2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT
2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2010 Ford Transit Connect

I recently offered to help my daughter and her boyfriend move. Rats.

No, I mean real rats: as in Stewie and Percy. This beady-eyed pair, who share accommodations with Angela and Geoff, rate a bit higher than Billy bookcases and cardboard boxes, so they got the coveted shot-gun position in my 2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT as we negotiated the alleys and a streets of downtown Toronto.

But you really shouldn’t say “alley” or “shot-gun” in front of domesticated rats; or “sewer”. They’re a little sensitive.

As it turned out, Ford’s compact Euro-panel van, which makes its North American debut this year and won the 2010 North American Truck of the Year award, proved a worthy vehicle for the job. Built in Turkey on a highly-reinforced Focus platform, this diminutive dromedary manoeuvres through the cityscape like a… er, rat through a maze.

2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT
2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT. Click image to enlarge

The idea of a fuel-efficient compact inner-city commercial vehicle is so achingly obvious I’m surprised we haven’t seen them here before. Since its launch in 2003, Ford has sold over half a million of these abroad.

The front-drive Transit is powered by a 136-horsepower Duratec 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine coupled to a four-speed automatic tranny. Peak torque of 128 lb.-ft. arrives at 4,750 r.p.m. Official fuel economy figures are 9.5 L/100 km city (30 mpg) and 7.9 L/100 km highway (36 mpg).

The base panel van lists at $27,229; a model with windows in the sliding side doors and a split-folding three-perch rear seat goes for $28,229. Now here’s an opportunity for hockey mums to stand out from the crowd – and carry hockey sticks vertically.

2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT
2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT. Click image to enlarge

Unladen, the 2010 Ford Transit is surprisingly enjoyable to drive. The steering is direct, it goes where you point it with little body roll and the ride is quite refined. Good seats too.

But this Transit’s time with me was not going to be a drive in the park. Tucked in an alley, er narrow laneway, with the rear doors agape and both sliding doors open, we loaded it to the roof (several times) with boxes that had been packed with little consideration for the humans who had to carry them down two flights of stairs. The Transit’s cargo area measures 2057 mm (81 in.) deep, 1222 mm (48.1 in.) wide, and 1501 mm (59.1 in.) high, with a total capacity of 3,831 litres (135.3 cu. ft.). The floor is a textured hard rubberized compound.

While we wilted from the strain, the Transit’s rear suspension, featuring very truck-like leaf springs and a solid rear axle, barely compressed. Once under way, it was composed and stable.

The view out the front and through the deep cut side windows (think Lamborghini Diablo… or not) is positively panoramic and the turning circle is a tight 11.9 m (39 ft.). I was grateful for the large mirrors and optional $250 reverse sensing system. The only other option on this tester was the $550 roll stability control, which would have come in handy had I needed to dodge a few Crackberry dazed jay-walkers.

2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT
2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT. Click image to enlarge

The Transit’s interior is simple with a quality look and feel, the steering column tilts and telescopes, and above the windshield is a large netted shelf well suited for waybills, briefcases and rodents. With the seats right at hip point, ingress and egress is about as effortless as you could ask for, but it loses points for a lousy radio and no bun warmers, which would surely be appreciated by the many rural Canada Post workers who will be driving these soon.

That said, I have considerable respect for the Ford Transit Connect – a great concept brilliantly executed. As my Dad used to say, “Always use the right tool for the job.” This would be an ideal vehicle for such urban concerns as flower shops, pizza joints, couriers and rat exterminators.

Just kidding; I have a newfound respect for the rattus domesticus. Unlike a number of auto scribes I have had the pleasure of driving with, Stewie and Percy were quiet, cuddly, smelled pretty good and didn’t try to kill me.

Pricing: 2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT
  • Base price: $27,299
  • Options: $880 (block heater $80, roll stability control $550, reverse sensing system $250)
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,400
  • Price as tested: $29,679
    Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

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