2010 Ford Transit Connect First Look
A right-size solution or the answer to a question no one is asking?
Say you're a small-business owner looking for the ideal vehicle for your latest startup. You want something that can carry all the tools of your trade, including equipment and a few samples. This gear is valuable, so you want a fully enclosed storage area. There's lots of it, so you're interested in keeping things organized but accessible. You want a vehicle that is reasonably sized but easy to drive and park. And it would be swell if said vehicle could double as a people-mover for clients and coworkers and as the school bus for your kids. You're watching the bottom line, so the vehicle needs to be cheap to own, cheaper to run, and come with a proven track record.
What do you choose? A work truck? Close, but the payload and towing capacity are overkill, plus the open bed and fuel economy are a concern. How about a full-size van? Getting warmer, but they're too big and too thirsty. A minivan then: Stow the rear seats, stash the middle row, and, presto, cargo capacity galore.
That's probably the closest you'll get, unless you wait until summer, when Ford's 2010 Transit Connect arrives at dealerships.
There's good reason the Transit Connect looks like something the UPS man might thread through the narrow streets of London or Rome. Ford has been building these commercial vans in Kocaeli, Turkey, and selling them primarily in Europe, Asia, and South America since 2003. In that time, it's sold over 600,000 Transit Connects in 58 countries. America is next, as Ford thinks it's found a new niche to exploit. Ford may be correct. As far as purpose-built commercial vehicles go, there's nothing like the Transit Connect currently on sale in the U.S. Built on a truck-tough version of the European Focus C-170 platform, the Transit Connect utilizes a transverse powertrain to drive the front wheels. The engine is smaller than anything you'd find in an American commercial cargo vehicle: a 2.0-liter Duratec four-cylinder that produces an estimated 136 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a four-speed automatic. The upside of this relatively light-duty powertrain is good fuel economy. Ford expects the Transit Connect to hit 20 city and 24 highway mpg--high for the commercial-vehicle sector. Want even better fuel economy? Wait until next year, when the 100-mile-range battery-powered Transit Connect BEV finds its way into select dealerships.
Clearly, the big news is not under the hood, it's in the back. Ford loves to tout the Transit's 135 cubic feet of cargo volume, which is more than double the capacity of the Chevrolet HHR panel van. Ford also likes to brag about the Transit Connect's 1600-pound maximum cargo payload, more than the payload of Dodge's full-size Ram 1500 (standard cab, short box with any engine) can carry. How well this I-4-powered front driver will be able to lug such bulk and volume we don't know yet, but Ford assures us the Transit Connect will do just fine--especially with its low 4.20:1 axle ratio.
With dual sliding doors and rear-cargo doors that can open up to 255 degrees (180 degrees standard), accessing the capacious cargo area is easy. So is loading it--the liftover height is less than two feet unladen -- and there's a lot of space to work with once inside. The cargo area is 59.1 inches from floor to ceiling, with 47.8 inches between the wheelwells. At 72.6 inches, the load floor is more than six feet long -- impressive for a vehicle that's only 180.6 inches long and 70.7 inches wide.
Even more impressive is the Transit Connect's flexibility. It's available as a regular van, with windows in both sliding doors and at the back, cargo van (no side windows, rear privacy glass), or panel van (no side or rear windows). You can also outfit it with a folding second-row seat (for two or three passengers) for people-moving.
Ford also has made available a range of business-friendly equipment for the Transit Connect. Like the Ford E-Series commercial-vehicle family, Transit Connects can be fitted with optional bulkheads, racks, and bins, as well as the Ford Work Solutions system. This in-dash, Internet-linked computer system creates a sort of mobile office for small business owners and provides the ability to do everything from remotely accessing an office computer, to inputting customer information, to printing out invoices. In addition, Ford Work Solutions offers special programs like Crew Chief (allows for the tracking of a fleet of Transit Connects) and DeWalt's Tool Link (for organizing, scanning, and tracking such items as tools and inventory).
Will it work? It should. At $21,475, the Transit Connect is priced within reach of anyone looking for a light-duty van that can swallow an impressive amount of cargo.
|2010 Ford Transit Connect|
|Location of final assembly||Kocaeli, Turkey|
|Body style||3-door van|
|EPA size class||Special purpose|
|Drivetrain layout||Front engine, FWD|
|Airbags||Front, front side|
|Engine type||I-4, alum block/head|
|Bore x stroke||3.44 x 3.27 in|
|Displacement||122.0 ci/2.0 L|
|Valve gear||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|SAE horsepower||136 hp @ 6300 rpm|
|SAE torque||128 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm|
|Transmission type||4-speed automatic|
|Final drive ratio||3.07:1|
|Recommended fuel||Regular unleaded|
|Track, f/r||59.3/61.1 in|
|Headroom, f/r||51.1/50.5 in|
|Legroom, f/r||40.5/38.5 in|
|Shoulder room, f/r||54.4/59.6 in|
|Cargo volume, behind 1st/2nd row||135.3/78.1 cu ft|
|Load lift height||24.0 in|
|Curb weight||3470 lb|
|Max payload capacity||1600 lb|
|Max towing capacity||N/A|
|Fuel capacity||15.1 gal|
|Suspension, f/r||Strut, anti-roll bar/ multileaf, anti-roll bar|
|Turns, lock to lock||2.6|
|Turning circle||39.0 ft|
|Brakes, f/r||10.9-in disc/ 9.0-in drum, ABS (est)|
|Wheels||6.0 x 15-in alloy (est)|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy||20/24 mpg (est)|
|CO2 emissions||0.90 lb/mile (est)|