When Ford first brought its Transit Connect compact van from Europe for the 2010 model year, it was met with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism due to its smaller size and quirky body style, but the timing couldn't have been better. Higher fuel prices and a recession made it a fleet favorite, because it offered 25 mpg highway at a retail price just north of $20,000.
The compact van received a make-over for the 2014, and Ford introduced the Transit Connect Wagon, a seven-passenger "unminivan" based on the Tourneo Connect sold in Europe.
The cargo variant is more prevelant among fleets, so we tested the long wheelbase Transit Connect XLT with the optional 1.6-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost. The van came with a few other bells and whistles, including the MyFord infotainment system with satelite radio, SYNC, and a back-up camera. The package all came in at just north of $30,000.
This Transit Connect offers a smooth ride with agile handling and a fuel economy rating that has been significantly improved from 2010 with an EPA-rated 30 mpg highway, 22 mpg city, and 25 mpg combined for the model we tested.
If driving a compact van could ever be described as fun, this would be the van to garner that descriptor. The lower car-like ride improves the experiance, and if you're not used to stepping down from the driver's seat you may stumble as I did.
Like other compact vans, the driver's compartment offers a car-like familiarity, and once you get the steering-wheel position right, the gauges are easily viewable. An LCD in-dash screen displays plenty of data once you get the hang of navigating the infotainment system, which has been improved from earlier versions.
Rather than opting for the 60/40 rear-opening doors offered on other vehicles in this segment, Ford opts for symmetrical doors and gives package delivery fleets several levers and buttons to set the rear doors at 90 or 180 degrees while stopped in city traffic.
This Transit Connect continues to offer tremendous value and the sleeker body styling makes it a bit more eye-catching and an appealing update for a vehicle that serves as an solid option for fleets that don't require a full-size van.