Ford’s Transit Connect makes a lot of sense for tradesmen and small businesses. It’s got enough room to haul your stuff around, and its 2.0 liter inline four sips gas. The Transit Connect is stylish enough for a boxy, compact van, and it did pick up the 2010 North American Truck of the Year award. It’s the van you buy when you don’t need something as roomy (or expensive) as a Dodge Sprinter, or a full size Ford E Series.
Ford’s offered the Transit Connect in XLT Wagon trim since launch, which gives you a second row of seats if you need to haul passengers as well as cargo. It even gives you two more windows for passengers to ponder their surroundings, but the cargo area remains dark. Like full sized vans, the interior amenities were best described as “spartan”. If you like the look of painted sheetmetal and spars, then you’ll love the look of the Transit Connect XLT, which has no sound deadening or interior panels.
Enter the Transit Connect XLT Premium, which features a finished interior, more comfortable seating and widows in the cargo area so rear seat occupants feel more like passengers and less like hostages. The rear windows even swing open for ventilation, which helps to aid passenger
escape comfort. The driver gets integrated blind spot mirrors and a rearview camera, which makes backing the Transit Connect an easier task.
Ford’s chief nameplate engineer for commercial vehicles, Rob Stevens, insists they built the Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon based on customer demand. Stevens says, “Since Transit Connect arrived here as the ‘ultimate tool’ for small business proprietors, we’ve heard requests from potential personal-use customers. Buyers looking for a taller wagon with seating for five passengers and generous cargo space have shown significant interest in Transit Connect.”
Maybe I’m missing something, but Ford’s already got a five seat crossover (the Edge) and a seven seat crossover (the Flex) in their product line. Both are specifically designed to haul people in comfort, where the Transit Connect is designed to haul up to 1,600 pounds of cargo, with passenger comfort and amenities being an afterthought. I’d have no issue in driving an Edge or Flex cross-country, but would have second thoughts about driving a Transit Connect cross-state.
Here’s what it really comes down to: the Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon starts at $23,200, while the Edge starts at $27,220 and the Flex at $29,075. Are there enough buyers of modest means (and modest expectations) looking for a boxy-but-good five passenger van? Can a commercial vehicle be dressed up enough to function as a semi-comfortable passenger car? Ford’s guessing that the answer to both questions is “yes”, but I’m not sure I’m convinced.