With Ford on the verge of canceling Ford Crown Victoria, the automaker has been looking for vehicles to fill the void in many of this car's more popular segments including police cars and taxi cabs. While the new Ford Explorer and Ford Taurus will be taking over police duties, it seems the small and spacious Ford Transit Connect will be Ford's new taxi cab. While taxi conversions were on display when the Transit Connect was introduced to the United States, one of the first production versions of the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi was display at the 2010 New England International Auto Show and will be delivered to a Boston taxi cab company by a Massachusetts Ford dealership.
One of the things that has made the Transit Connect so popular since its debut is its impressive cargo volume that allows for plenty of cargo and passenger space. In taxi versions, Ford said that the rear seat has been moved further toward the back to add more legroom, but according to the preliminary spec sheet, both models feature the same amount of rear-passenger legroom (38.5 inches). This could be a result of the divider that is found in most cabs, but the taxi does provide more hip and shoulder room. The five-passenger Transit Connect Tax also features added grab handles and special HVAC controls to help make the interior more accommodating for rear-seat occupants. Passenger volume and cargo volume are still the same at 132.1 cubic feet and 78.1 cubic feet, respectively. Changes were also made for the driver such as a rearview camera and back-up sensors, while the Transit Connect is much more upfitter friendly thanks to a heavy-duty battery and unique wiring connectors which both help make it easier to add interior electronics and exterior signage.
Some of these add-ons are intended to aid the driver such as radios and payment processing computer while the passenger compartment can be equipped with a rear information display to show everything from cab fares and navigation maps to news, weather and sports reports. All of this equipment would be installed by a third-party company.
'We're excited to see Transit Connect Taxi in service in Boston,'? said Kevin Koswick, director of Ford's North American Fleet Operations. 'Ford is committed to offering new solutions and maintaining our leadership as America's No. 1 taxi provider.'?
Compared to the Crown Vic or other large taxis, the Transit Connect Taxi also delivers improved fuel economy thanks to its small size and fuel-efficient engine. Ford's 2.0-liter inline-four produces 136 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque, but more importantly it returns an EPA estimated 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Equipped with an optional ($315) prep package for compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied propane gas (LPG), the Transit Connect Taxi would run cleaner and lower operating costs for taxi fleets. Despite its small-car size, the Transit Connect has plenty of power to haul around passengers and luggage with a maximum payload rated at 1,600 pounds.
While the taxis on display at the New England Auto Show are headed to taxi fleets in that area, the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi is currently available for order at any Ford dealership. Pricing hasn't been announced for the new taxi models, but it will probably be close to the price of the standard Transit Connect Wagon that starts at $23,050.