Full 2014 Ford Transit Connect Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Ford Transit Connect has been fully redesigned. Highlights include sleeker styling, available third-row seating, new engines and additional standard and optional features.
When it was introduced to North America for the 2010 model year, the Ford Transit Connect became popular with small business owners desiring a smaller, more fuel-efficient cargo hauler than the traditional, full-size commercial van models that had dominated the segment for decades. For 2014, Ford has given the Connect a complete overhaul.
With this second generation, the front-wheel-drive Transit Connect (not to be confused with the Transit, which is Ford's new name for its new full-size van) gains more than just a svelte new shape. For starters, there are now two different wheelbases, along with two new engines, both of which are more powerful and fuel-efficient. Despite the loss of that high roof line, total cargo capacity is down by just 5 cubic feet on long-wheelbase models. The maximum payload spec remains unchanged at 1,600 pounds, while towing capacity checks in at 2,000 pounds.
Buyers can still order the Transit Connect in the popular two-seat cargo van configuration preferred for delivery uses. The passenger-oriented Wagon body style, which was previously offered with only a second-row bench seat and seating for five, can now be had in a long-wheelbase version with three rows of seats and seven-passenger capacity. Twin sliding side doors are standard, and buyers can choose between a rear liftgate or twin barn-style doors that open 180 degrees out back. A variety of side and rear window glass configurations are also available. Finally, there are a handful of new options on offer, including compressed natural gas engine preparation, the MyFord Touch infotainment system and an available panoramic fixed sunroof.
The good news is that the commercial van market is in the midst of dramatic change, meaning buyers now have a wider range of choices than ever before. In the compact cargo van category, the 2014 Ram C/V offers the advantages of quicker acceleration and higher payload and towing capacities because of its strong V6 engine. The recently introduced Nissan NV200 is also worth a look. Yet, thanks to its new features and stylish design, the 2014 Ford Transit Connect should be an excellent choice for small business owners, fleet operators and even normal families desiring a smaller, more fuel-efficient and less expensive minivan.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Ford Transit Connect is a compact commercial minivan that's offered in cargo or passenger-oriented wagon body styles and two different wheelbases. There are three available trim levels: XL, XLT and Titanium (wagon only). The XLT wagon seats five or seven, depending on which wheelbase you select, while seven-passenger seating is standard on the XL and Titanium.
Base standard equipment on the XL cargo van includes 16-inch steel wheels, gray grille/bumpers/side moldings, keyless entry, air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery and floor coverings, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power front windows, power door locks and a two-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio input jack. The XL wagon version is long-wheelbase only and has a second-row seat, a third-row seat, a front-seat center console and power second-row windows.
Stepping up to the XLT cargo van gets you body-color bumpers, foglights, power-adjustable heated mirrors, cloth upholstery, a 4.2-inch multifunction display, cruise control, a front overhead storage shelf and a CD player. The XLT wagon (which is available in short- or long-wheelbase form) also has rear privacy glass, a rearview camera and rear climate controls.
The top-of-the-line Titanium wagon adds 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, adaptive cornering foglights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, four speakers for the sound system and Ford's voice-controlled Sync system.
Many of the features that come standard on upper trim levels are also available on other models. Other major options include 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels, a compressed natural gas engine prep package (late availability), front and rear parking sensors, a towing package, a fixed panoramic sunroof, a roof rack, satellite/HD radio, the MyFord Touch electronics interface (includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and a navigation system) and the Crew Chief telematics system designed for fleet operators.
Powertrains and Performance
Under its low-profile hood, the 2014 Ford Transit Connect is fitted with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque is available as an option on select variants. Both engines send power to the front wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission.
EPA estimated fuel economy for the cargo van with the 2.5-liter engine is 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway). The wagon is slightly less at 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway). Opting for the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine gets you an estimated 25 mpg combined (22/30).
Standard safety features on the 2014 Ford Transit Connect include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover all rows of seats.
Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are available as options. The optional Ford Sync system includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers, is also optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the 2014 Ford Transit Connect you'll find a range of interiors that run from utilitarian to upscale. The XL cargo van, for example, is a bare-bones workhorse with vinyl upholstery and floor coverings, while the top Titanium wagon offers passengers a much more aesthetically pleasing environment enhanced by stylish design, leather upholstery and useful technology like Ford's voice-controlled Sync system.
Now that the Transit Connect is offered in two different wheelbases, buyers can choose from the short-wheelbase wagon model with its five-passenger capacity, or the three-row long-wheelbase variant with room for seven. If it's cargo you're looking to haul, the short-wheelbase model offers 105.9 cubic feet behind the front seats, while the long-wheelbase version's larger cargo hold can swallow 130.6 cubic feet. Even more capacity is available thanks to the fold-flat front passenger seat.
While we've yet to spend any quality time behind the wheel of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect, we know enough to suggest that the standard 2.5-liter engine will likely prove adequate for most buyers' needs. We also expect this small van to possess relatively nimble handling. Check back later for additional driving impressions as they become available.