Test Drive: 2012 Ford Transit Connect reviews ford trucks car test drives
2012 Ford Transit Connect. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Michael Schlee

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2012 Ford Transit Connect

Sometimes a vehicle comes to market and you think, “Wow, that just makes sense.” That was my feeling upon receiving the 2012 Ford Transit Connect Wagon. Here it is; the perfect vehicle for a small business owner with a family. It features seating for five and cargo capacity through the roof (literally) in a nice, relatively small, efficient package.

The darling of European delivery services for years, the Transit Connect finally made its way over to our shores in 2011. Now in its second year on the market, this van offers a unique solution to small business owners in Canada. It is smaller than a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Nissan NV, it is less truck-ish than a Chevrolet Express or Ford E-Series, yet it is still a no-compromises, high-roof commercial van unlike the Ram Cargo Van or discontinued Chevrolet HHR Panel.

Based on a modified 2000–2011 Ford Focus platform, the Transit Connect is a front-wheel-drive compact cargo van available in two-seat (Cargo) or five-seat (Wagon) configurations. For easy access to the cargo area, the van features two sliding side doors and double barn doors on the rear. The side doors, rear quarter panels, and rear doors can be had with either windows or metal panels. In the USA, there is a 25 percent tariff on imported light trucks, so to avoid this tax Ford officially imports all of its Transit Connect vans as “passenger vehicles”. This means every North American Transit Connect is sent over from Turkey with rear windows, rear seats and rear seatbelts attached. If the vehicle is to be sold as a Wagon model, it is left alone. If it is to be sold as a Cargo, it is modified in Baltimore where the rear windows are replaced with metal panels and the rear seats are removed. Strangely, the no-modifications-required Wagon version of the Transit Connect actually has a higher MSRP than the reworked Cargo version.

Test Drive: 2012 Ford Transit Connect reviews ford trucks car test drives
Test Drive: 2012 Ford Transit Connect reviews ford trucks car test drives
2012 Ford Transit Connect. Click image to enlarge

I received the Wagon XLT edition for review. Since it was a five-seater, my test van had side and rear windows, but lacked the rear quarter-panel windows available on the Wagon XLT Premium trim. The Wagon XLT comes standard with a tilt steering wheel, power front windows, CD player, overhead front storage bins, four-speaker stereo and a 60/40 split bench with three individual contoured seats. Additional options added to my test van included a rear-view camera, all-weather floor mats, block heater, heated windshield defroster, reverse parking aid, and mud flaps, which brought the van to an as-tested price of $29,889.

The Transit Connect looks the part of a European vehicle and I had more than one passerby comment on its sleek Euro looks. At 2,014 mm tall, the Transit Connect is very tall for its narrow track and short wheelbase. So tall, in fact, that I drove into a parking garage ceiling within 30 minutes of picking it up from Ford. Blame a bad metric to imperial conversion on my part that left me roughly 2 inches “short” on ceiling clearance. But when life tosses me lemons, I make lemonade; the Transit Connect passes the slow speed roof crumple test with flying colours – no dents received and only one minor major scraping of the roof-mounted third brake light.

This height does lead to an impressive amount of cargo capacity. With a low 587-mm load-floor height, the Transit Connect is capable of holding 2,220 L of cargo with the rear seats up, 3,361 L with the rear seats folded down, or a massive 3,670 L with the rear seats removed. Inside there is 1,364 mm of cargo height, which feels immense from the driver’s seat. For the first time in my memory I was able to reach my lanky arms upward and not touch the ceiling. If House of Pain came on the radio and I want to throw my arms up in the air like I just don’t care, well, I can.

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