Ford builds a funky five-passenger multi-purpose hauler
As consumers, we’ve all been pitched on countless multi-purpose products. Oh, on the surface that late-night infomercial may appear to be hawking a big plastic ball, but keep listening and you’ll discover that you’re really looking at an all-in-one pillow, portable seat, exercise machine, and when dressed up using the optional black marker, a smiley-faced companion to keep you company on those (other) lonely nights.
The 2010 Ford Transit Connect Wagon falls into the same general category, though in this case we’re talking about a legitimate product. At its core, this rig is a cargo van, one offered as a light-duty, efficient alternative to the full-size E-Series. With the addition of a rear bench seat, the Transit would appear to be transformed into a five-passenger vehicle with a huge trunk, but in reality, Ford’s European-sourced utility van is designed for work, regardless of how many people buckle up inside. If that’s what you’re looking for, the 2010 Transit Connect delivers, albeit with disappointing fuel economy and refinement below that of Ford’s other new or redesigned models.
Ford offers its funky 2010 Transit Connect Wagon in two configurations: XLT and XLT Premium. Priced from $23,050, the lesser of the two versions comes equipped with the basic necessities of modern transportation, including five-passenger seating, a four-cylinder engine paired with an automatic transmission, antilock brakes, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a radio with a single-disc CD player and auxiliary input jack, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. A jump up to the Transit Connect XLT requires relinquishing at least $23,200, in exchange for which buyers get a finished cargo area that rids the interior of at least a bit of its worker van-ness.
Offsetting the relative dearth of standard amenities is a decent array of popular options, ranging from the extravagance of floor mats to the convenience of a key fob and remote start system.#9. Options are few, but noteworthy.
Interestingly, neither 2010 Ford Transit Connect Wagon model is available with an upgraded sound system, though shoppers can opt for increasingly popular Bluetooth connectivity. It’s a smart buy, especially given the number of states and municipalities that now only allow hands-free calling while driving. Other safety-related features made available by Ford include a rearview camera with a display in the interior mirror, and a rear parking sensor, something you’ll definitely appreciate in this boxy rig.
The Transit Connect Wagon can also be ordered with the voice-activated Ford Work Solutions technology, which turns the vehicle into a mobile office of sorts with its wireless keyboard, Internet access, and remote connection to your personal computer. More important to everyday drivers is the built-in navigation system.#8. Without rear seats, the name changes to Transit Connect Van.
Minus its navigation component, the Ford Work Solutions system is more at home in the 2010 Transit Connect Van, the worker bee of the lineup that’s available in XL and XLT trim designations. With its everyday-driver focus, we tested and will be evaluating the Wagon in this article, but it’s worth mentioning a few details about the git-r-done Van. Priced from $21,895, the XL offers air conditioning, a simple AM/FM radio and the rearview camera (a must when backing up a steel cube devoid of rear windows) but ditches niceties like power windows and rear seats. The $22,260 Transit Connect XLT Van proves a bit more hospitable with its power windows and door locks, cruise control, CD player, and body-color exterior trim.
Behind the varying levels of creature comforts is a two-passenger vehicle that delivers a 1,600-pound payload capacity and up to 130 cubic feet of cargo space.#7. Not a ride for wallflowers
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. That childhood lesson comes to mind as we think about the moment we first laid eyes on our bright red 2010 Ford Transit Connect Wagon tester. This evaluation took place in northern New England, where rides like this don’t exactly blend into the non-existent urban landscape. There’s no escaping the fact that the Transit’s design represents the epitome of function over form, even when Ford tosses in a rear split-bench seat and technically turns it into a family vehicle. If you like attention, and not necessarily of the positive variety, drive a Transit Connect outside the city limits.#6. Power is acceptable. Fuel economy is not.
Packed under the 2010 Ford Transit Connect Wagon’s hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that busts out 136 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. Those kind of figures don’t exactly qualify for heavy-hauler status, and unfortunately, EPA-rated fuel economy doesn’t serve to balance the equation. Drivers can expect to record 21 mpg around town, 26 mpg on the highway, and about 23 mpg in mixed driving. That’s better than you’d see with a larger crossover or van, but we expected more from a little front-driver drawing motivation from a four-banger.
Mated to the 2.0-liter engine is a four-speed automatic transmission, a likely contributor to the less-than-stellar fuel economy. Working behind the scenes is a suspension system comprised of MacPherson struts and leaf springs, while braking is addressed by front discs and rear drums. ABS is standard.#5. The Transit Connect Wagon makes the most of its little four-banger.
