them every day, but they come to mind when I look at the car.

      • 0 avatar
        JimInRadfordVA

        Just like ’77, if you didn’t check the “Delete Rust” box, it came with corrosion as a standard feature.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Ford gets a total free pass on TTAC as so many past and current TTAC staff members suck Ford’s a$$, despite Ford having poor fit/finish/assembly and reliability/durability.

      To add insult to injury, Ford dealerships & Ford corporate have a horrible track record of dealing with the many, serious issues, complaints and defects that Ford vehicle buyers have suffered for many decades.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @DeadWeight, well at least the ignition switch (AKA:key) on my 49 year old Ford still works just fine. #GM

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          I guess you have me beat. The ignition switch on my 59 year old chevy gave up the ghost this weekend, seriously. I guess I have a crappy car.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            It’s DW, I’m being a wise-arse. But hopefully you all knew that. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            @Dan, you think we should pass the hat to pay for some rage-managment classes for our “special” friend?

            Does anyone have any Risperdal laying around? I couldnt imagine being forced to deal with such an obviously disturbed individual. I mean, if the subject of a Ford utility van brings about this sort of rage, imagine the hell those around him must go through on a daily basis. “The mail is 15 minutes late! Time to throw my mail box through the post office window! What? Road construction? Where is my AK…”

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @DeadWeight – donno, I saw some pictures on this site of a Ford with poor fit and finish.

        I do find it interesting that you don’t lump FCA in with Ford or GM. FCA has the worst 3rd party documented quality and durability ratings.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Ronnie did a great job documenting Lincoln MKZs with sunroofs with ridiculously defective fit/finish in photos.

          Also, Tres spoke to many Ford QC issues, and Derek openly spoke to the sad state of the fit & finish of several Ford/Lincoln products he tested when he was EIC.

          By the way, the aluminum body panel Ford F150s I see by the dozens daily in the metro Detroit area are hilariously wavy (as in the body has many waves in it when viewed in daylight), and Ford did terribly on CR’s just released long-term reliability survey (the Fiesta was one of the least reliable vehicles tested out of all).

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            DeadWeight – Chevy pickups had wavy panels for years. I have not noticed it on the new F150’s or new Chevy’s.

            Still – FCA is much worse on multiple levels.

            Each time I buy I look at various sources for durability data. Anyone asking me for advice gets told to look their first.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            p.s. – Mark Stevenson also did a pretty good summation regarding the ridiculously poor panel fit of a “mystery vehicle,” which turned out to be a new Ford Explorer, recently, too.

            I had forgotten to mention that in my earlier comment and would be remiss not to mention it now.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            DW-

            Ford hasn’t done a great job on QC on some of the recent launches. Not all have been terrible though. The best news is that the current products that are in the pipeline have had minimal issues. The Super Duty launch should be amazingly smooth.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            bball, you’re very pro-Ford, too, as judged by your comments.

            That’s fine, as there may be many personal reasons for your biases, but neither you or anyone else should be claiming Ford is anywhere but near the bottom rung in terms of long-term reliability & dependability.

            Consumer Reports, which really does have the best data set (over 1.6 million owner surveys ANNUALLY on an ongoing, long-term basis) and methodology (from a statistical sampling standpoint), place Ford vehicles overall near the bottom out of all automakers (literally just above Jaguar).

            Ford vehicle quality and reliability sucks. Period.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @DW

            Get over yourself. Today the difference between worst to first on these stupid surveys can be down to whether you could easily pair your phone or not. It’s Lake Woebegone days in the auto world, everybody is above average compared to 20-30 years ago. If the car in last place appeals to me more than the one in first place, guess which one I am going to buy, surveys be damned?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “If the car in last place appeals to me more than the one in first place, guess which one I am going to buy, surveys be damned?”

            That’s why you own a Land Rover product.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            If my way more than reliable enough Range Rover is as bad as it gets, then we all have it pretty damned good.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      With all three rows up, there isn’t much space behind the last row. So…no. The third row is a split-fold and it’s two seats not three so you can just put one up if needed. Also, re: the rust…the roof rack is aftermarket, so I wonder if that could possibly have something to do with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Is that really rust of what they like to refer to as “surface contamination” ?

      Even GM and Toyota uses that term. Lighter colours are more prone to it.

