Test Drive: 2010 Ford?s Transit Connect XLT

Ideal vehicle for work or play

While Ford?s new Transit Connect was initially intended for the small business owner in mind, it is in reality, an ideal vehicle for either work or play in an urban environment. The Turkish-built, Euro-style van is loaded with useful features that adapt well to hauling people or goods. More than 600,000 Transit Connects have been sold in 58 countries on three continents.

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In terms of it appearance, the Transit Connect comes across as a mini-Sprinter van with a high roof and square body, but sporting a rakish sloped nose and high windshield. There are six doors ? two front doors, two mini-van-style sliding side doors with large windows and two vertical rear doors (also with large windows) that open fully out of the way. The inside may be configured in a variety of ways to accommodate people and/or cargo. The split rear cargo doors open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optionally available 225 degrees, which when open, provide access to 52.1 inches of available load height. The rear doors lock separately from the other doors.

Transit Connect is available in three forms or trim levels: Van XL; Van XLT and wagon XLT. The latter comes with a second row split bench seat that either folds forward or is completely removable. Bulkheads, racks, bins and other organizational features available from Ford Work Solutions? may be mixed, matched and configured to suit recreational, hobby, lifestyle or work applications and needs. The Transit Connect is ideal for securely transporting motorcycles or ATVs, dog kennels, etc. with 135 cubic feet of cargo volume and an available payload of 1,600 pounds.?

The interior in the wagon XLT setup sports a simple, ergonomically-friendly layout featuring cloth covered seats done in a two-tone grey Giraffe-pattern with adjustable armrests, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a spacious forward storage tray above windshield with a net and a navigation system.

Power for the Transit Connect comes from a 2.0-liter Duratec DOHC, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder engine with electronic throttle body and sequential multiport electronic fuel injection. The fuel efficient engine mounted forward in an East/West orientation, and is coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive that meters energy to the front wheels. The four-cylinder motor delivers 136 horsepower along with 128 pound feet of torque.

My test 2010 Ford Transit was in the wagon configuration and XLT trim, with a removable split second row seat that also folded forward. The exterior finish was Silver metallic with the aforementioned grey Giraffe-patterned cloth along with Charcoal and satin silver trim. The base price was set at $22,350 with the optional rear-door check arms, reverse sensing system, front and rear carpeted floor mats, in-dash computer and Destination and Delivery charges boosting the final count and amount to $24,975.

?SUMMARY: The somewhat funky European look of the Transit Connect calls for a lot of double takes on the road. Its appearance is totally unique ? some might call it ?cute?. The versatility and functionality departments are where the Transit Connect really shines. It lends itself perfectly to anything from antique shopping to hauling grandkids and pets or powersports vehicles. Great for the yacht racer too, with plenty of room for sail bags.

?The engine could or should be bigger for really humongous loads, but for normal duty, the 2.0-liter four-banger does an adequate job, though it is a tad on the noisy side when pushed to its limits. The engine and other under-the-bonnet equipment are especially secure ? I was forced to refer to the manual to get the hood open. The ignition key is used to release and then allow opening the hood after figuring out how to access the keyhole, which is behind the Blue Ford oval badge located in the grille. It?s definitely secure, even if a bit quirky.

The road manners of the Transit Connect are quite civilized ? despite its overall bulky form, it surprisingly doesn?t suffer ?windage? issues, and is very stable at freeway speeds, even with a crosswind. The power-assisted rack and pinion steering allows for a 39-foot curb-to-curb turning circle, making maneuvering in tight quarters a breeze. If there is fault at all, it?s with the really short seat cushions for tall drivers such as myself. The low lift-over height of the floor makes for ease of ingress and egress, as well as in loading and unloading from either the rear or sides.

Given its reasonable purchase price and fuel economy, the Transit Connect is truly a vehicle that is ideal for either work or play ? or, for that matter, for both.

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