What it is
2010 Ford Transit Connect – 2008 Chicago Auto Show: Much like the traditional soccer mom, many business owners find themselves driving vehicles that are much larger than their needs dictate. But unlike those dwellers of suburbia, the proprietor is paying for the maintenance and fuel for a full-sized van not necessarily by choice but rather because of a lack of smaller and relatively efficient alternatives. Ford aims to address that dilemma when it launches the Transit Connect in mid-2009. With its small size, 143 cubic feet of cargo room, configurable interior, and 2.0-liter engine that’s estimated to return 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, the Turkey-built Transit should meet the needs of city-dwelling entrepreneurs everywhere.
What It Looks Like
When it hits U.S. streets in 2009, the Ford Transit Connect will certainly stand alone. It has the face of a Ford sedan with Fusion-like headlights, but behind that the large windshield rises to meet a high roof that extends over the cargo area. Sliding doors on each side can be all steel or fitted with glass panels, the rear doors open to 270 degrees, and the overall footprint is similar to that of a small car. The interior of the models on display at the Chicago Auto Show were rather drab (perfect for a business van), with hard yet seemingly durable plastics and basic manually-adjusted bucket seats.
What Ford Says
According to Ford’s vice president of Global Product Development, Derrick Kuzak, “Ford Transit Connect is built on a dedicated, commercial vehicle platform to meet the rigors business use demands. This workhorse is like nothing available today in the American market.” He goes on to explain, “More than ever before, consumers are making the bulk of their purchases from the Internet and smaller, specialty businesses, which is increasing the volume of small package deliveries. Transit Connect is ideally suited to meet those delivery needs because of its flexible package, compact size and fuel-efficient powertrain. It will make the delivery process for small business owners easier and more affordable.”
What We Think
Styling-challenged and bare-bones may not be the way to go with personal cars, but we think these traits make a lot of sense for small work vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect. How quickly the Transit catches on remains to be seen, but it’s already got at least two things going for it – it’s bigger than the equally ugly Scion xB, and it offers a lot more versatility than the Chevrolet HHR Panel Van. However, if the Transit Connect just doesn't meet your needs, fret not -- there's always the 2008 Ford F-650/Alton Manufacturing XUV, with a Caterpillar engine and price tag of roughly $190,000, that should haul, pull, or utterly destroy anything you could think of.
By Thom Blackett
Photos courtesy of: Ford