TTAC - Ford Transit Connect

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Gas prices be damned; the Transit Connect screams success for many self-made citizens, provided they don’t carry more than 1600 lb or tow anything to bring home the bacon.

    [​IMG]

    By Sajeev Mehta
    July 30, 2009

    Down on the showroom floor, the guys talk about the “Needs-Payoff:” trying to turn a customer’s perceived need into a coveted sale. This marketing concept finds its Ford translation in the highly anticipated solution, the Transit Connect. The Blue Oval Boyz see gold in them there panel vans—assuming gas prices go north of the three dollar mark as their number crunchers and street-walking doom preachers predict. Gas prices be damned; the Transit Connect screams success for many self-made citizens, provided they don’t carry more than 1600 lb or tow anything to bring home the bacon.

    Aside from the droopy-lip front bumper, Ford’s cargo van (in XL trim) succeeds where the first Dodge Caravan “CV” failed: it’s elegantly utilitarian, not frumpy and cheap. The wicked fast A-pillar climbs above the door frames for a quirky dash of style, much to the wannabe-SUV Scion xB’s disappointment. In fact, I reckon the Transit does the vanning thing like the VW Microbus. Plus, I felt so cheeky and European just standing next to it.

    But automotive Mennonites rejoice, because there’s no mistaking a Transit Connect for a CUV. Hard but rich-grained plastics surround your fingers, there’s painted sheetmetal elsewhere. Ford threw in some retro masonite paneling on the rear doors for that unfinished art studio feel. Combined with the cargo’s rubber floor, RV-worthy overhead storage, perky seat fabrics and surprisingly high quality buttons and vent registers, the Transit Connect appeals to more than the ordinary work truck buyer.

    Not all is perfect: the center console with floor shifter is a waste of space, especially since it lacks an armrest for the passenger seat. But (optional) features like Ford’s laptop Work Solutions system makes sitting on the Transit Connect’s modest yet accommodating bucket seats better than a day spent in your average cubicle. And it’s reasonably fun to drive, much like today’s taller, fatter Ford Focus. No surprise then, the Transit Connect handles like a hot hatchback that’s taken an Octomom-like fancy for in-vitro fertilization.

    Unlike any other van, the Transit Connect corners flat in most situations, with stunning lateral grip and less push than expected from a nose heavy beast: I clipped a freeway underpass at twice the speed of our Ford Econoline tester, realizing the Transit Connect had plenty more.

    And just like the Focus, there’s a 2.0L Duratec I-4 and a four-speed slushbox under the hood. The gutsy and thrash-free four cylinder made for effortless merging on a Texas highway filled with larger hauling machines. An unladen Transit Connect moves at a decent clip, but the intimidation level rises considerably when reaching the van’s cargo limit: a small-bore motor takes time to build steam when a wide ratio gearbox keeps the revs down and out for the count. Europeans will find it immediately familiar, Americans will find it slightly annoying.

    So keep a loaded Transit Connect in the city and enjoy the ergonomics: the (optional) rear doors swing out 255° with the push of a button, and the mid section’s sliding doors open effortlessly, sans motorized assists. All 135 cubic feet of cargo space is easy to reach, and users shorter than six feet tall can walk inside without folding in half. If there’s enough space for a service tech and his storage shelving system back there, every other work vehicle is screwed. Sell your camper shell futures now!

    But nobody’s perfect: like every other portal on the Transit Connect, opening the hood requires the ignition key. Which means you have to turn off the van to get under the bonnet. And the hood’s latch/lock combo resides under the grille’s Ford Oval. Missed that in the owner’s manual? Fear not: the instructions are under the grille’s logo, where your less-than-attentive employees cannot find it. Unless the logo is misaligned like our tester, refusing to latch shut. Hey, Europe, what’s so bad about an in-cabin hood release?

    And the ignition key that opens everything is still in trouble. Lose it back beyond the radiator after opening the hood and Ford charges $200 for a replacement key, which you cannot buy anywhere but a FoMoCo dealer since it isn’t shared with another US-bound Ford product. Uh-oh.

    While the Transit Connect is influenced from the USA Ford parts bin, the lessons learned from the Dodge Sprinter are obvious: component cost, availability and downtime from poor dealer training/servicing can kill Dearborn’s latest, brightest idea. Eventually.

    If so, a comparable Econoline is only two grand more, and it’ll keep food on your plate if Ford turns this (showroom) hero into a (service department) zero. But let’s hope this gas-sipping global sensation gets the C-level Executive love it truly deserves, and, unlike the Ford Contour/Mondeo, meets its potential in the USA. If not, chalk up this idea with the rest of Ford’s famous American nameplates that bit the dust from corporate greed and product neglect. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    Review Summary

    PERFORMANCE:
    Moves effortlessly with no cargo: most noteworthy is the amazing turning radius.
    RIDE:
    Composed, well damped and absolutely peerless in this class.
    HANDLING:
    Vans shouldn’t carry this much speed while cornering this flat.
    EXTERIOR:
    Classes up any company logo.
    INTERIOR:
    Elegantly utilitarian for any business model, not supermodel.
    FIT AND FINISH:
    It’s better than good enough for government work.
    TOYS:
    The stereo sucks, even by Econoline standards.
    DESIRABILITY:
    Heavy loads aside, its reason enough to leave your cubicle and start your own business.
    MILEAGE:
    22/25
    PRICE AS TESTED:
    $21,475
    OVERALL:
    Treat, for now. Let’s measure downtime when small businesses take these out for servicing.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    THIS IS THE CAR THAT IS GOING TO SAVE FORD
     
  3. cheesesauce

    cheesesauce RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE

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    Why is this in American Muscle :rofl:
     
  4. August Burns

    August Burns New Member

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    I have zero need for one, but I want one.
     
  5. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    no shit

    ps more camaro pics go go go
     
  6. Bloke

    Bloke Banned

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    better than the sprinter?
     
  7. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    not even close... smaller, and quite a bit less power
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It's a Ford car. :dunno:
     
  9. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir WHM6D > *

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    I read this article when it was posted on TTAC, and I think it might be better than the Sprinter for many people. The article points out, and I agree, that there's a hole in our market that this thing fits perfectly. There are lots of small businesses that need a cheap, reliable, efficient delivery vehicle. Florists, pizza places, furniture stores- lots of places need a small runabout to drop off and pick up small items. Yeah, full size vans and the Sprinter kill this thing for big stuff, but this would be a killer vehicle for a lot of small businesses. Lower operating costs, lower buy-in, and all the functionality you need for many mom and pop operations.
     
  10. Smelly-Kitten

    Smelly-Kitten Dept. of Redundancy Department *Side Pipes

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    +1, the huge GMC van at my old work was awesomely big, and also gets like 14mpg
     
  11. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    fuck this thread
     
  12. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Alrighty then, moved to Trucks and SUV.
     
  13. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Ford had these out at Woodward this year, many of them customized like a Scion or other Asian box cars.
     
  14. GammaRadiation

    GammaRadiation Active Member

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    LOL at trailer axle in the rear.

    It has a huge market. Had this existed 5 years ago and my dad weren't so anti ford he would have gotten this for his business instead of the xB.
     

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