2014 Ford Transit Connect
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Review of: 2014 Ford Transit Connect XLT w/Dual Sliding Doors
2014 Ford Transit Connect: The original and still the best
By Jil McIntosh
Jul. 17, 2014
Back in 2010, Ford introduced Canadians to an entirely new segment, the compact cargo van, when it brought out the Transit Connect. Sure, we’d seen hatchbacks and minivans converted to panel sides and no seats, but this was different: built from the ground up for work. I thought it was great.
I’m just as enamored with the 2014 version, a completely new model that looks and performs better, comes in several window and door configurations, and is available as a cargo van or three-row, minivan-style passenger wagon. It starts at $28,699 for the XL van, while my tester was the top-line XLT, starting at $30,099. Mine was further optioned with an EcoBoost engine, along with a heated windshield, MyFord Touch with navigation, parking sensors, rearview camera, splash guards, six-way manual driver’s seat, and LED cargo light, for a total of $34,289 before freight and taxes.
The passenger wagons, meanwhile, have starting prices ranging from $30,499 in XL trim, to the highest-level Titanium at $35,699.
Pros & Cons
- + Doors
- + Driveability
- + Payload capacity
- - Touchscreen display
- - Road noise
- - Interior storage
There’s only so much you can do with a box, but while the old Transit Connect looked a little odd with its droopy profile and big square headlights, the new “TC” has a sleeker, car-like nose and even a bit of a rakish swoop to its roofline. I had panel sides, but you can also get windows.
My van had dual sliding doors and two rear doors, but you can also order it with just one slider, or with a rear liftgate. Those rear doors can open as far as 180 degrees, and what I really like is that when you go to shut them from that angle, you don’t have to mess with pulling or reinserting the hinge. Just give a tug, and they’re ready to close.
The Transit Connect now features Ford’s Easy Fuel system, which uses a sturdy valve in the filler neck instead of a fuel cap. I love this system: open the fuel door, insert the pump nozzle, and you’re good to go.
The cockpit looks more like a car than a work truck, with a sculpted dash and door pads, large centre stack, and stylized instrument cluster. All cargo vans come with manual air conditioning, keyless entry, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, driver’s side one-touch-down window, and front grab handles.
An overhead storage shelf above the windshield is standard, but overall, the Transit Connect could use more small-item storage cubbies. Other than the map pocket, or the cupholder if you don’t have a drink stuffed into it, there’s really no place to drop your phone or other small items, since the gearshift lever takes up most of the real estate between the front seats.
Of course that’s no issue in the back, where this van offers 3,700 litres (130.7 cubic feet) of cargo space. There’s 1,225 mm (48.3 inches) of floor between the wheel wells, inside height of 1,263 mm (49.7 inches), and if you fold the front passenger seat flat, you can carry items up to 2,969 mm (more than nine feet) long. Maximum payload is 780 kilograms (1,720 lbs.), and when properly equipped, it’ll tow 907 kg (2,000 lbs.).
You’ll definitely want to spend the $100 for the optional cargo light, which brightens the interior like daylight from a single LED fixture. If you have specific cargo needs, Ford works with a variety of suppliers for such aftermarket items as partitions, shelves, bins, refrigeration, and other items.
My van included a package, at $2,350, which added MyFord Touch, CD stereo, satellite radio, navigation, and backup camera. The backup camera is a must in a van—even if it has rear windows—but I’ve yet to make my peace with MyFord Touch.
This system divides the touch screen into four squares, which handle the phone, navigation, stereo, and climate settings. It’s better than when it was first introduced, but the areas you need to touch can be quite small—especially on the Transit Connect’s compact screen—which takes too much attention away from the road. If you’re not on smooth pavement, it can be tough to hit it precisely, as well. You can do much of it through voice commands or steering wheel controls too, but I’ve never seen the point in three redundant systems to run one that could be simpler. While I drove the van in hot weather and all worked fine, I’ve found MyFord Touch can be very slow to respond when the screen is cold.
The base engine is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder, but my van was optioned with a 1.6-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque; it costs $800 to add it. Both engines are mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The EcoBoost uses a small turbocharger to produce bigger-engine power when needed, while delivering smaller-engine fuel economy when you don’t need as much muscle. It’s officially rated at 9.4 L/100 km in the city and 6.7 on the highway, while in combined driving, I averaged 9.9 L/100 km. Despite being turbocharged, it runs on 87-octane regular-grade fuel.
The Transit Connect is a fine little trucklet for driving, with an overall feel that’s more minivan than work vehicle (Ford is aiming the three-row wagon as a minivan substitute, so it makes sense). It handles confidently and doesn’t feel tippy around turns, and the steering is well-weighted. You get more road noise inside than in the Nissan NV200, but this is a metal box on wheels, after all, so call it more of an observation than a criticism.
Having introduced the compact cargo segment, Ford is now watching it fill up. Nissan’s NV200 is considerably less expensive, starting at $22,748 in base S trim, and $23,898 for the upper-line SV trim; add another $800 for a technology package that adds navigation and a backup camera.
But the NV200 is less powerful; its payload is less, and its cargo volume is smaller than the Transit Connect’s. While it is considerably costlier than Nissan’s van, I thought the Ford was worth its money.
The segment’s going to get even busier in the next little while, as Ram will be bringing out its ProMaster City (a version of the Fiat Doblo sold overseas) , while GM will partner with Nissan on the Chevrolet City Express, a disguised version of the NV200. There’s no word on pricing yet for those, but expect them to be competitive.
While pint-sized work vans have always been big news overseas, it’s taken us a lot longer to catch on. But they make perfect sense: less expensive than a larger van, easier to fit into tight city corners, and most importantly, they use less fuel. They won’t be enough for everyone, but for a large number of lighter-duty businesses, they’re just the ticket—and the Transit Connect’s capacity and performance make it a must-consider in the segment.