      I’m not condoning “rust” just pointing out how the manufacturers like to refer to it.

      • 0 avatar
        TCragg

        What we are looking at here is “rail dust”, caused by environmental fallout from things like rail yards and industrial facilities. The tiny iron particles embed themselves in the clearcoat and require a special cleaner to remove. As the owner of many white vehicles over the years, I would recommend Iron X. I have used it before and it does a good job in removing the surface contamination from the paint.

        • 0 avatar
          Blue-S

          A clay bar kit is very good at removing metal fallout particles and other paint surface contamination. You still need to remove the rust stain with a suitable cleaner afterward, but the clay pulls the metal off of the paint.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on the rust. A 2-year-old vehicle shouldn’t be showing any rust.

      Makes me wonder if this van has an undocumented history (bad childhood).

  • avatar
    seth1065

    A funky little van that suits your needs, glad you like it, but the pre rust in a 1 year old car, I thought we were past this Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      That’s Econoline rust!
      I’m always amazed how bad the paint is on old-school white GM and Ford vans. Even brand-new ones look like 10-year-old cars.

      Ford supposedly totally renewed the paint line when they moved from Econolines to full-sized Transits.

      Maybe the old paint line was shipped to Spain.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Well, the Transit is built in the renovated Kansas City plant, along side the F-150. The E-Series was (and still is, in some fashion) built in Avon Lake, Ohio. Eventually, the Ohio plant will only build the F-650 and F-750 medium duty trucks, which were previously built in Mexico.

        I suspect that the issue has something to do with the roof rack. I dont see how any painted surface would rust so quickly without being damaged somehow.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Look closely at the picture again. There is rust on the seam sealer which is not metal. That is from the hot metal chips made when drilling the holes that stuck to the paint. The staining around the spots also points to this as the cause. In can be removed to reveal the paint underneath though that paint has been damaged and will likely be the failure point at a later date.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          The paint line at KCAP is as you said completely new, the robot that paints the inside of the LWB “tall” Transits is amazing.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Toyota still hasn’t cracked the code on the vaunted quality of the Ford Taurus and its 4 and 6 cylinder engines, nor its impeccable, flawless assembly, interior materials, paint quality, reliability, etc.

          In fact, Toyota is still benchmarking the Tempo even to this day.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Set for stun!

    TK Transit

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    You didn’t name the van TR-8R?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Amazing glass space in that thing. Decent mileage too for how hard that 2.5 Duratec must have to work. Your lead photo of the van with your mini-Stormtrooper is awesome.

    “My local dealer assured me they were “rarer then hen’s teeth” and then suggested I consider a new F-150, of which he had plenty in stock”

    I laughed at this. If you didn’t know where Ford made their money beforehand, you would have at that moment. You’re probably lucky he didn’t roll his eyes and groan in self-pity when you told him what you were really looking for.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The local monthly free community magazine has an automotive column. I was shocked when they reviewed a Transit Connect wagon given that most Ford Dealers would rather pretend that these don’t exist from a profit standpoint. I just went to the Ford website and optioned up an XLT long wheelbase and the price was very attractive.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Maybe these will become a new lifestyle vehicle for the trendy western mountain ski towns! Some glossy snoot rag that covers lifestyle junk for places like Sun Valley and Jackson Hole had an article on vans converted by their owners into outdoor adventure RVs. For the common man with the free time and financial resources to buy one of these things and drift about free soloing every cliff face west of the Divide. Diesel Econolines seem to be the holy grail there, though, so a Euro Ford may not cut it.

        Although, minivan owners now orphaned by Mazda might find something to like with this Transit, especially if they miss the combination of pokey acceleration and agility. I think its even the same engine, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Ha! I tried asking about a new Aspire in 1997 (I was in highschool and *thought* my parents might buy me a car if it was cheap enough, and given their aversion to used cars, I was thinking new).

      “We have some Escorts, theyre only $X more. We also have used…”

      I wanted a 3 door hatch, which was gone from the Escort line in 1997, and I wanted the lowest possible MSRP.

      And yes, I still like the Aspire. Id like to throw an Escort GT (91-6, the Mazda 1.8L) drivetrain into one. It is possible, if the firewall is slightly modified to clear the intake manifold. Id like to find an earlier SE model with the spoiler and blue-faced tach cluster. A set of 91-6 Escort LX alloys would look snazzy, too.

