Ford Transit Connect: Euro Van Meets Apple Pie
- October 22, 2010
- Ford, New Model Introductions, On The Road: Driving Impressions
- Posted by Dave Sullivan
- 2 Comments
According to Wikipedia, “white van man” is a usually pejorative stereotype used in the United Kingdom to describe drivers of light commercial vehicles such as the Ford Transit. Such vehicles are commonly painted white in order to facilitate easy sign-writing on the paneled sides. The stereotype represents the drivers of such vehicles as having poor driving skills and / or an aggressive and inconsiderate manner. The stereotypical “white van man” is often self-employed or the owner of a small business such as builder, carpenter, or plumber. For one week I was able to play the part in a 2010 Ford Transit Connect.
My dishwasher passed away a few days before a Transit Connect was due to arrive for a week. I didn’t check the option box for the $70 delivery in hopes that the Transit Connect would be able to fulfill my need. I showed up to the warehouse and went to the front desk to check in and they asked what type of vehicle I had. When I said it was a Transit Connect I could have said rocket ship or Bugatti Veyron W16 Super Sport and probably received the same reaction which was a blank stare like I wasn’t speaking English. No one had ever seen this vehicle before or had a clue what it was. I realized then that the Transit Connect is really the hidden gem in Ford’s commercial line-up. Oh, and it picked up the dishwasher with ease!
Most people probably wouldn’t get too excited about driving a cargo van for a week. Well, I was. The Transit Connect is the first European Ford since the Scorpio and XR4Ti that hasn’t been completely worked over for those of us on this side of the pond. Sure, it has been “federalized” with legal headlights, bumpers, and center high mount stop lamp, but the rest remains unchanged. Americans have been left out on so many of Ford’s great European products in the past, so the Transit Connect is a welcome addition to Ford’s U.S. lineup. The Ford E-Series cargo vans could be considered part of the baby boomer generation because they are so old and the Transit Connect is the Euro-hip, spunky, little sidekick to the E-Series. It is zippy, handles better than any van on the market today, and has great fuel economy. I was averaging 22 MPG with no load in the back. The EPA claims you should see 22 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the motorway.
The Transit Connect is a strange vehicle for Americans because most have never seen anything like it. The Transit Connect originated as the Courier in Europe and was introduced in 2002 as the Transit Connect to replace the aging Fiesta-based Courier. It’s based on the Ford Focus that has been on sale in the U.S. for the last ten years. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Transit Connect has a low floor and a high ceiling allowing easy loading of items, such as dishwashers. The ceiling is so high you could wear a top hat while you drive and still have plenty of room. I liked the “mom’s attic” storage nook in the ceiling above the front seats for storing items that need to be within a long arm reach. I also had the Ford Work Solutions computer and tool tracking system installed on this vehicle. I didn’t have the best experience with the computer unit. The USB plug doesn’t read iPods or any music devices and while on a conversation over the Bluetooth phone system, the “blue screen of death” hit the Windows CE-based navigation head unit and my call was dropped. Yikes! Stick with the standard radio until the bugs are worked out of this unit.
The model I had for a week didn’t have windows on the rear or sliding doors. This really caused a visibility issue because there was no rear view camera or blind spot mirrors but hey, this is a cargo van. Windows are an option for the rear and sliding doors.
The Transit Connect is a front-wheel drive vehicle so the payload is limited in order to keep the front wheels on the ground but for everyday light duty such as a florist or handyman, this is a perfect vehicle. If you suffer from withdrawl since your VW Eurovan died, you’re in luck. The Transit Connect can also be had with a rear seat to haul your more precious cargo, your kids but expect any rear curtain airbags on the safety list.
The FWD van market is heating up. Nissan and Chrysler/Fiat are expected to bring new vans with similar dimensions to the Transit Connect to market in the near future. Ford and Nissan are working on electric versions as well. Is there enough of a market for all of these vans? Only time will tell but the Transit Connect offers the best of both worlds with great cargo capability and excellent fuel economy which is important to any fleet operator watching their costs today. The Transit Connect is a great dishwasher delivery vehicle for anyone that wants to be a white van man.