2015 Ford Transit Connect

The Ford Transit Connect is a small commercial van aimed largely at business owners and fleet operators. Also offered as a passenger-oriented van dubbed Transit Connect Wagon that can accommodate up to seven adults, the Transit Connect was born in Europe and brought over to the United States as part of the Blue Oval's "One Ford" global strategy.

The Transit Connect boasts a sleek look that falls in line with Ford's Kinetic design language. Its front end is characterized by elongated headlights, a rippled hood and a hexagonal air dam, while the rear end gains vertical lights and twin doors that can open up to 270 degrees. Pronounced wheel arches on all four corners reveal a relatively wide track and make the van look bigger than it truly is.

Ford offers the Transit Connect in two wheelbase lengths. The short-wheelbase model stretches 173.9 inches long and 75.2 inches wide; the longer variant checks in at 189.7 inches long and 72.8 inches tall. Both models are 72.2 inches wide.

Life Aboard
The Transit Connect boasts a car-like interior with a sculpted dashboard, vertical air vents and a raised center console dominated by the shift lever. The instrument cluster consists of four analog gauges, and the steering is commanded through a four-spoke wheel.

Ford's Bluetooth-based SYNC connectivity system allows smartphone users to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.

Ford's MyFord Touch infotainment system infotainment system is available on select models at an extra cost. MyFord Touch builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyFord Touch also replaces conventional sound system knobs and buttons with a center-mounted 6.5-inch touchscreen and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the Transit Connect are advised to try before they buy.

The long-wheelbase panel van can accommodate up to 130.6 cubic feet of cargo behind the front seats, a number that can grow to 151 by folding down the front passenger seat. The short-wheelbase van's numbers check in at 105.9 and 126.9 cubic feet, respectively.

Properly equipped, the Transit Connect is capable of hauling up to 1,710 pounds and towing a maximum of 2,000 pounds.

Trim Level Breakdown
Ford offers the Transit Connect in XL and XLT trim levels.

XL models come standard with manual air conditioning, remote keyless entry, a 12-volt outlet in the center console, vinyl floor covering, an overhead storage compartment, an adjustable steering wheel, an AM/FM stereo with an input jack, a grey front bumper and 16-inch steel wheels with plastic hubcaps.

Stepping up to the XLT model adds cruise control, Ford's MyKey system, carpet in lieu of the aforementioned vinyl, a premium center console, two map lights, vanity mirrors in the sun visors, a message center integrated into the instrument cluster, a CD player, power mirrors, a six-way adjustable driver's seat, a body-colored front bumper and alloy wheels.

The list of option includes all-weather floor mats, an electric rear-window defroster, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a day/night rear-view mirror, a rear-view camera, a USB port, Ford's SYNC connectivity system and active grille shutters. XLT buyers can also order a dual-zone climate control unit, a 6.5-inch touch screen and rain-sensing wipers.

Under the Hood
The Transit Connect's base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Duractec that makes 169 horsepower at 6,000 rpms and 171 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpms. Fuel mileage varies depending on how the van is configured but it hovers in the vicinity of 21 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Buyers looking to trim their fuel budget can order the van with a compressed natural gas/liquefied petroleum gas engine prep package that consists of hardened valves, valve seats pistons and rings. Once the van is built, it is sent to a Ford Certified Vehicle Modifier that installs CNG/LPG-specific fuel tanks, fuel lines and fuel injectors.

The Transit Connect can be ordered with an optional direct-injected 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-banger that churns out 178 horsepower at 5,700 rpms and 184 lb-ft. of torque at just 2,500 rpms. Fuel mileage has not been published yet, but Ford warns the EcoBoost can only burn premium gasoline.

Both engines send power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

Occupant Safety
All Transit Connects regardless of trim level come standard with dual front, side and curtain airbags and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The list of driving aids includes electronic emergency brake assist, hill-start assist and Ford's AdvanceTrac stability control with Roll Stability Control

Key Competitors
The compact van segment in the United States is growing but it is still a rather small segment. The Transit Connect's main rivals include the slightly larger Nissan NV200 and the Grand Caravan-based Ram Cargo Van.