Steering is a very nicely weighted, well-sorted electric-boost rack-and-pinion system, while brakes are four-wheel discs across the model line. If it weren't for the marvelous Mazda 5
, a vehicle that manages to drive every bit as well as a small hatchback, we'd call the Transit Connect Wagon the lightest-driving van. Base curb weight for the seven-passenger version is nearly 4,000 pounds, but we would have guessed hundreds less.
From a purely practical standpoint, the Transit Connect gets business done. Front seats (and this nearly 6'7" editor) could use a few more inches of rearward travel, but it's perhaps a good thing they don't go back farther. I had the front seat back all the way, and I couldn't get the curved, thicker portion of the side pillar out of my peripheral vision—although in all fairness, it never got in the way of visibility. Otherwise the front area feels, as in the Ford Escape, like the interior of a small car but elevated several inches—and with the raised roof on every model, most drivers will have a foot of space, perhaps more, above their head.
Impressive for people or cargo
In three-row versions, the back-seat arrangement is impressive, whether your context falls amongst crossovers, minivans, or unminivans. A second row is split 60/40 and is generously sized to fit adults; it has seatbacks that flip forward, then the entire seat folds forward and then deep into the floorwell with a continuous motion that you could pull off with one arm for the smaller portion. The twin third-row seats can jockey fore and aft a few inches, while they fold flat and an extending shelf allows the cargo floor to be perfectly flat with everything in place. The only thing missing is that the cargo floor then includes some weak points that smaller items (or pet paws) could wedge into.
With wide-opening sliding doors on either side, plus a huge cargo opening, the Transit Connect Wagon is shockingly easy to load or reconfigure; adding to that convenience is that this vehicle rides pretty much at car height—so you don't have to step up first, as in many crossover vehicles. You can choose between a setup with a one-piece lift-up hatchback or dual side-hinged rear doors; unless you're height-limited (by a garage door, for instance), we like the hatchback setup best for its easy load opening—and for the lack of another visibility-obstructing pillar in the middle.
The pick for spaciousness, not high payload or towing
What’s not to like about the Transit Connect? As we see it, those who look closely at things like payload and towing numbers might show up short. The tow rating on the Transit Connect Wagon is just 2,000 pounds—and that's with the Tow Package, which is not available with our favorite engine, the 1.6-liter EcoBoost. As for payload, it only ranges up to 1,270 pounds. That's impressive by base pickup standards, and a few hundred pounds more than a typical passenger car; but get five heavy occupants in the Transit Connect, and you're already there: No cargo for you.