Autotropolis 2010 Truck of the Year: Ford Transit Connect
It's not often that a vehicle destined primarily for commercial fleets is nominated for an award, so it was a little surprising when the 2010 Ford Transit Connect kept popping up on the short list of vehicles for our 2010 Truck of the Year. Yes, we realize the Ford Transit Connect isn't really a truck since it rides on a platform shared with the compact Ford Focus, but its interior size and intended purpose essentially makes it a crossover work vehicle. Standing out as the top vehicle among pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossovers, our editorial staff has named the Ford Transit Connect the 2010 Autotropolis Truck of the Year.
After driving the Transit Connect back in August, it was clear that this wasn't just a boring work vehicle. As it turns out, Ford's newest addition to its fleet of commercial vehicles was designed to be as fuel efficient as it was versatile. For this reason, Ford's newest little work van beat out some big names added to the truck and crossover world for 2010 including the Volvo XC60, Cadillac SRX, Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the Lexus RX. The 2010 Ford Transit Connect is available as either a two-passenger van or up to a five passenger wagon in two possible trim levels (XL and XLT) with a starting MSRP of $20,780.
Carrying the kinetic design language from Ford's European vehicles, the Transit Connect also adds a familiar face that will be matched by upcoming vehicles such as the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus, and its European roots are even more apparent when looking at the Dodge Sprinter. The Transit Connect is designed to be a more practical alternative to full-size vans so it offers a low step in height, dual sliding side doors like a minivan, a tall roofline to maximize cargo capacity and rear doors that can swing open up to 255 degrees. Helping to make the Transit Connect easy to drive, its small stature provides excellent maneuverability while the large front and side windows deliver great visibility.
The squared-off roofline indicates the Transit Connect's work-ready purpose, but unlike most work vehicles, the Transit Connect offers a spacious cabin and a multitude of high-tech features. Seeing as how the Ford Transit Connect is likely to spend most of its time on the job, Ford offers it with high-tech devices such as a navigation system that comes with an SD slot as well as a USB port, but the innovative part is that it doubles as an in-dash computer with Internet abilities. As for passenger comfort, there is almost an endless amount of headroom, while the seats are surprisingly supportive for a work-ready vehicle. Some of the more thoughtful features available on the Transit Connect include a tit and telescoping steering column, an overhead storage bin and a reverse sensing system. In addition to maximum cargo volume of 135 cubic feet, the 2010 Ford Transit Connect also has a maximum payload of 1,600 pounds.
The styling and cavernous interior were already enough to make the Ford Transit Connect a noticeable vehicle on the market, but its efficient and peppy engine made it an easy choice for our truck of the year. Under the short hood, the Transit Connect uses a 2.0-liter Duratec inline-4 that produces 136 horsepower and, more importantly, gets an EPA estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway making it one of the most fuel-efficient work vehicles on the market. Making things even better, Ford says that it will introduce a battery electric vehicle version of the Transit Connect starting next year for fleet use, and this technology will eventually trickle down to an EV version of the next-generation Ford Focus.
Autotropolis congratulates Ford as we name the new Transit Connect our 2010 Truck of the Year.