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The 2010 Ford Transit Connect is a new type of compact work van that should appeal to small business owners who don't have heavy-duty hauling needs.
Nimble in the city, excellent fuel economy, cavernous space given its exterior size, innovative high-tech options.
Glaciers are quicker, modest payload capacity, funky Fusion-meets-Sprinter van styling.
Available Transit Connect Models
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The 2010 Ford Transit Connect is an all-new compact work van. Already sold in Europe and other markets, the Transit Connect is designed for small business owners who don't need a full-size, V8-powered van.
Europeans are into some weird stuff: warm beer, curtainless showers, techno music, shrimp with the antennae still attached -- and lots more that's less fit to print. Europeans also use funky work vans with goofy tall roofs and tiny, fuel-efficient engines. They're quirky, to be sure, but unlike techno, they definitely hold some appeal for folks on our side of the Atlantic. Enter the new 2010 Ford Transit Connect, a European-style compact work van intended for small business owners who view a V8-powered cargo van as overkill.
In case you haven't glimpsed the Transit Connect, just imagine the unholy spawn of a Ford Fusion and a Dodge Sprinter crunched in a trash compactor and you'll get the idea. Indeed, there are many similarities to the Sprinter, which is also a European-sourced work van that features a fuel-efficient engine, relatively nimble around-town handling and cavernous interior space. Think of the Transit Connect as Sprinter lite -- a conceptually similar vehicle in a smaller and dramatically more affordable package.
Unlike other work vans, the 2010 Ford Transit Connect comes in only one body style and with one engine. It also features unibody construction rather than the typical body-on-frame, which yields a much lower load floor and consequently an enormous cargo hold relative to the Transit Connect's tidy footprint. With 135 cubic feet of space behind its front seats, the Transit Connect offers 100 fewer cubes than the full-size Ford Econoline, but the same as a Chevy Suburban. Moreover, the Transit Connect's ample interior height and low floor make accessing all your work-related items much easier than it would ever be in a Suburban. There is a passenger-van version available with a second-row seat, but we're guessing that it'll appeal more to work crews and perhaps cab companies than a family.
A downside of that unibody construction is that towing capacity suffers, but with only a 136-horsepower gasoline four-cylinder under its longish nose, the Transit Connect won't be towing much beyond a little red wagon anyway. That's even less power than you get in the Ford Focus, which employs essentially the same 2.0-liter engine. Although the Transit Connect's willing four-speed automatic and short final-drive ratio do their best, acceleration would still be best described as glacial. On the upside, fuel economy is outstanding for a work van with an EPA combined estimate of 23 mpg.
The Transit Connect also introduces a variety of new features designed specifically for small businesses. Shelving units are a thoughtful basic option, while the new Ford Work Solutions lineup is geared toward more high-tech operations. The centerpiece is an in-dash computer that features a Microsoft operating system, a touchscreen, a wireless mouse and keyboard, a Garmin navigation system and Internet access. Also on the Work Solutions menu are the Crew Chief, which tracks the vehicle's location, speed and idle time, making 3-hour lunches at Fuddruckers a thing of the past; and Tool Link by DeWalt, which keeps track of your tool inventory via radio frequency ID tags.
Built in Turkey, the Transit Connect has racked up more than 600,000 sales worldwide since its 2003 introduction. Given its impressive interior space, fuel economy and innovative business-oriented features, we think Ford's new van will attract business owners here in the United States as well -- especially in urban areas. The 2010 Ford Transit Connect enters a market with virtually no direct competitors (the Chevy HHR panel van is too small, the full-size domestic work vans are too big and thirsty and the Sprinter is pricier), so only time will tell how customers will take to this newfangled conveyance. No doubt Ford is hoping they find it more appealing than techno and warm beer.
The 2010 Ford Transit Connect is a compact work van available in Van XL, Van XLT, Wagon XL and Wagon XLT trims, but the only difference between Van and Wagon is the presence of a second-row seat. All come with dual sliding side doors, but these can be deleted, as can the rear glass on the Van.
Standard equipment on the XL includes 15-inch steel wheels, gray plastic bumpers, 180-degree rear doors, air-conditioning, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, driver seat height adjustment, cloth upholstery and a two-speaker stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The Wagon XL includes a two-person bench seat. The XLT adds body-color bumpers, full power accessories, heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, a cargo area 12-volt power point and a CD player. The Wagon XLT includes a split-folding 60/40 three-passenger second-row bench seat.
Options on all trims include an in-dash computer (featuring a touchscreen display, a Microsoft operating system, a wireless mouse and keyboard, a Garmin navigation system and Internet access) and the Crew Chief vehicle tracking system. The Van trims can be equipped with the Tool Link by DeWalt tool tracking and inventory system. Options available on the XLT trims include rear parking sensors, 255-degree rear doors, Bluetooth and remote ignition. Port-installed rear shelving units are also available.
Every 2010 Ford Transit Connect features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 138 hp and 132 pound-feet of torque. In our testing, we recorded a sluggish 0-60 mph time of 12.4 seconds. The mandatory four-speed automatic transmission sends that meager thrust to the front wheels. EPA estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.
Standard safety equipment includes four-wheel antilock brakes (disc front, drum rear) and front side airbags. Stability control is optional on the Van trims and standard on the Wagon.
The Transit Connect's front cabin doesn't look like a traditional work van's; rather, you'll find a carlike dashboard and driving position. It's a pleasing look that's accented by funky patterned upholstery. Climate and stereo controls are appropriately straightforward. The various high-tech Work Solution features should be a boon for modern business owners with their increasingly complex needs.
In terms of cargo space, the Transit Connect Van offers a palatial 135 cubic feet. Much of that comes from the tall roof, so long items may not fit lengthwise, but the available shelving units make the most of the cargo area. Maximum payload is a modest 1,600 pounds. For ferrying work crews around, the Wagon's rear seats offer a firm seat bottom and reasonable space. The Transit Connect isn't really suitable for families, though.
The 2010 Ford Transit Connect's tall and narrow dimensions make it easy to maneuver through narrow urban streets that would leave an Econoline driver double-checking that his company's insurance is paid up. At 39 feet, its turning circle is quite small for something that can lug about 135 cubic feet of stuff. So agility is present, but alas, rapidity is not. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder that feels taxed in the 2,642-pound Ford Focus is completely zonked in the 3,470-pound Transit Connect. Naturally, adding cargo will further reduce its pep.
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