Recent Drive: 2010 Ford Transit Connect
In an effort to meet the needs of small businesses (and make some money on a vehicle it developed for other markets), Ford has brought the European Transit Connect to the U.S. Why bring a funky car/van/wagon to the states? Because schlepping goods around town in a large traditional "E-Series" commercial cargo van can oftentimes prove inefficient, and a small panel van, like the Chevy HHR, just might not be big enough for the job. As a new solution, Ford offers the Transit Connect, which features a lower price, lower operating costs and more versatility than other options currently on the market.
We recently spent some time behind the wheel of this car/van hodgepodge and as far as driving dynamics go, it feels more like a car than a van. Its low stance and narrow width made driving through the small, busy streets of Beverly Hills an easy task, where a big heavy cargo van would most likely be daunting and cumbersome. Despite our cargo load of shelving units and baking supplies, darting through intersections and taking sharp turns (at relatively slow speeds) felt no different than handling the average minivan. Outward visibility was excellent, although the Transit Connect we drove didn't have any rear or rearside windows, so rearward visibility was limited to what could be seen using the side mirrors. Our drive route consisted of a few different stops at local businesses (a bakery, a framing store and a florist), where the owners demonstrated how the Transit Connect could benefit their respective operations. From elaborate floral bouquets, to large wedding cakes, to picture frames, it was clear that the Transit Connect was a good fit for almost any small business. Overall, we think that the Transit Connect has a place in the American market, albeit a small one, sandwiched somewhere between heavy cargo haulers and stations wagons. Maybe that explains the funky look.