With a few running changes for the 2011 model year, the Ford Transit Connect van enters its second year on the market aimed primarily at small businesses, with a few sales to ordinary household users in the mix.
The Transit Connect was new to the U.S. in the 2010 model year, though the Turkish-built van has been on sale in Europe for a couple of years. Only slightly modified for the American market, the Transit Connect is a utility vehicle in the most utilitarian sense, with styling only an appliance enthusiast could love, and a rugged--almost commercial-grade--interior that counts on flexibility more than fit and finish to sell it.
The five-passenger van is powered by a 136-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It's mated to a four-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, an arrangement also found in the Ford Focus. It's not miserably slow, but just sufficient for city duty. Midrange acceleration is good, as are fuel economy of 22/25 mpg, and the brakes (discs in front, drums in the rear), which include anti-lock control. An electric version is being developed, but is an outsourced project intended mostly for fleet use.
Handling is benign, though the tall Transit Connect scores points for its maneuverability on city streets--a tight turning circle and and wheels placed near the corners help greatly in this regard.
With 135 cubic feet of cargo space, the Transit Connect is a spacious carrier for all sorts of goods--and Ford markets add-ons for owners to configure the cargo area to their specific needs.
The Transit Connect has dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes and stability control. Visibility can be an issue, since only the passenger versions (sold as Wagons) have glass windows to the rear. The old-style double doors at the tail blot out some of the rearward view, too.
With a workhorse mission in mind for the Transit Connect, Ford hasn't fitted as many of its newest techno features to the van. The Bluetooth-controlled SYNC system isn't offered, though Bluetooth itself is.
This year's changes to the van include new packages for taxi use; preparations for compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid propane gas (LPG) versions, and an XLT Premium Wagon trim level with minor trim updates.
For an in-depth look at this van, read our most recent full review of the Ford Transit Connect.