Test Drive: 2010 Ford Transit Connect

Ford has scored a huge win with the new 2010 Transit Connect. This funky-cool and infinitely adaptable vehicle is fun to drive and economical to buy – so much that it is breaking the boundary between commercial and personal vehicles.

Commercial vehicles are known for being bare-bones models – not much fun to drive, but reliable. When people want a vehicle for their own driveways, they tend to choose something with a little more flair and creature comfort.

The Transit Connect is certainly a basic vehicle, but Ford got the basics just right, and so the Transit Connect has become the hot new car for urban and suburban families as well as for the businesses that need an economical delivery and service van.

Over the course of the last 26 years, the ubiquitous Minivan has gone from a bare-bones family wagon to a luxurious SUV-like vehicle, often priced at a premium unattainable to many families. If you have to have DVD screens in the seatbacks and TV reception on the road, you can get that in a traditional minivan now. But if you want to spend between $21,000 and $23,000 for a utility wagon that gets 22/25 MPG, you’re looking at the Transit Connect.

The Transit Connect offers 135 cubic feet of cargo capacity and a 1600 pound carrying capacity, and you can configure the vehicle with a rear seat for three, or with shelves, sliders, and the whole array of commercial add-ons. The seats you get are basic, but comfortable. The dashboard includes GPS navigation, a built-in computer for commercial applications – you can even plug in a keyboard and printer and use the navigation screen as the display!

Word processing, spreadsheet, calculator and calendar applications are all included. Additional applications include downloading customer or product information, remotely accessing an office work station computer, sending and receiving text messages, navigating job or delivery locations with the Garmin navigation function and connecting with customers via hands-free phone functionality. The in-dash computer runs the Windows CE 6.0 operating system. With optional wireless subscriptions, the system can provide users with Internet access, remote document access and Garmin Online services such as traffic, weather and fuel prices.

You get a sliding door on both sides of the vehicle, and rear barn doors that open out 180 degrees (or more) for fantastic access to the high-roofed cargo area. You can get your Transit Connect with mats instead of carpet (sweet music for families and people with pets) and of course it comes with all the usual amenities like cruise control and air conditioning. You even get a nice little storage shelf up above the front seats.

Driving the Transit Connect is a complete giggle. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine delivers 136 peppy horsepower and the little van moves out quickly and confidently. The 4-speed automatic transmission is tight and geared right for the car. The Transit Connect drives like a sporty little hatchback, and you get 22 MPG in the city and 25 on the highway.

Base price on the 2010 Ford Transit Connect is just $21,475, with most options (except the computer) costing under $100. Rear and rear-side glass is optional. If you bought every possible option, you couldn’t make a Transit Connect cost more than about $25,000.

The bottom line on the 2010 Ford Transit Connect is that I didn’t want to give it back when my week was done. I loved driving it, loved the looks I got from other drivers, and I kept thinking of ways this vehicle could be useful to me. I am sure someone will start modifying these rigs for camping soon, if they haven’t already, and that you’ll be seeing the Transit Connect in your neighborhood soon – why not in your driveway?


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