What’s it like to drive a box on wheels, you ask? Better than expected, actually. As its 136-horsepower rating suggests, the 2010 Transit’s four-cylinder engine won’t wow drives with its acceleration, nor with its lack of refinement. However, it is a rev-happy little mill that’ll build steam as long as you keep your foot in it, allowing for comfortable merging onto highways and, with a bit of preparation, moderately quick passing. At more leisurely paces around town, Ford’s imported people and cargo transporter offers sufficient punch via its responsive throttle. The rather antiquated four-speed transmission gets the job done, though its frequent gear hunting and noticeable shifts had us wishing for a modern unit with a few more cogs and smoother operation.
Once underway, the Transit Connect provides steering tuned a bit on the light side and promising little in terms of road feel. While traveling along sweeping roads within New Hampshire’s White Mountains – at or below the posted speed limit – the chassis delivered a firm and loud ride, yet the Transit remained composed over bumps. The harsh, somewhat bouncy experience we expected from our unladen test vehicle never materialized.#4. Comfort is OK, but not the Transit Connect's strongest attribute.
As was the case in terms of performance, the 2010 Ford Transit Connect Wagon’s level of comfort was surprising, if only due to our admittedly low expectations. Regardless of whether a buyer is interested in this model for people- or cargo-hauling duty, the driver’s seat is guaranteed to get the most use. With that in mind, designers included a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a manual height adjustment, and a fold-down armrest that’s conspicuously absent from the passenger’s seat. Those front chairs are stiff and flat, though even after a long day of driving and hiking our editor and his girlfriend were no worse for wear upon returning home (but she wasn’t really happy about going without her own center armrest).
Access to the rear split bench seat is made easy with the Transit’s sliding doors, just don’t plan on tapping a button to actuate automatic opening and closing. Once you’re in, your backside will meet up with a flat and firm surface.
#3. Yup, there's a ton of space inside. And simple controls.
Our 2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT Wagon was all business behind the seats, with only a few plastic interior panels and lots of exposed shiny red sheet metal. The rear barn-style doors open wide, and the low cargo floor makes for easy loading. Of course, we only used that space for some backpacks, but we got the idea. Behind the rear seat is 78.4 cubic feet of room; tumble and fold the rear seats forward and that figure jumps to 118.7 cubic foot (the Van offers about 130 cubic feet). Buy a Transit and you’ll likely become the go-to guy or gal for anyone and everyone in need of some moving assistance.
Shift focus to the passenger area and you’ll find storage provisions that include door pockets, cubbies atop and below the instrument panel, a couple of cupholders, and a parcel shelf over the driver and front passenger’s heads. The Transit’s primary controls are mind-numbingly simple, with a few dials for the climate system and, as a reminder of this vehicle’s global platform, center-mounted power window switches.#2. There are times when an interior full of hard plastics makes sense.
Typically, we applaud the generous application of soft-touch materials and tactilely pleasing textures when discussing a vehicle’s interior. Things change when the topic of discussion is a work vehicle, owners of which prioritize durability over luxury. Such is the case with the 2010 Ford Transit Connect, home to hard plastic panels galore, commercial-grade fabric upholstery, and rubber mats and flooring laid where most cars and trucks would feature carpet.
Collectively, these bits and pieces make the Transit’s interior feel cold instead of cozy, but that works in this application. Even with a rear bench seat, this Ford is a worker at heart, with a cabin that can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth.#1. The Transit Connect Wagon works for van buyers occasionally in need of a few extra seats.
After getting over the initial shock of having a boxy red van, er, wagon, show up for a week-long evaluation, the 2010 Ford Transit Connect started to grow on us, and not in a unpleasant, fungal way. Admittedly, we never became completely comfortable with vehicle’s conspicuousness, but the Transit’s simplicity became more evident and appreciated. The engine is willing, if a bit raucous, the front seats sufficiently comfortable, the primary controls intuitive, and the copious cargo space easily accessed. Sure, Ford could refine the powertrain – and improve fuel economy in the process – but for the niche of shoppers who want a ride that marries the benefits of a panel van with a five-passenger family vehicle, the 2010 Transit Connect Wagon exists as a viable option. If, on the other hand, you expect the relatively polished feel of a mainstream crossover, save your time and cross this one off your list.