      GM used to (still does?) force its dealers to take unwanted, slow selling and low-profit cars in order to get more Tahoes and Z71 pickups that actually *do* make everyone money. Thats why every Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealer had a few Aztecs. Because to get more Sierras… well, its not like they wanted some hidious thing that was superglued to the lot.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Our local Pontiac Buick GMC dealer had to take some Pontiac G3s to get the cars they wanted. I know the family that owns it and I had to hear them gripe incessantly about having to take any G3s on a transporter to get GM to put some G6s on there as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        John, John, John. If you want DeadWeight, or any other B&B member, to take your opinions seriously, professing affection for the Ford Aspire is totally counterproductive and probably a terminal blunder. I’m very sorry.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          I dont care if that pshychpath takes me serious, its not a consideration of mine in the slightest. He’s a very angry person, and he really needs meds.

          As for the rest of you, I do care to a certain extent, but in the end, I am not ashamed of my opinions for un-loved cars. Im a package deal, you get the insight and creative ideas along with my admiration for certain cars few people care about (especially amongst the B&B). That should be obvious by my screen name, although Im not the only 2nd gen Taurus driver here who is happy with his car.

          Furthermore, Im also not the only one who has had the idea to make a hot hatch out of an Aspire. The info I gathered on the 1.8L swap was just a quick Google search away. Others have done it, along with other Mazda drivetrain swaps, including turbos. By comparison, the Escort GT swap is fairly mundane. Even the stock 110 hp it made would be plenty of fun in the lighter car, along with decent reliability and MPG. Obviously the stock suspension would need modification to have the whole package, but Ive owned a Festiva and have driven the Aspire. They were pretty decent, surprisingly enough. Of course, I didnt drive the automatic version, Im sure its awful, but what sub-100 hp car with a 3 speed slush box isnt?

          I guess you have to put the car in prespective. It was cheap, first and formost. But, it was above the Metros Ive driven (by a pretty wide margin) and for what it was, I liked it.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Rust spots on the roof – are you placing the surfboards on those racks while still wet with salty water? Just a thought. Difficult to fathom that a car in this day and age would show rust so early.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Ah, yes, a surfboard business. A man after my own heart since I was born in Huntington Beach, CA, and grew up surfing on Gordon-Smith and Hobie.

      You dry the boards by placing them upright, but even when put into or on top of my vehicle, they never caused rust. Not any more than living near the beach did on its own.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Aftermarket roofrack & install might have something to do with compromising the paint. Drilling into the roof might have sent some metal shards into the paint–at least that’s my theory, and if so, it still is some thin and cheap paint.

      Boards go on the roof wet sometimes, but that’s not likely the factor as much as the fact that I live 200 yards from the ocean so there’s a permanent saltiness in the air

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes it was caused by the drilling for the rack. There is rust on the seam sealer, which is not metal and therefore can not rust. The person who drilled the holes did not protect the surrounding area which let the hot metal chips stick themselves to the paint and now they are what is rusting. It can be fixed if you do it now.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    Perhaps you should tell your that the Nissan Quest is one of the least safe vehicles on the road today – it is a death trap.
    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/minivans-with-a-major-flaw-3-models-have-dire-small-overlap-results

  • avatar
    NoID

    If FCA would build and sell a seven passenger version of the ProMaster City here in the US of A, I would purchase one post haste. Of course first I’d have to conveniently wrap my Mazda5 around a telephone pole to take advantage of my loan’s gap coverage, but hey, anything to park closer to the Tech Center and show Sergio that I care.

    I’d miss the Zoom Zoom, but I don’t get much chance to enjoy it anyways. That, and the Zoom Zoom that so used to satisfy me in my tinivan is now overshadowed by my work vehicles, so that would help numb the pain somewhat.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Those rust spots make me think of raildust from the shipping process…

    http://www.carwash.com/rail-dust-and-its-removal/

    • 0 avatar
      Silverbird

      Agree 100%, I logged in to say the same.

      Looks more like iron contaminates on the outside of the paint that have been getting the sea spray on them.

      Especially as the worst part is inside the rail, that is probably not visible to the lot jockey that washed this while the dealership owned it.

