Transit Connect:

Ram Promaster City – MicroVan Workhorse

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First, it was the Ford Transit Connect van from Turkey that has been ubiquitous in Europe for years before being seen on American roads.  Small, styled with a brash quirkiness, tinny beyond imagination especially in taxi fleets, the Transit Connect caught on.  Then Ford replaced the original Transit Connect with a lower roof, more stylish van built in Spain that is actually fun to drive.  Nissan responded with the Nissan NV200 that is supposed to be the Taxi of Tomorrow for the New York City taxi fleet.  It is assembled in Mexico.  Not so fun to drive and assembled with more than a dollop of plastic.  Most recently is the launch of the Ram (FCA US LLC, aka FCAGroup, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Dodge Trucks) Promaster City.  How would I compare the three?

Ford Transit Connect Van

Ford Transit Connect Van

2015 Ram Promaster City

2015 Ram Promaster City

2014 Nissan NV200

2014 Nissan NV200

Transit Connect Most Minivan-Like  The Transit Connect ($22,330 – $29,185) is the most minivan-like.  It has a instrument panel that mimics that in the Ford Focus.  The seats are comfortable, but a choppy ride offsets the seat comfort.  Performance is adequate with its standard 2.5L 4-cylinder engine having 169-horsepower coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.  Optionally, the Transit Connect has a 178-horsepower EcoBoost 4-cylinder.  Transit Connect is available in two wheelbases.

NV200 Spartan  The Nissan NV200 ($20,270-$24,435 in cargo van version) is the most Spartan of the three.  Its interior has been stripped bare of most ornamentation and the execution yields the most basic of transportation modules.  A passenger version of the NV200 is not available unless you get the taxicab version starting at $29,700).  Powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission), the NV200 is the most anemic of the three.  Like the original Transit Connect, the NV200 can be a rattletrap.  That brings me to the Ram Promaster City.

Promaster City Best Driving Feel  Built in Turkey, the Promaster City ($23,130 for van version and $24,130 for the passenger version – maximum $29,275) probably falls between the Transit Connect and NV200 overall.  It does, however, have the best driving feel of the three.  The Promaster City is powered by the Fiat Tigershark 2.4L 4-cylinder engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.  Sounds like the Dodge Dart or Jeep Cherokee.  With much of the North American development work being done in the pothole-filled environs of Auburn Hills, Michigan, the Promaster City suspension has been beefed up and given more travel.  Promaster City also has a fully independent rear suspension.  The result is the ride comfort in the Promaster City is more comfortable in most conditions than the Transit Connect or the NV200.2015 Promaster City R342015 Promaster City Cockpit

The Battle for BIC – Best In Class:  Transit Connect and Promaster City are vying for Best In Class claims.  Promaster City claims best in class horsepower at 178-horsepower.  This is correct for base engines, but if you consider Ford’s EcoBoost at 178-horsepower you have a tie.  Promaster City has a fuel economy rating of 21mpg city/29mpg highway.  Transit Connect is 20/28mpg.  Promaster City claims the largest cargo volume at 132 cubic feet – Ford has 129 cubic feet in its long wheelbase van.  Promaster City claims the highest payload at 1883 pounds – Ford has 1620.  Its 48.4-inches between the rear wheelhouses allows you to put 4-foot wide materials flat on the rear load floor.  The 72-inch load floor length does not allow a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood to be transported enclosed, however.  So, Promaster City wins the brochure war and its base Tigershark engine and 9-speed automatic transmission edges out the Transit Connect, but it is very close.


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Nissan: NV200 Worth A Look For Commercial Van Shoppers

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541520120216_Nis_13_NV200_449

The Ford Transit Connect has been a sales success for Ford. Based on a Focus platform from many years ago, the Transit Connect was added to the U.S. lineup and was quickly showing signs of age. It had a four-speed automatic that made it wheeze and moan. The infotainment system was clunky, slow, and unusable. Nevertheless, Ford held a unique position by being the only automaker to offer a car-based commercial vehicle that was solely offered as a commercial vehicle.


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Analysis: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

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What if I told you you could buy a vehicle that had the capability to haul seven people, could hit at least 30 MPG on the highway, and had all of the creature comforts you would want, such as navigation and Bluetooth; would you buy it?  What if there was a catch?  Would sliding doors break the deal for you?  Would riding in a jazzed up cargo van send shivers down your spine?


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Ford Transit Connect – Niche Busting Van

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Ford Transit Connect F34.jpg

One of the most significant launches at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show was the 2010 Ford Transit Connect. This relatively small van is made by Ford of Europe in Turkey and will be shipped into the USA from the Middle East. The Transit Connect re-opens a niche that Ford and General Motors abandoned when they shut down their Aerostar/Astro/Safari vans. Remember, those were mid-size “minivans” that had rear wheel drive and were powered by V6 engines. Selling briskly at first, these vans eventually faded away.
Ford Transit Connect SV.jpg

Ford positions the Transit Connect as a commercial van designed for plumbers, florists, audio visual companies, etc. While the dual sliding doors come standard “blind” with no glass, they can be had with glass. It does not appear that Ford is going to offer a version with windows in the rear quarter panels which would open the Transit Connect up to being a “passenger van/minivan” rather than a commercial van.
Ford Transit Connect SV Open.jpg

Powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, the Transit Connect promises 19mpg in town and 24 on the highway. Certainly not earth shattering, but pretty good.
Having wondered for years why Ford did not import the Transit Connect to the USA, it took Ford Chairman Alan Mulally to break the roadblock created by Ford’s financial system to develop a strategy allowing Transit Connect to be positioned competitively in the USA. Transit Connect is a very good looking product that should do quite well once it hits the ground.
FORD TRANSIT CONNECT R34 OPEN.jpg

Now, Ford should introduce a passenger version with windows all around and two rows of seats (5-passenger only please).


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