2017 Ford Transit Connect Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2017 Ford Transit Connect is one of a very small number of compact vans that targets both commercial and individual buyers. For those in need of something business-oriented, the Transit Connect Cargo Van offers seating for two, with an empty area behind the front seats that is good for up to 128.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Alternately, the Wagon variant fills this space with two or three rows of passenger seating (depending on wheelbase configuration). Although the Wagon is not as luxurious as a typical minivan, it's nice enough inside to distract you from the fact that it's a just a modified version of a bare-bones utility vehicle.
With either version, we like how the Transit Connect goes out of its way to meet your needs. There are a seemingly endless number of door, window, interior storage, infotainment and luxury options to consider. Each body style also gets features unique to the way they are typically used. The Wagon can be ordered with closing overhead bins similar to those found in an airplane, or a fixed-glass panoramic roof. The Cargo Van comes standard with LED lights in the cargo area to aid in nighttime loading and unloading.
Although the Ford Transit Connect was the first modern small cargo van on the scene, a few competitors have entered the fray in the last few years. If you're looking strictly for a small cargo van, the Chevrolet City Express and its mechanical twin, the Nissan NV200, also offer two seats and a large cargo area. The Ram City Promaster is similar but offers a second row for passengers and its payload rating is a few hundred pounds higher. You might even look at the midsize (but more expensive) Mercedes-Benz Metris if you want a van that's bigger than these compact models but not as large as full-size behemoths like the regular Ford Transit. Overall, we think you'll be impressed with the Connect's versatility and wealth of available options.
The 2017 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 3 systems include 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 various drivers (think teens, valets or employees), is also optional.
In government crash tests, the 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.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Ford Transit Connect is a compact commercial minivan offered in Cargo Van and Wagon body styles, each with two different wheelbases. There are three available trim levels: XL, XLT and the wagon-only Titanium. The XLT and Titanium wagons seat five or seven, depending on which wheelbase you select, while seven-passenger seating is standard on the XL. All versions have dual sliding rear doors and give you a choice between swing-out cargo doors or an overhead liftgate (the Titanium only comes with the 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 rear parking sensors, driver lumbar adjustment, 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, carpeted floor coverings, 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 automatic headlights, roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-way power driver seat, a conversation mirror, and a thicker acoustic windshield, four front speakers for the sound system and voice controls (Ford's Sync system). Ford's MyKey system (detailed in the "Safety" section), is also included.
The top-of-the-line Titanium wagon adds 16-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cornering foglights, power-folding mirrors, chrome exterior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, navigation and the Sync 3 infotainment interface.
Note that rear climate controls aren't available on the short-wheelbase XLT and Titanium wagons.
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, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, satellite/HD radio and the Ford Telematics system designed for fleet operators.
There's only one engine available in the 2017 Ford Transit Connect: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 169 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Although EPA figures have not yet been announced for the 2017 Transit Connect, we don't expect them to change much from last year's model. The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the 2016 cargo van with the 2.5-liter engine was 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/28 mpg highway). The wagon was rated lower, at 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway), which is only barely better than you'd get with a typical V6-equipped minivan.
Maximum payload capacity is rated at 1,620 pounds, coming in between the ratings for the City Express and Ram City Promaster. Properly equipped, the Transit Connect can tow 2,000 pounds.
Although the 2017 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. These characteristics are equally useful for large families and for delivery drivers needing to get in and out of tight spaces. If you live in the city or frequently travel on tight rural roads, the Transit Connect will feel like an athlete compared to something like a Honda Odyssey. Unfortunately, the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine we liked so much from last year has been axed, leaving the less powerful (and less fuel-efficient) 2.5-liter engine as the only engine choice.
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.
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, especially the headroom.
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 quality of the interior materials is below what you'll find in mainstream Ford products, but on the whole the Transit Connect is pretty nice for its class. The Sync 3 infotainment system is new this year, and it's quicker to respond to user inputs, and feels much like a smartphone (with pinch-to-zoom and swiping gestures) than the previous MyFord Touch system. The same can't be said, however, for the standard stereo interface, which consists of a small central screen controlled by many buttons.
What's behind the driver varies 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.