      A few hours with a claybar will get that back to sparkling white.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Nice link, I didn’t know this was even a thing.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I can’t help but think how much better the Transit would look if it only had moar grilles. Like four more.

    #cmax
    #jk

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Well, at least it has something resembling a bumper in that mess. If my Mazda5 dies anytime soon, I would consider getting one of these, but it would have to be in black to hide the front end.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        “but it would have to be in black to hide the front end.”

        And you would have one hot van in August – I wonder if the A/C could keep up.

        Alternative Plan: Paint the grilles a lighter color.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    “there’s an amusing sense of resignation about her, as if she always thought by now I would (and should) be driving something way more aspirational. ”

    See, you should have bought something manly like a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “there’s an amusing sense of resignation about her, as if she always thought by now I would (and should) be driving something way more aspirational. ”

      That sounds like Jack’s editing ;)

      This looks about as “manly” as a CUV.

      LOL

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Your VIN country-of-origin discrepancy is interesting. I noticed something similar when I was looking at Volkswagen Touaregs. All Touaregs are, to my knowledge, completely assembled in Bratislava (which should be country code U), Slovakia; however, Touaregs all have VINs that begin with W, indicating Germany. I know the Cayennes are mostly built in the same plant, then shipped to Germany for final assembly. Likewise, the new Bentayga units will be constructed mostly in the Bratislava plant, then shipped to Bentley’s facility in Crewe, England for coachwork and special Bentley stuff. Maybe they do that with the Touareg, too, which is how they’re able to use the W VIN character.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      @Kyree

      see my first reply above. Europe allows companies to use a World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) based on the corporate HQ location instead of the location of the assembly plant so long as both are in the same region. If the assembly plant is outside of Europe they have to use the location of the final assembly plant.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I see. That makes perfect sense! So the Touareg can use W because it’s in the same region as the Wolfsburg headquarters, whereas the cars built in Mexico (like mine) have to stick with 3, because Mexico is not in Europe, like headquarters.

        Bet you they’ll use S on the Bentayga, to play up the “Made in England” thing.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    This is what I was interested in since I saw them first emerge. Now that I have a large trike and I’m looking at replacing my xB I’m considering one just because I like to ride my bike around different places and transporting it is a hellish nightmare.

    The whole assembly looks nice and definitely would comfortably swallow my trike with room to spare. It’s just how slow that engine is what worries me. I wonder if the ecoboost has any more power to get out of it’s own way?

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    The FTCs through the 2013MY were assembled in Turkey; the vehicles sold in North America beginning with the 2014MY have been assembled in Spain. Some great deals are available on these; a co-worker recently bought a brand-new 2014 TC @ 0% for 60 months AND a $2000 rebate. There are still some new 2014s sitting around on dealer lots.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    “…who thinks a Spanish (or Turkish?)-built, low-volume Ford is going to be a paragon of reliability? There is already some rust-spotting on the roof.”

    Since when do a few tiny specls of roof rust have ANYTHING to do with reliability? Do those rust specks render the vehicle un-driveable?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It’s not too much of a stretch for the average reader to come to the conclusion that rust on a year-old vehicle can be indicative (though is not by any mean a guarantee) of more problems down the road.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    We bought one of these new (2015 model), XLT trim as well, last Fourth of July. The cost was very reasonable, especially after our Costco discount. It still has less than 6000 miles on it.

    We’ve had no paint issues with it (no roof rack), the only cosmetic thing that needs looking at is that one side corner of the front fascia/bumper piece is starting to pop out a little from underneath the headlight cluster. No mechanical problems.

    The main reason we bought one is that it seemed the best vehicle for transporting my aged parents around (medical appointments and some shopping). They can’t drive and my dad has Alzheimer’s, and they both have limited mobility. What we found is that the seat/ride height is good for them–they can get in without climbing up into higher seats as with many other vehicles, and the high doors mean that they don’t have to bend down to get situated. We can strap the compact folding wheelchair easily behind the rear seats as well.

    Space is tight behind the third row, but those seats are separately foldable AND moveable fore and aft, so you can play with them to get more room back there. We often leave them folded down flat to give a large cargo space. The one thing we do need is a cargo net to help keep stuff from falling out the back door when we open it. We hauled quite a bit of stuff in it during a summer trip between the DC area and coastal Maine, with no problems. Being a cargo van in origin, it seems very sturdy on less than ideal roads.

