2014 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon LWB First Test
The Kombi Strikes Back
Nobody likes a tease.
If there's one vehicle that Americans have been chomping at the bit for more than a Jeep Wrangler Pickup, it’s the return of the Volkswagen Bus. Many boomers full of fond teenage memories of driving often smoke-filled VWs from concert to concert would eagerly drop some of their disposable income on a new Bus. VW, for its part, has been quite the tease about the whole situation, thanks to 2001's Microbus and 2011's Bulli concepts. But another automaker might have filled the niche left open by Volkswagen. The new-for-2014 Ford Transit Connect features many of the same characteristics the flower-power generation loved about their VW Buses, now wrapped in fashionable sheetmetal and built on a sporty platform for the smartphone generation.
The Focus-based Transit Connect Wagon is small, stylish, sporty, and, most importantly, different. The passenger version ("Wagon" in Ford parlance) is available in two wheelbase lengths with two different engines and three trim levels. Short-wheelbase models seat five, and long-wheelbase versions seat seven. All Transit Connect Wagons are powered by a 2.5-liter I-4 good for 169 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, though the short wheelbase Transit Connect XLT is available with an optional EcoBoost 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 good for 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of twist. The naturally aspirated engine is good for an EPA-estimated 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, and the EcoBoost is good for 22/30/25 mpg.
At the test track, our 2.5-liter-equipped Transit Connect Wagon accelerated from 0-60 mph in 10.2 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 17.6 seconds at 77.8 mph. That’s a fair bit slower than both the Mazda5 and the last long-wheelbase (but EcoBoost-equipped) Transit Connect Van we tested. The latter hit 60 mph in 8.7 seconds and did the quarter mile in 16.5 seconds at 83.9 mph. The last Mazda5 we tested, a 2014 model, hit 60 mph in 8.2 seconds and ripped through the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds at 85.5 mph, though that last bit’s irrelevant since Mazda discontinued the six-speed manual on the ’5 this year. Coming to a stop from 60 mph takes 127 feet in the Transit Connect Wagon.
Surprisingly for such a tall-looking van, the Transit Connect did pretty well for itself on our handling courses, thanks it its low center of gravity and Focus bones. The Transit Connect lapped our figure-eight course in 29.1 seconds at 0.70g average and completed the skidpad pulling an average 0.77 g. The Mazda5 needs 28.3 second to lap the figure eight, averaging 0.60 g. We'd be very curious to see how a short-wheelbase Transit Connect Wagon -- which is more comparable in physical size to the Mazda -- stacks up at the track.
The differences between our long-wheelbase Transit Connect Titanium Wagon and more traditional minivans are readily apparent where the rubber meets the road. Simply put, the Transit Connect is fun -- and not just for a minivan. The Ford feels sporty and light on its feet, much like the Focus it's based on. The Transit Connect's steering is quick and well-weighted, urging the driver to whip it quickly around corners. The base four-banger is up to the task, too, for the most part, only betraying the fun high up in the rev band when the torque runs out and the transmission turns a bit slushy. The EcoBoost mill helps out handily, as this Transit Connect platform is practically begging for more power.
Inside, the Transit Connect feels positively cavernous, thanks to its high panoramic glass roof and big windows. Both rows of seats are comfortable and spacious, and the third row even reclines a bit. Folding either row of seats takes a bit of practice, but they do fold flat, leaving 104.2 cubic feet of cargo space. No one will mistake the Titanium trim's cabin as luxurious, but it is genuinely nice for a compact van.
The 2014 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon starts at $29,995 and includes leather seats, a rear liftgate (as opposed to swing-out doors), a backup camera, and more. Our tester included a panoramic roof, MyFord Touch, parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, and splash guards, bringing its as-tested price to $33,045. For those that need to seat seven, a comparably equipped Transit Connect XLT Wagon LWB can be had for just under $30,000. For those who only need space for five-passengers, a rather sporty-looking EcoBoost-equipped Transit Connect XLT Wagon SWB can be had for around $27,500.
Volkswagen may have been teasing a return to the van niche that helped put it on the radar in this country, but Ford has stepped up with a fun-to-drive, good-looking, and affordable alternative. Will the Transit Connect Wagon have the success the original VW Bus did? That remains to be seen, but the Transit Connect most certainly encapsulates some of the magic that made the VW Bus such a hit in its day.
|2014 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon LWB|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$33,045|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 7-pass, 4-door wagon|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,970 lb (56/44%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||189.7 x 72.2 x 72.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||10.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||17.6 sec @ 77.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||127 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.77 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||29.1 sec @ 0.70 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||20/28/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||169/120 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.85 lb/mile|
Additional 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon photos provided by the automaker: