Used 2016 Ford Transit Connect Review

The 2016 Ford Transit Connect can be a smart choice for small business owners or families seeking a lower-cost, more maneuverable alternative to full-size cargo vans or minivans.




what's new

Other than a few new available features for upper-level trims, the 2016 Transit Connect is basically unchanged from last year.

vehicle overview

Ford's Transit Connect has long been a hit outside the United States, where small vans are among the most popular vehicles. These vans make it fairly easy to cope with crowded, narrow streets, cramped parking spaces and fuel prices that would make most U.S. motorists blanche. Now stateside shoppers are beginning to discover the virtues of small. For several years, Ford was pretty much alone in offering its compact Transit Connect cargo van and passenger wagon. Several competitors arrived last year, but the 2016 Ford Transit Connect van and wagon remain excellent choices for families and for small-business owners looking to downsize from a full-size van.

Families needing to carry people will find the 2016 Ford Transit Connect wagon pretty useful. It can seat five or seven, depending on which wheelbase you select, and headroom and legroom are plentiful, even for adults. It's a great option if space and affordability are your priorities. But compared with more conventional minivans, the Transit Connect is bound to feel a bit bare-bones, whether you're looking at its so-so interior plastics or its relatively modest list of amenities.

Commercial users will find more to like. The Transit Connect van comes in several different configurations, with two available wheelbases and two available, moderately fuel-efficient engines. Ford has pre-drilled holes to allow for easy setup of shelving and storage units, and if you have a lot of cargo, the Transit Connect can haul up to 1,600 pounds or tow up to 2,000 pounds. That's not much compared with full-size cargo vans (including Ford's full-size Transit Van), but for smaller businesses, this might be just enough capability. Plus, even when carrying a full load, the Transit Connect feels agile and easy to maneuver.

Of course, if you're comparing the Ford Transit Connect van to those larger cargo vans, its sacrifices in power, space and overall capability are obvious. The Transit Connect's more direct competitors are the Nissan NV200 (and its Chevrolet sibling, the City Express van) and the Ram ProMaster City. Meanwhile, top-rated minivans like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are far more comfortable and spacious than the Transit Connect wagon, but they're also quite a bit larger and more expensive. Overall, we think the 2016 Ford Transit Connect is an excellent choice.

trim levels & features

The 2016 Ford Transit Connect is a compact commercial minivan offered in cargo van and passenger wagon body styles, each with 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. All versions have dual sliding rear doors and give you a choice between swing-out cargo doors or an overhead liftgate.

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, built-in cargo tie-down hooks, an overhead storage shelf, 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 comes with the same standard equipment, but is long-wheelbase only and adds second- and third-row seats, two rear speakers for the stereo, rear climate controls and power second-row windows.

Stepping up to the XLT cargo van gets you body-color bumpers, foglights, power-adjustable heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, cloth upholstery, driver lumbar adjustment, a passenger vanity mirror, a multifunction display, cruise control and a CD player. The XLT wagon comes in short- or long-wheelbase styles, mirrors the XLT cargo's equipment and adds a rearview camera and a thicker acoustic windshield. Rear climate controls aren't available on the short-wheelbase XLT wagon.

The top-of-the-line Titanium wagon adds 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, adaptive cornering foglights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors, chrome exterior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with built-in compass, four front speakers for the sound system and Ford's voice-controlled Sync system.

Many of the features that come standard on the 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, 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 Ford Telematics system designed for fleet operators.

performance & mpg

The 2016 Ford Transit Connect comes with two engines choices. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 169 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque is standard in all models. A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque is an option on all variants except the long-wheelbase wagon. Power from either engine is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the cargo van with the 2.5-liter engine is 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway). The wagon is rated lower, at 22 mpg combined (19/27), which is only barely better than you'd get with a larger V6-equipped minivan. Opting for the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine gets you an estimated 25 mpg combined (22/30) with both the cargo van and the wagon.

safety

The 2016 Ford Transit Connect's standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill start assist, and front seat side and side curtain airbags.

Front and rear parking sensors, daytime running lights, a blind spot and cross-traffic warning system and a rearview camera are available as options on various models. The optional Ford Sync and Sync with MyFord Touch systems includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. They aren't as good as the new Sync 3 system being introduced on new and redesigned Ford models, but are a lot more refined than when first introduced. Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set certain parameters for various drivers (think teens, valets or employees), is also optional.

In government crash tests, the 2016 Transit Connect wagon earned five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection.

driving

Although the 2016 Ford Transit Connect lacks the get-up-and-go of V6-powered traditional minivans, it feels much lighter and a lot more agile around town. Those are characteristics that are equally useful for large families and for delivery drivers needing to get in and out of tight spaces. They may even trump the regulation minivan's greater power. If you live in the city or frequently travel on tight rural roads, the Transit Connect will feel like an athlete compared with a Honda Odyssey. We recommend getting the punchier and more efficient turbocharged engine, but unfortunately, it isn't available on the seven-passenger wagon models that are most attractive to non-commercial buyers.

The steering is particularly praiseworthy, offering the just-right effort and impressive road feel found in other Ford vehicles. On the other hand, the ride can be bumpy over rough roads, and suspension-transmitted noises tend to make their way into the cabin much as they can on smaller, sportier vehicles. That may be fine for those transitioning from something like a Focus, but minivan drivers may find the Transit Connect's suspension doesn't provide the suppleness and isolation they've come to expect.

interior

With the Transit Connect, flexibility is paramount. The wagon -- particularly the seven-passenger long-wheelbase model -- can be used as a family vehicle. Granted, the second-row seat doesn't recline or slide, and folding both the second and third rows of seats takes an extra step compared with most minivans, but space in both rows is just as good (and sometimes better), especially the headroom. Though not objectionable, the quality of plastics isn't up to Ford's current standards. The Titanium trim's leather upholstery and advanced technology should please its owners at a price point that significantly undercuts similarly priced rivals.

If it's cargo you're looking to haul, the short-wheelbase cargo van offers 103.9 cubic feet behind the front seats, while the long-wheelbase version's larger cargo hold can swallow 128.6 cubic feet. This is less than a regular minivan, but still much better than a large crossover. Even more capacity is available thanks to the fold-flat front passenger seat. Cargo room in the wagon models is reduced, but if the seats are folded, the short-wheelbase wagon offers a maximum of 77.1 cubic feet and the long-wheelbase models offer 104.2 cubic feet.

Although the Transit Connect has a much larger windshield and dashboard than its siblings, the Ford Escape and C-Max, from the driver seat it could easily be either. The distinctive dash design is virtually identical, with climate controls below clearly separated from the infotainment controls above. The optional MyFord Touch system has received its fair share of complaints for its usability and electronic glitches, but these have mostly been corrected with software updates, and MyFord Touch is now easier to use than in years past. The same can't be said, however, for the standard stereo interface, which consists of a small central screen controlled by many buttons.

Behind the driver, however, things get considerably different -- and vary considerably depending on the wheelbase and whether you're carrying people or cargo. The XL cargo van, for example, is a bare-bones workhorse with vinyl upholstery and floor coverings with mounting points for customizable shelves and whatever a business might need. Upper trim levels, especially in the wagon models, add creature comforts, but the van is still very much a dedicated work vehicle.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.