    Criticisms of the 2.5 Duratec are valid, but with that well-matched automatic it gets around adequately. (BTW the Ecobost is not an option on the LWB vans–only on the shorter ones). It also has a rocker switch on the gear lever for manual shifting Our mileage isn’t as good (lower to mid-20s) but it really isn’t broken in yet. What we really like about it is the smaller road footprint vs. a Quest, or an Odyssey/Sienna–it’s noticeably shorter and narrower and that makes driving in town fairly painless. I also appreciate the driving qualities, in its handling it does seem more Euro-van in nature than a US-style family floater/hauler.

    And of course, we don’t see ourselves on the road every day, at least in “civilian” mode. But there are more of them as time goes by, so I guess the word is getting out about them.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      I salute you for taking good care of your aging parents.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        ^Second that, big time.
        I happen to be in the situation where my parents hate certain aspects of my life (my upcoming marriage for one, they want me to marry, just want the person I marry to be the opposite sex), but in the end, it doesnt matter. I will take care of them for as long as they live.

        I wont run off like my brother did. They both had cancer a few years back (both in remission now, thank God), and his decision was to move 2500 miles away, and stop talking to them for a year when they couldnt (not wouldnt, *couldnt*) loan him money, despite the fact that he and his wife draw far more every month than my parents do. His wife hacked into my mom’s email, sent nasty emails to her friends, stole her information, deleted personal emails she had kept, etc. WTF? Thats how you treat the people who have given you thousands of dollars in assistance for your entire married life thus far?

        I drove them to treatments, I was there for dad’s surgery despite being in severe pain myself, I took care of things they couldnt, it wasnt a question in my mind. Not doing it was not an option.

        They can hate my life all they want, but Ill still be there as long as they’ll let me. Their words have hurt me deeply (especially recently since Ive finally met someone), but that does not dismiss the fact that they brought me into this world and gave me the best life they could. That is far and above their disaproval of my relationship or decisions.

        I never could understand when my friends would cuss their parents, wish for them to “just die already” and crap like that. It made no sense to me. And these were the ones who’s parents bought them a nice vehicle to drive to school, whereas mine didnt (and it wasnt because mine couldnt afford it). These friends were not required to get a job, they had spending money handed to them. They didnt pay insurance, they didnt pay their parents back for the cost of the vehicle, nothing- yet they acted as though they hated their parents. This wasnt just a “one time, in anger” thing, it was anytime they butted heads or disagreed.

        Its beyond me to hate, or ignore/write off, the very two people who gave me life and a life. I may get angry or hurt, but it doesnt change who they are to me.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My Mom has a Prius-V for the exact same reason, she has been the full-time caretaker of my grandparents for a number of years now. They just had too much trouble climbing up into her previous VW Routan, and Mom found it just too big to maneuver and park in cramped Portland, Maine. The Prius was just right – low, but high kitchen chair-like seats, big doors with square openings that do not require much bending to get in the back. The 45mpg is a nice bonus.

      Sadly my Grandfather passed away last month, just a few weeks shy of his 92nd birthday. He was effectively my father, and I miss him every day. My Grandmother is likely not too long for this mortal coil either. Mom is making noises about wanting something more fun at that point – can’t say I blame her.

      @JohnTaurus

      You are a saint. I am not so sure I could be as big-hearted had my family not accepted me for who I am without reservation. Admirable of you.

  • avatar

    I really like these. I had one as a Zipcar when I had to make an Ikea run when putting together a nursery for our twins. It swallowed up everything with ease and was really easy to maneuver and I loved the visibility. We now have a pilot for most family duty, but I have been wondering if I should get something a bit more practical as well( I own a 2012 TL). TSX wagon makes it hard to fit car seats behind me (6’4″). The other option is a Legacy. I’ve thought about a Transit connect, but really wish it came with the Ecoboost 2.0.

  • avatar
    LJD

    I’ve got a Mazda5 and this is probably the only comparable vehicle out there for a replacement. Thanks for the review!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Coming from a Mazda 5 I think the TC is going to feel noticeably cheaper inside. These things tend to be commercial vans first, with the passenger wagon version being second fiddle.

      • 0 avatar
        wolfinator

        @JimZ – Are you speaking from experience? Have you been in both?

