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