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2012 Ford Transit Connect: My opinion hasn’t changed

August 28, 2012
Transit Connect beauty shot

Transit Connect XLT Wagon could be a good only car (Orin O’Neill photos)

As this is written, the Powerball jackpot is $70 million. If I were to defy odds an order of magnitude longer than getting whacked in the head by a meteorite and win the thing, my inevitable new car purchase would not be some German luxo-mobile, but a Ford Transit Connect. Seriously.

If you’ve been reading this here blog for a while, you’re probably tired of me going on and on about how the Transit Connect is the Ultimate Scooter Hauler™ (unless, of course, you’ve done like the Detroit Scooter Examiner and Buffalo Scooter Co, and bought one). Through some kind of promotional thing that will result in Ford Motor Company handing a $6,000 check to Bellingham’s Sehome High School, on Saturday I got to sample a movable feast of new Ford vehicles, supplied by local dealer Diehl Ford. That a Transit Connect was one of them was a more-than-pleasant surprise.

The TC’s tall roof and relatively long wheelbase do indeed make for generous cargo volume, but that wouldn’t matter if it were no fun to drive. Happily, it is fun. Kind of. Okay, it’s not a Fiesta RS like Ken Block’s, but it’s not a stiff, trucky device. Not at all.

Transit Connect dashboard

Ford Motor Company

The TC behaves rather like a Focus or any other C-segment car. A bit jittery on any but the smoothest road surfaces, yes. But it’s a truck, and most trucks ride better with a few hundred pounds of payload in the back. Like, f’rinstance, a couple of scooters. 😉

Inside, there’s a dashboard that probably was lifted from an earlier Euro Focus, and a gear selector that’s positioned a bit high, which makes it easy to reach. The dash is made from the same kind of hard plastic as the Fourth Estate’s, but the Fourth Estate’s plastic dash looks just as good after 18 years as it did when new. The TC’s a truck, and the fleet managers who buy the majority of these aren’t trying to impress the parking valets at Canlis.

Transit Connect beauty shot

The employers of those fleet managers long ago discovered that buying vans with comfortable, supportive seats was much cheaper in the long run than paying medical bills associated with back injuries. The TC’s chair is firm, nicely-shaped and high enough to make getting in and out a doddle (which, come to think of it, is what most people who drive these things have to do, a lot). Still, the high roof can make you feel like you’re sitting on the floor.

Okay, back to my primary reason for getting a Transit Connect: schlepping one or two scooters to distant scooter rallies. How would it do? For starters, its acceleration is not at all sluggish—getting up to extra-legal freeway speed is simply not a problem. Not only does it ride comfortably, the engine does not rev its guts out (even if it did, you’d hardly notice), and the cabin is much quieter than you might expect, even with all the exposed, painted steel inside an XLT Wagon, which is what I drove. Big Easy Weekender? New York Scooter Block Party? Amerivespa? No. Problem. At. All.

When you’re home, you’ll appreciate the nicely-weighted, accurate steering and excellent brakes. With a little seat time, you could be carving exit ramps and lane closures like, well, Ken Block. Okay, maybe not. But you could actually find yourself looking forward to driving it.

Transit Connect rear doors open

As you can see, the rear doors open wide after you press the yellow buttons. An option I would definitely get is the 255° door-opening capability, which allows them to swing right up against the TC’s rear quarter panels, a very handy feature for tight spaces.

While the TC is at heart a commercial vehicle, XLT Wagons seem to be quite popular among those whose ancient Volvo station wagons and VW Microbuses finally gave up the ghost. It’s easy to see why; the TC shares those vehicles’ crunchy utilitarianism. So it gets dirty, so it gets banged up. So what? As I said, there’s no fussy leather or wood inside, just lots of painted metal and gray plastic. The floor has a plastic covering that’s easy to clean, no small consideration if you’re hauling scooters. Unfortunately, you’ll need tools if removing the 2nd-row bench seat becomes necessary—there’s no quick ‘n easy latch system. A non-issue if you opt for the Van.

Cargo space

I neglected to bring a tape measure, but it looks like there’s enough room for a smallframe or Buddy to fit diagonally with the bench in place. The second row seats fold and tumble and are split 60/40; with either segment thus stowed, something P/PX sized can fit diagonally. But without the 2nd-row seats, I don’t see why two big modern Vespas wouldn’t fit side-by-side.

I can totally recommend the Transit Connect as an only car. While the TC’s EPA-rated 27 highway mpg may not be stellar at this moment in time, it sure beats the hell out of the 8-12 mpg you’re likely to get from some cheap beater white van you’d find on Craigslist. Hey, you have a scooter, right? I need one of these. Guess I’d better go buy a Powerball ticket. Favicon

Plus: Not trucky, not slow, not clumsy.
Minus: No diesel for the U.S., no easy removal of the 2nd-row bench seat, not rated for trailer towing.

The details

Base MSRP: $23,890 (XLT Wagon)
Built in: Turkey
Construction: Pressed steel unit body with front subframe
Curb weight: 3373 lbs (1530 kg) (XLT Wagon)
Length: 180.6 in (4587 mm)
Width: 83.2 in (2113 mm) with mirrors
Wheelbase: 114.6 in (2911 mm)
Front susp: MacPherson struts w/coil springs, tubular shocks and anti-roll bar
Rear susp: Multi-leaf springs w/tubular shocks and anti-roll bar
Front brakes: Power-assisted hydraulic discs with ABS
Rear brakes: Power-assisted hydraulic drums with ABS
Front tires: P205/65R15 BSW
Rear tires: P205/65R15 BSW
Engine: 1999cc liquid-cooled DOHC 16-valve 4-cyl with electronic fuel injection
Transmission: 4-speed automatic w/overdrive
Power/torque: 136 hp (101.4 kW) @ 6300 rpm/128 lb-ft (173.5 Nm) @ 4750 rpm
One Comment
  1. August 28, 2012 12:50 pm

    My Stella was delivered by Buffalo Scooter Company in their TC, it was an easy roll out with a small ramp when unloading. They also use it as the support vehicle during their scooter rides. I’ve been in love with the TC since the first time I saw one. If I was to ever get another four wheeled vehicle it would probably be a TC, but for now I am content with my Stella and leaving the four wheel driving to my wife.

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