        I have a Mazda5, and it’s got just about the cheapest, flimsiest interior I’ve encountered on a contemporary car. From the pictures, the Ford looks better. Especially if its plastics don’t scratch like butter.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Moreso than any vehicle on the market, this one is just begging for a stick shift. I’d imagine the sort of people who would want a Euro-spec mini box truck as their daily driver are also the sort who would prefer a 6-speed manual.

    I would buy an ST version new, tomorrow.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Let me try again, maybe this time when I hit post, I wont get a Direct Insurance ad instead of actually posting.

    My basic contention was that Nick, excellent and honest review. A job well done. And the Storm Trooper lead-in pic belongs in the family photo album for sure! Seeing that kinda photo really makes me want to be a father.

    Second, Ford should move production to the Mexican factory that will also build Focus and C-Max. The reason is in number three.

    Third, I believe a “coupe-utility” version of the TC would be awesome. For those that arent familiar, its a small pickup based on a car, think Dodge Rampage/Plymouth Arrow (damn, I actually miss Plymouth), Subaru B.R.A.T., only with far less ugly than those. These types of pickups are popular in Latin America, Africa (where its a “Bakkie” I believe), etc. Not only would it be a global model, I think the US/Canadian market is ready for it. It would be the only small, good-MPG pickup here.

    People used to buy basic Ranger XL models, I-4/5spd/vinyl seat specials instead of small cars. They werent that much more than a basic Escort, but they were useful for active lifestyle types on a budget. I think those customers would be served well by a TC-based pickup. Call it a Transit Courier or just Courier.

    Offer a manual trans. I realize offering it in the cargo or wagon version wouldnt be worth the effort to federalize, but itd be a natural in the pickup. Of course, stripper XL models wouldnt be the only version. Offer XLT trims and EcoBoost engines. Its far-fetched, I know, but if it catches on, offer an ST version.

    So, by say 2020, Ford’s truck line would be:
    Courier -Only truly compact truck on the market (until FCA and Nissan follow, if its successful)
    Ranger -Midsize truck to battle Tacoma, Colorado, etc
    F-150 -Full size light duty
    F-250 – F-550 -Heavy duty full size
    F-650/750 -Medium duty class

    The front of the Transit Connect would be carried over, as would everything from the front seats forward, so passing crash tests, fairly low development costs, and ease of parts avalibility would be assured. Building it in Mexico (along with the cargo version) would negate the chicken tax.

  • avatar
    fabriced28

    Hi there,
    Im using one of those for work, as a real van with no rear seats (in europe).
    I’m surprised about the noise insulation, because it is by far the most silent van I’ve driven so far. Ours comes with the 1.0 Ecoboost engine, 100hp, which I find perfectly sufficient, but then our expectations are very different.

    Don’t you have a storage bin above the instrument cluster? I find it is a strange location but it’s there!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Awful young for the tin worm to already be chewing away.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Read the comments above. The B&B earned their moniker by determining that the aftermarket roof rack install is to blame.

      • 0 avatar
        turf3

        Let me pile on:

        I was quite disturbed when I saw a myriad of little rusty-looking specks on the trunk lid of my new white Volvo a couple of years ago. Then I looked closer and found the same little specks all over the PLASTIC BUMPER.

        Worry instantly alleviated. As far as I know no one has yet been clever enough to devise a flexible plastic for bumpers that rusts.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    You should’ve spent a few grand more and bought a brand new base Chrysler minivan. Better utility, more room and comfort, 260hp engine that won’t wheeze out with 7 people aboard.

    You bought a European minivan. But Europeans don’t drive our distances, they have smaller families, and they don’t need to move the stuff we move. Your van works well for contractors, but as a family-mover, it’s just a tall Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      It’s not even a Euro-minivan. It’s a Euro-commercial vehicle. It’s too bad that Ford didn’t bring over the Grand C-Max or the S-Max. Neither would have sold well though.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Am I the only one who thinks it’s a bit crass to tell someone what they “should have” bought after the fact?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Maybe he wanted something more wieldy but with as much or more cargo space? Something that even if not quite as fast might actually be better to drive? Being an actual commercial vehicle, it may not be luxurious but I bet it is plenty rugged. And how fast do you need to go with 7 pax on board? I saw these things doing 90+mph all over Europe, and I bet they all had smaller motors than what gets sold here.

