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

In the back, I found the rear seats were too close to the front seats and legroom suffered as a result. This being a work truck, it makes sense to design it this way, as passenger comfort should come second to cargo-carrying capacity in this primarily commercial-use vehicle. The interior features a very simple and utilitarian feel throughout and there is no mistaking that this van is all business. A hard, flat rubber floor runs the length of the vehicle and is washable for easy clean up. The front seats are comfortable and you sit upright in the airy cabin. Considering how hollow the vehicle is, it is not too loud inside, either, which was a pleasant surprise.

All versions of the 2012 Transit Connect come with 205/65R15 tires mounted to steel wheels with plastic covers. In case your travels take you to the seventh level of hell, Ford has you covered. No one will tamper with your fuel tank or engine since the gas cap and hood release can be opened up only with the ignition key. The hood requires a back and forth motion that pops the hood and then unlocks the hood release.

Underneath the locked hood resides a 2.0L four-cylinder engine producing 136 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Although this may sound like old tech (which it is), it helps keep the price down at an entry-level MSRP of $25,799. The engine has decent power and can move the 1,589-kg van with ease. Around town you wouldn’t be left wanting more “oomph” from the engine, especially if the cargo hold contains fragile cargo inclined to slide around under minimal G-forces. On the highway though, physics rears its ugly head. Even on the most moderate of freeway inclines the engine needs to downshift to maintain triple digit speeds, and then holds a steady 4,000 or so rpm until the terrain levels out again.

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

Surely this did nothing for my observed fuel mileage of 10.5 L/100 km, which is pretty good for a gasoline powered commercial vehicle, but nowhere near the fantasy-based Natural Resources Canada estimates of 9.6 L/100 km city and 7.4 L/100 km highway. Part of the reason the engine needs to downshift early and often has to do with the low engine speed when cruising. At 100 km/h the four-banger is lazily humming along at 2,350 rpm and only reaches 2,800 rpm by 120 km/h. When the engine does spring to life, though, it is loud but makes a pleasant, almost sporty noise.

A major concern for potential Transit Connect owners would be how it performs near its weight limit, having a mere 138 hp to play with. I hauled roughly 275 kg of stones in the back of the Transit Connect, which is just over 1/3 of its 727-kg payload limit. The Ford was still as poised with the added weight and not that noticeably slower both around town and on the highway.

The fact that the Transit Connect is based on a compact car shines through in its handling. Overall, it handles surprisingly well and can be pushed far harder into a corner than you would ever want to if it was full of tools or goods (or even people). Although tall and skinny, this van is not that susceptible to high crosswinds. I drove it on two very windy days and although it would shake back and forth at times, it would never try to make unsolicited spontaneous lane changes.

With all of these benefits, could someone use the Transit Connect as a family car in lieu of a normal minivan, mini-minivan, or crossover? Most likely, no. At least not until these units begin to show up as killer used vehicle deals. However, if you have a small business, are a tradesperson or a delivery driver and have a family, this van could be right for you. Without the rear seats, the Transit Connect is a serious work vehicle. Throw in the rear seats on Friday and you have a family hauler ready for a weekend getaway. Plus, if the dog gets sick it is only a power washer away from being clean again.

Pricing: 2012 Ford Transit Connect XLT Wagon
  • Base price: $28,499
  • Options: $1,260 (Rear-view camera ($510), all-weather floor mats ($100), Engine Block Heater ($100), heated windshield defroster ($200), reverse park aid ($250), splash guards ($100))
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,500
  • Price as tested: $31,359

    Specifications
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Ford Transit Connect

    Competitors
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Chevrolet Express
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Ford E-Series
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 GMC Savana
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Nissan NV
  • 2012 Ram Cargo Van

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
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