2019 Ford Transit Connect Wagon Review - The Clock Strikes Van Time

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
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Fast Facts

2019 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon LWB

2.0-liter inline four (150 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 144 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
24 city / 29 highway / 26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
9.9 city / 8.2 highway / 9.2 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
27.9 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $32,790 US / $40,475 CAD
As Tested: $37,010 US /$43,750 CAD
Prices include $1,195 destination charge in the United States and $2,000 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 ford transit connect wagon review the clock strikes van time

Welcome to the least hip car segment – the minivan. It’s what our parents drove, right? Nobody wants to be as tragically uncool as their parents, even as they themselves become parents.

Might I, an experienced parent, suggest something to the millennials and hipsters who are starting to reproduce? Consider getting back to the minivan genre before it becomes cool again. Be the parent who values utility and comfort over the overstyled, overstuffed crossover that every other new parent rushes out to buy. The moment you ease a rear sliding door open with one hand while swinging the bucket-style baby carrier right into the seat with the other is a revelation, especially after dealing with narrow-opening traditional doors found on sedans and SUVs.

In other words, it’s van time. Be the envy of the other new parents. Be different. And take a good look at all your options, because beyond the usual suspects lies this 2019 Ford Transit Connect Wagon. It has some surprising features that make it stand out.

My time testing the Transit Connect coincided with Girl Scout cookie season – and my wife is the cookie mom, meaning we had to transport all the goods … except for that one case of Thin Mints that “went missing.” Anyhow, we had to haul cookies, tables, a popup tent, and scouts to the supermarket on a busy Saturday so they could peddle their little four-dollar boxes of crack.

And man, could we haul. As I had kids in the second row of the van, I didn’t go nuts loading cookies to the high ceiling, but I had no problems loading everything behind the second row with room to spare. The seats in both the second and third rows easily fold down, leaving a flat surface for cargo.

The Transit Connect’s commercial roots do come through when it’s time to load the kids in – they were baffled why the doors don’t open or close with a button. I had to do the “back in my day, minivans didn’t have power doors” old man line with them a few times, but it’s a convenience feature we’ve certainly grown accustomed to. The tailgate is similarly manually operated – and considering the height of the door, one might want to check that it doesn’t interfere with a garage door when lifting. Again, it’s minor, but something to consider if you’ve been looking at other minivans.

I was impressed with the comfort of the seats, though my (admittedly cheapskate) preference would be for cloth seats, as found in the XL and XLT trims, rather than the leather in this Platinum edition. Still, the chairs were supportive enough to keep me refreshed on a long road trip, and the kids had no complaints in either the second or third rows.

As the Transit Connect is powered by a four-cylinder engine, I did notice a bit more engine noise under acceleration than I typically find in the V6-powered competition, but it was neither overwhelming nor objectionable. In steady-state cruising, the van was mostly quiet, with just a bit of wind noise over the A-pillar. I’ll take a little bit of noise as a tradeoff for the great fuel economy. The handling was excellent, with good stability even in crosswinds from speeding tractor-trailers.

I’d imagine you won’t find many reviews of the Ford Transit Connect Wagon. I’d requested this from Ford simply because I’m a completist – I like to have sampled every possible vehicle in a class so I can make an educated recommendation. I’d forgotten that it was even available in passenger form until I saw that a neighbor owns one. I never expected that I’d like it this much.

And nobody is buying it – at least, not as a passenger vehicle. Ford doesn’t break down specific numbers between the passenger “Wagon” model and the commercial “Cargo” model, but in total, 31,923 Transit Connects moved off lots last year. I reached out to Ford for more, and Dawn McKenzie, product communications manager, told me that roughly 20 percent of the Transit Connect market is for the passenger Wagon. Extrapolated, that means the Transit Connect Wagon sold a bit more than 6,000 units in 2018. Compare that to 118,322 Chrysler Pacificas, 106,327 Honda Odysseys, and 151,927 Dodge Grand Caravans – it’s barely a drop in a bucket.

Really, the primary competition for the Transit Connect is the Dodge Grand Caravan, also an aged design that can be had for a reasonable price. I currently own a 2012 Chrysler Town & Country which, despite being rock solid, manages around 16 miles per gallon in normal driving. See above: this four-cylinder Ford managed very nearly double that fuel economy – 27.9 mpg – over my week of driving. That’s impressive. Yeah, it’s down on power to basically everything else that can haul six or seven people, but the power is adequate for any minivan task.

If I were shopping a Transit Connect Wagon to haul my family, I’d be looking toward the more budget end of the build-and-price tool. My choice would be a long-wheelbase XLT model, optioned with the blind spot monitor, forward and reverse sensing system, adaptive cruise control, alloy wheels, and the second-row bench – you never know when you need to haul seven instead of six. So equipped (as shown in the screenshot below) the sticker would be $31,740 before incentives. Much more palatable than the near-$50k figures on the high-zoot Honda and Chrysler vans.

What makes the Transit Connect Wagon so interesting is exactly why minivans are so great – flexibility. The lack of luxury and convenience features can be a blessing for someone who needs a vehicle both for their business and for hauling people. With fewer plush leather bits to scuff, sturdy plastic trim everywhere, and impressive fuel economy, this van will work beautifully for many buyers.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC; screenshot courtesy Ford.com]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in ebay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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2 of 64 comments
  • HotPotato HotPotato on Apr 09, 2019

    This would be even better with the PHEV system from the dearly departed C-Max Energi. Great for ride share drivers sick of kids trying to hide extra passengers on the floor. The Ultimate Ubering Machine.

  • Sparecr Sparecr on Apr 14, 2019

    I picked up the 2018 version of the LWB commercial cargo van last year. I wanted a small mini pickup and as we all know they don't make that anymore. Paid just over 20K, for exactly the one I wanted, pass side door glass, LED in the cargo area, backup camera. I would have loved the BLISS (Blind Spot detection system) like on my SHO but that was not in stock anywhere on a basic van. I looked at the ProMaster but I had bad experiences with a pair of Fiat 500's I had in 2012/13 and could not get past that. I will be honest I could have purchased a Grand Caravan (father has driven Caravans since 1983 and one the first delivered) for a grand more and had seats, TV, carpet, etc in the back but then I couldn't use it as a truck (or at least wouldn't). This might be one of the best purchases I have ever made. Does what I want get mid-20's for gas mileage and can haul just about anything except a 4x8 sheet of plywood. I hope Ford fixes that when I replace this otherwise it will be an MB Metris for me. Unless of course the rumored Focus based sub Ranger Pickup is built then...

  • 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
  • El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
  • RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.