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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh
Ford Transit Connect
Oshawa, Ontario – I’m a bit of an oddball when it comes to automobiles. While most writers prefer carving corners in low-slung sports cars, I’m happiest when I’m behind the wheels of work machines, the funkier the better. Right now, that’s the new Transit Connect, a Ford mainstay in Europe that’s now available in North America.
Companies use the term “whitespace” to describe segments void of any vehicles. In this case, the whitespace is small, purpose-built work vehicles, where the front-wheel drive Transit Connect stands alone. It’s smaller than the Dodge Sprinter (a vehicle now under the Mercedes badge), Chevrolet Express or Ford E-Series, making it easy to move around tight urban centres, and far more practical for those who don’t haul full-size loads. It’s also smaller than the cargo van version of the Dodge Grand Caravan, but larger than the Chevrolet HHR Panel, both of which are variations of passenger vehicles without rear seats or rear side windows. The Ford is available in three versions: a two-seat cargo van with solid metal rear doors, at $26,799; the same but with windows in the two rear doors, at $27,299; and a five-seat wagon, with sliding and rear door windows, at $28,299. My tester, a cargo van with rear windows, came equipped with all of the options available: electronic stability control for $550, reverse parking sensors for $250, and a block heater for $80.
Ford Transit Van. Click image to enlarge
That’s pricier than the HHR Panel, which starts at $20,545 with a manual transmission and $21,805 with an automatic, and includes standard stability control, but the HHR’s hinged doors aren’t always as convenient as sliding side ones, and it’s not as tall. The Grand Caravan Cargo Van has sliders, but it’s more expensive, starting at $27,945. The Transit Connect is going to attract a specific audience for whom pricing is only one factor, but it’s still fairly reasonable for the segment.
There’s a diesel version in Europe, of course, and with any luck, Ford will eventually offer that over here. In the meantime, the Transit Connect comes strictly with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, cranking out 138 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. It’s no power monster, but then, it really isn’t meant to be; instead, it’s intended for light-duty work on urban streets. Officially, it’s rated at 9.5 L/100 km in the city, and 7.9 on the highway; in a week with it unloaded, in combined driving, I averaged 8.3 L/100 km (34 mpg Imp).