      As for how “Europeans” live, I suggest that you should not paint with a broad brush. How people live and drive depends very much on where they live. People in England do not live the same way as those in Italy or Belgium or Germany or Sweden. I saw plenty of LARGE families crammed into some mighty small vehicles in Italy for example. And no matter how far from the Netherlands you get in Europe in the summer (and Southern Italy or Northern Sweden is plenty far from The Netherlands), you will encounter Dutchmen towing a camper along with whatever their daily driver is, from Fiat 500 to S-class. Individual European countries can be small, but the distances across the continent certainly are not. 16+ hours from Berlin to Stockholm, even with the German portion of the drive at Autohahn speeds. 14 hours from Budapest to Bologna. 16+ hours from Maine puts me around Chicago or the Carolinas.

      The only thing exceptional about the United States is how exceptional Americans think they are (and generally are not).

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        This is a good urban van. If you are mostly driving kids around town, then I find it better than the larger “American” minivans. Viability is better, it’s easier to park, and it has a smaller footprint.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Exactly. I cannot remember for sure who gave us all the guff about Europeans not driving long distances regularly, wholly swallowed here at TTAC, and that small cars were for small streets, etc, etc. and bought due to living standards at poverty level. While of course in reality, things like Sprinter and Transit vans use those same small streets as delivery vehicles. Gosh, how do they fit? And those thousands of tourist buses/coaches such as gigantic Mercedes models that look like palaces on wheels venturing to town centers, and then disgorge tourists intent on snapping pictures of the fountain. It is a conceit of Americans to belittle European countries as second class places, and Canadians are typically no better, if they actually consider the matter at all before visiting, and most are not hidebound enough to prejudge.

  • avatar
    derekson

    It’s really too bad you can’t get the EcoBoost engine in the LWB model. It doesn’t really make any sense either.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    On the Build and Price, you can option a TC to have the EcoBoost in a LWB model–but only the Van with no seats or windows in XL or XLT.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    These are at the top of my “practical” list, but definitely not my “sexy” list. Still though…if I have to go van, I’m going with this. The alternatives are all too heavy or complicated, this wears its commercial roots proudly and should be easier to maintain for a long run. Coincidentally, I’m constantly kicking around ideas in my head for turning one into a Westfalia-style micro-camper.

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    Nice article. I’m right there with you. I suggested my wife consider a TC to replace her Odyssey some day, and she told me to pound sand. She doesn’t like the looks, and I like that it is a bit weird and Euro (I’m a former UK-built Civic Si hatch owner). I don’t want or need a van enough to get one for myself, thought.

  • avatar
    mistermau

    The review I’ve been waiting for!

    Question:

    Can you tell us more about your highway usage?
    Is it painful for long trips?
    Is it able to cruise at 90mphish?

    Are the heated seats and HVAC adequate?

    Also, I though leather was only available on the Titanium?

    My Passat is on it’s last legs and I want to be more solid in my decision before I pull the trigger on one of these!

    Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      @mistermau

      This is not a long-haul driving vehicle. For a long highway trip, our Nissan Quest is better…240 HP V-6 and lots of sound insulation makes it a great highway cruiser; effortless at 90mph, and the large, comfortable seats also make it better. I have an aftermarket roof rack which adds significant wind noise on the Transit Connect–that and only 169hp would make 90mph sustained potentially unpleasant. Also I am 6’3″ and the seat bottoms are relatively short, since they fit so much into a small profile, it’s an upright seating position. Fine for daily use in/around town, fine for occasional highway trips but again the Quest is preferable if doing 4+ hours on interstates. I have driven the FTC on multiple highway trips but typically state highways where the speed is ~70 and it’s a more comfortable pace…although I still have to turn the stereo up due to my roof rack.

      No heated seats, but they are leather or some kind of faux leather. HVAC system, like everything else, is more European than American in output. Probably not different from your Passat but pales in comparison to a typical GM deep-frost AC system.

      • 0 avatar
        mistermau

        Thanks!

        The HVAC in my Passat makes me sad.

        This really helps. We need a car for my wife also, and I’ll have to see if her car, whatever it ends up being, makes for a good highway cruiser. She is leaning towards a small luxury SUV, so it seems unlikely, which pushes me away from from the TC.

        Hmph.


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