by Jim Bray
Ford’s new little delivery van really does “deliver the goods”, as it were.
Depending on the type of business you own, the Transit Connect might be just what the doctor ordered. It’s small for such a vehicle and the fact that it doesn’t offer a huge amount of power may limit its practicality, but for what it is, it’s very good.
The Transit Connect, which apparently has been available in Europe for several years now but which is just hitting North America, is similar in its raison d’être to the Dodge Sprinter, though smaller. Ford says it fills a need for a vehicle developed specifically for small business owners, offering low operating and ownership costs.
Ford says the Transit Connect uses a dedicated front-wheel drive commercial vehicle platform to provide a vehicle they hope will encourage people to pony up for it instead of reconfiguring their minivan or making do somehow else.
Its mechanical heart is a two liter four cylinder engine that puts out 136 horses @ 6,300 rpm and 128 ft.-lb. of torque @ 4,750 rpm. Those figures won’t set the world on fire – and I wouldn’t want to be hauling heavy stuff up and down mountainsides with that kind of oomph – but it might be all you need.
It has a rather mundane four speed automatic transmission, too, though it works fine, with shifts that are only a bit cargo van-like.
My review Transit Connect was pretty straightforward, with few creature comforts. The cab’s two bucket seats are comfortable but you won’t forget you’re at work and not at play. Perhaps that’s just as well if you’re paying someone to drive the van for you.
The Transit Connect’s relatively small size helps the driving experience. As with the seats, you aren’t about to forget you’re driving a mini cargo van, but it manages to feel relatively nimble and is, in fact, pretty good to drive.
Ford says the power-assisted rack and pinion steering helps achieve a 39 foot turning circle; it also feels right for the guy doing the turning, with tight and accurate control.
Inside are 135 cubic feet (with 52.1 inches of available load height) you can use for stuff, and getting that stuff in is pretty easy thanks to rear cargo doors that open up to 255 degrees. I didn’t load much into the Transit Connect at any one time during my short visit with it, mostly just the assorted detritus we’d been meaning to get rid of for ages. Needless to say, we had room for a lot of it in the Transit Connect!
Ford says the beast will carry 1,600 pounds of stuff.
I also hauled a bicycle in it, which wasn’t much of a chore. In fact, since the lift over is less than two feet high and the cargo section is a big box, I had no trouble getting the bike off the ground and onto its side in the back, lashing it down so it wouldn’t fly out the front window at the first stop sign.