2014 Ford Transit Connect (Small Van)

By: Ed Sanchez

We Like: Carlike handling and feel; eager EcoBoost engine.

We Don't Like: Excessive road/interior noise.

Ford's international compact cargo-hauler gets a major makeover for 2014, with more carlike Kinetic Design language inside and out, all-new powertrains, and a new torsion beam rear suspension setup that improves handling dynamics. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost I-4 shared with the Escape SUV and Ford Fusion. The engine's 178 hp and 184 lb-ft had no problem propelling the Transit Connect's 3500-pound weight and didn't mind a payload, either.

The Transit Connect's seating position, driving manners, and overall feel were by far the most carlike of this year's contenders. The dash and control layout, including the love-it-or-hate-it MyFord Touch, is instantly familiar to anyone who's spent time in Ford's recent cars and SUVs.

Unsurprisingly for a cargo configuration, the interior of the Transit Connect had some resonance at speed, and pebbles hitting the undercarriage made a loud metallic staccato. Although a little more road noise isolation would be nice, it was important to keep the vehicle's mission in mind when making NVH assessments.

Compared with the Nissan NV200 also present at this year's comparison, the Transit Connect was by far more rewarding to drive, with far less body roll, much better handling and power, handsomer styling, and more appeal to those with an interest beyond schlepping goods from point A to point B.

The Transit Connect's multitude of configurations of seating, glass, and lengths offers something for almost every need and interest. The 2014 Transit Connect builds on the strengths that made its predecessor so popular with small businesses, while adding a dash of consumer appeal with updated powertrains and handsome styling.

  2014 Ford Transit Connect
Base Price $25,315
Price As Tested $31,075
Power (SAE net) 178 hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Accel 0-60, mph 8.7 sec; 11.5 sec*
Quarter Mile 16.5 sec @ 83.9 mph; 18.3 sec @ 76.6 mph*
Braking 60-0, mph 126 ft
Lateral Accel 0.81 g (avg)
EPA Econ (city/hwy) N/A
Real MPG (city/hwy) 22/32 mpg
* with 1275-lb payload