It used to be that light-duty commercial vans were all pretty much alike – boxy, unexciting, and devoid of the kind of features we expect in our everyday vehicles. That all changed six years ago when Ford brought its European Transit Connect panel van to the States as an all-new offering on our shores. Thus began a trend that now finds compact commercial vans one of the hottest trends in the industry.
Starting at an approachable $22,675, today’s Ford Transit Connect is offered in cargo or wagon configurations and in both short- and long-wheelbase. Both carry a 1,620 pound payload capacity and tow up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped. The longer wheelbase model increases cargo capacity from the standard 104 cubic feet to 129 cubic feet. A choice of split rear cargo doors or a traditional rear liftgate is offered, with the split doors opening to 180 degrees. Twin sliding side doors are standard to enhance loading and unloading cargo or passengers. Needless to say, these are important features for delivery services and small business that must negotiate tight urban environs.
A base 169 horsepower, 2.5-liter Duratec four-cylinder engine powers the Transit Connect, with this engine now offering standard E85 flex-fuel capability in all but California emissions states. The flexible-fuel variant is capable of running on E85 (85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline), unleaded gasoline, or any blend of the two fuels. This engine can also be ordered for use with natural gas or LPG.
An optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine offers nine additional horsepower plus one additional mpg. The EcoBoost engine requires 93 octane fuel for peak performance. Both engines are coupled with a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. Depending on configuration and engine choice, city fuel economy is rated at 19-22 city mpg and 27-29 mpg on the highway.
The Transit Connect cargo van is available with optional second-row seating to increase versatility beyond cargo. The wagon version also features a versatile approach by delivering cargo capabilities along with five to seven passenger seating. It features more than 100 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded on the long-wheelbase model, plus the ability to carry a maximum 1,270 pound payload. All Transit Connect models feature first-row front and side airbags, first-row side curtain airbags, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Desired options are available including a rearview camera, 6.5-inch touch screen display with navigation, and SYNC with MyFord Touch, Ford’s voice-activated mobile communications and entertainment system. A perimeter alarm is included at no additional charge when available remote start is ordered. The perimeter alarm detects security threats through impact and shock sensors, activating an alarm to help protect vehicle contents. For fleets, Ford Telematics is also available to enable simultaneously monitoring several Transit Connects in real time, including location, speed, and excess idle duration to help track productivity and efficiency.