This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Thu, Oct 21, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Words and pictures by Doug Stokes The window sticker calls it a 5-passenger wagon, and that it is (you can hear that “however” coming from a mile away, right?). I wanted to drive one for a look at the Transit Connect as a family mini-SUV unit. But that’s not the best possible fit for this machine, at least not in our case. You looked at the accompanying photos first, and may have noted that this rig looks like a non-sanfordized Sprinter—and that’s the actual key to the best use of this machine. But that’s not to say that we didn’t fall in love a little with the Euro-centric Transit Connect. Just driving our Torch Red version into the parking lot at Fresh and Easy or Home Depot had heads turning as if we were driving something a whole lot flashier. There’s no missing that tall-cute look (which is quite helpful in finding this one in large parking lots full of tan, grey, and off-white sport-utes). Of course, that means copious headroom, and an area behind the second row of seats that’s taller than its wide and that begs for a nice rack shelving installation.
Our tester had an unlined rear interior just crying out for some customization a la those “Don’t come a-knocking …” vans of the 1960s. For all the open space inside the Transit was neither cold or dummy. We got it out on the freeway a number of times and were pretty impressed with this little guy’s comportment on the super slab. The steering is strongly on-center and the ride is quite reasonable. We had a bit of rain during our visit with this one, but nothing in the way of high cross winds which usually are not the greatest friends of vehicles with what our CHP friends call high profiles. The big front windshield wipers are excellent and the rear wiper is vestigial at best, however, in two ‘graphs you’ll find out that you don’t look out of the rear windows all that much anyhow.
The dash layout is clean and good, but I’m far from wild about the in-dash computer. I’ll be first to testify that I’m clumsy with them at best, but this one, while not unfriendly, was far from inviting. The fact that the unit came with an almost full-sized keyboard which (thankfully) will not function (even for a “navigator”) when the Transit Connect is in motion. At a staggering $1,395, I’ll pass on that tech option here. Thanks but no thanks. Maybe it was Little ol’ Luddite me, but the nav screen on this one left a lot to be desired, it knows the names of the major streets (and told that I was on, for example, Huntington Drive) but anything other than the main thoroughfares were just lines without names.
There are a pair of great side mirrors, and that’s very good because the center (driver’s) mirror is mounted waaaaay too high to see very far back (you’re looking down as much as you are looking back). As tall as this device is, the seats are set low and car-like making this one easy to get in and out of for driver and passengers. The seats, while not plush, are plenty supportive front and second row. As a city runabout my first suggestion for new owners is that they reach down on the shift lever to feel that, ah, right, that’s it. Push that little button in and… Uh, we’re locked out of overdrive until we get back on the freeway. No, I mean yes, it’ll bite into the Federal 22 miles-per-gallon city rating this one carries, but it will also add greatly to the responsiveness of the 2.0 liter 16-valve Duratec engine (136 horses and 128 pound-feet of torque) up front. Not exactly kicking the turbos in, but far less leaden than the kind of shot you get by running around town in Drive. Like all new passenger-intended vehicles, the Transit come with built-in stability control. In this case Ford calls it Advanctrac w/RSC , we did NOT try to invoke it during our week behind the wheel. Most likely some of the freeway steadiness that we felt could be attributed to the system, but we just weren’t about to try to tip this one up on two wheels just for fun.
If you remember, there were thoughts of this one as a family trip unit. On further review, the Transit Connect does not make it as a sport-ute that we might want. On the other hand it is a very handy little city runabout and tradesman’s (or woman’s) machine. Put all that tallness to good use (got show dogs, alarm systems, mobile sewing machine repair, home inspection, or a roving key smith biz?) get one of these and put your good/products/services up BIG on the sides and get noticed like you’ve never been recognized before. Our tester was ticketed at $24,975, but that included a few items that went into making this one the XLT Wagon. They begin at just a tick over $20K and the all the ones that we’ve seen here in LA Car country have been very neatly done up in business colors. Think of this one as a small, enclosed, vertical pickup and you’ll be bang-on.
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT Wagon Price: $22,350 (base) $24,975 (as tested, with rear cargo door check arms, reverse sensing system, front and rear carpeted floor mats, in-dash computer, and destination charges) EPA fuel economy rating: 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway Engine: 2.0 liter in-line four Duratec Horsepower: 136 at 6300 rpm Torque: 128 pound-feet at 4750 rpm Transmission: 4-speed auto transaxle Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Dimensions Length: 180.6 inches Width: 70.7 inches Height: 79.3 inches Curb weight: 3470 pounds