2014 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon Review
The unreview review of the unminivan minivan.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: April 29th, 2015
As I was heading out of the office on Good Friday, I was handed a set of keys to what would be my temporary whip for the weekend - Ford's Transit Connect Wagon. The 2014 Wagon is a redesign of Ford's Transit Connect, which until 2010, hadn't made its way to the North American market, as it was developed by Ford Europe where it was predominantly used as a cargo van. The same held true for the Connect when it finally debuted on the American stage, looking essentially like a utility or delivery van. Ford wanted to broaden its consumer base with the Transit Connect, appealing to those outside of its commercial-use Transit buyers, like local business owners, city dwellers, and families. Thus, the seven-passenger Transit Connect underwent a transformation, where it became less utility van like, and more compact passenger van like. So, basically, a small van. If only there were a name for this ...
The interior of the Connect is very spacious and comfortable, despite its total length being just shy of 16 feet, which is actually a full foot shorter than the Honda Odyssey (a full-size minivan). There is ample storage, with nifty pockets and overhead bins located throughout the vehicle. A large overhead storage shelf in the front row is capable of storing items like a jacket, blanket, purse, or hat, in addition to the standard map pockets on the sides of the front doors. And, the second row also has optional overhead storage bins that snap shut - almost mini versions of overhead storage bins on airplanes. These are all great features if the van is fully loaded and you're embarking on a road trip or shuttling kids to-and-from activities.
If you need to transport stuff rather than people, the wagon is very accommodating with completely collapsible second and third row seating that can be positioned totally flat. In the Titanium Wagon long wheelbase model we had, there was just over 104 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the first row with the second and third folded flat. In more tangible terms, I was able to easily fit two adult bikes in the back, along with two suitcases, a cooler, and gifts for my Easter excursion out to the boonies.
In the same vein that the Connect's cargo area is very functional, I'd also categorize its interior comfort-level as practical. Power-adjusted seats are leather-trimmed and come with a manual lumbar to support your back. The front row enjoys heated seats and dual-zone front auto temperature control so both the driver and passenger can enjoy their own heating levels. And the rear seats also have their own climate control so it's possible to set three different temperatures within the various zones of the Connect.
The Connect does a nice job of maximizing its interior cargo space, without adding great bulk to its size. At 190 inches long, the Connect is easy to maneuver through both rural and urban landscapes. I had no problem parallel parking it on the streets of Chicago or weaving it through cramped parking garages. Dual sliding doors on the side and a rear liftgate make entrances and exits fairly easy, though you'll need small, agile bodies to crawl into the third row. They've also softened the look of the Connect, to look less like a utility van and more like a compact car, though the rear still retains a fairly square shape versus the classic rounded-back look of traditional minivans.
The design of the wagon also allows for superb visibility. If you look closely at the windshield glass you can even notice a tiny pattern overlaid in the glass. This is a thin mesh of heating elements embedded between the layers of windshield glass that heat up with the press of a button for quick snow, ice, and fog removal.
On the Road
Based on Ford's global C platform (Focus and Escape, C-Max, Lincoln MKC), the Transit Connect is surprisingly nimble, and feels more like your average sedan when driving than a minivan or utility vehicle. The steering is very responsive, easily able to carry out tight turns. The 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated inline-4 leaves something to the imagination, with 169 horsepower that takes a little nudge to get going. Though it's low on frills, the wagon is high on efficiency, getting 20 miles to the gallon in the city and 28 on the highway - comparable or better than traditional minivans.
We had the optional MyFord Touch infotainment system, providing GPS navigation, traffic updates, and voice-activated commands via Ford Sync for hands-free communication, and rear-view camera. One feature of the van that we weren't able to test but is worth mentioning is Ford's MyKey Technology. Meant to help parents foster safe, responsible driving habits for their new drivers, the system lets you program individual keys for the vehicle so that when various ones are in use, personalized settings specific to that key take effect. This means parents can set certain restrictions on their teenager's key, like limiting their top speed, and setting a maximum volume on the audio system - which won't turn on until seat belts are fastened.
The Ford Transit Connect is a very straightforward vehicle. Despite some identity crisis issues - for all intents and purposes it's a minivan - it's a safe, reliable, comfortable van that above all else is practical. Its size, price, and efficiency don't get bogged down with unnecessary frills. With a base price of $29,000, the Transit Connect is a more expensive option in the compact cargo van segment in which the Nissan NV200 fetches $20 - $21K, and the Ram ProMaster City van models start between $23 - $25.5K. But it is a contender among the minivan segment costing over $10,000 less than Honda's Odyssey Touring and ranking competitively in price with Toyota's Sienna. Automakers are vying for a spot in this new niche market of compact city passenger vans, which is really just a lengthy new rebranding of the minivan. Ford might have you rolling your eyes with the "unminivan" title but at least it didn't go as far as to trademark itself the "swagger wagon."
Specs & Price
Engine: 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated inline-4
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Power Output: 169 horsepower / 171 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 20 city / 28 highway
Base Price: $29,000
As Tested: $32,145
Available Features: Ford Telematics, daytime running lamps, engine block heater, parking sensors, panoramic moonroof, electric windshield defroster, rear parking sensors, second-row overhead storage, key fobs, backup camera, satellite and HD radio
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect, click here: 2014 Ford Transit Connect.