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2014 Ford Transit Connect REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Complicated seat folding procedure; turbo engine unavailable on long-wheelbase wagon; second row doesn't slide or recline; limited payload and towing capacities.

Interior: Apart from its Popemobile windshield and acre of dashboard, the Transit Connect could just as easily be a Ford Escape or C-Max from the driver or front passenger seat. The interesting, quasi-futuristic design is virtually identical, with climate controls below clearly separated from the infotainment controls above. The optional MyFord Touch system has received its fair share of complaints for its usability and electronic glitches, but these have mostly been corrected with software updates, and MyFord Touch is now easier to use than several other interfaces. The same can't be said, however, about the standard stereo interface that consists of a small central screen controlled by many buttons.

Behind the driver, however, things get considerably different -- and vary considerably depending on the wheelbase and whether you're carrying people or cargo. The XL cargo van, for example, is a bare-bones workhorse with vinyl upholstery and floor coverings with mounting points for customizable shelves and whatever a business might need. Upper trim levels add creature comforts, but the van is still very much a dedicated work vehicle.

The wagon -- and specifically the seven-passenger long-wheelbase model -- can be used as a family vehicle. The second-row seat doesn't recline or slide, and folding both rows of seats is complicated compared to regular minivans, but space in both rows is just as good (and sometimes better) than you'll find in those same minivans. The quality of plastics isn't quite up to Ford's current top-notch standards, but it's not objectionable, and the Titanium trim's leather upholstery and advanced technology should please its owners at a price point that significantly undercuts similarly priced rivals.

If it's cargo you're looking to haul, the short-wheelbase model offers 105.9 cubic feet behind the front seats, while the long-wheelbase version's larger cargo hold can swallow 130.6 cubic feet. This is less than a regular minivan, but still much better than a large crossover. Even more capacity is available thanks to the fold-flat front passenger seat.

Body: The 2014 Ford Transit Connect is a compact commercial minivan that's offered in cargo or passenger-oriented wagon body styles and two different wheelbases. There are three available trim levels: XL, XLT and Titanium (wagon only). The XLT wagon seats five or seven, depending on which wheelbase you select, while seven-passenger seating is standard on the XL and Titanium.

Base standard equipment on the XL cargo van includes 16-inch steel wheels, gray grille/bumpers/side moldings, keyless entry, air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery and floor coverings, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power front windows, power door locks and a two-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio input jack. The XL wagon version is long-wheelbase only and has a second-row seat, a third-row seat, a front-seat center console and power second-row windows.

Stepping up to the XLT cargo van gets you body-color bumpers, foglights, power-adjustable heated mirrors, cloth upholstery, a 4.2-inch multifunction display, cruise control, a front overhead storage shelf and a CD player. The XLT wagon (which is available in short- or long-wheelbase form) also has rear privacy glass, a rearview camera and rear climate controls.

The top-of-the-line Titanium wagon adds 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, adaptive cornering foglights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, four speakers for the sound system and Ford's voice-controlled Sync system.

Many of the features that come standard on upper trim levels are also available on other models. Other major options include 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels, a compressed natural gas engine prep package (late availability), front and rear parking sensors, a towing package, a fixed panoramic sunroof, a roof rack, satellite/HD radio, the MyFord Touch electronics interface (includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and a navigation system) and the Crew Chief telematics system designed for fleet operators.

Driving: Even if the Transit Connect lacks the get-up-and-go of V6-powered traditional minivans, it's still much better to drive, with sharper handling and an overall feel that makes you forget about the apartment's worth of space over your shoulder. If you live in the city or frequently travel on tight rural roads, the Transit Connect will feel like an athlete compared to a Honda Odyssey – much less a behemoth like a Chevy Express. We'd recommend getting the punchier turbocharged engine, but unfortunately, it is unavailable on long-wheelbase wagon models.

The steering in particular is worthy of praise, offering the same sort of just-right effort and impressive road feel found in other Ford vehicles. On the other hand, its ride is much firmer and indicative of a smaller, sportier vehicle. That'll be just fine for those transitioning from something like a Focus, but current minivan drivers may find the suspension does not provide the sort of suppleness and isolation they've come to expect

What’s New: The 2014 Ford Transit Connect has been fully redesigned. Highlights include sleeker styling, new engines and additional standard and optional features. Newly available third-row seating also makes it a viable, more cost-conscious alternative to minivans.

Under its low-profile hood, the 2014 Ford Transit Connect is fitted with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque is available as an option on select variants (the long-wheelbase wagon is not one of them). Both engines send power to the front wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission.

EPA estimated fuel economy for the cargo van with the 2.5-liter engine is 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city/29 mpg highway). The wagon is slightly less at 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/28 mpg highway). Opting for the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine gets you an estimated 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city/30 mpg highway).

Safety: Standard safety features on the 2014 Ford Transit Connect include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover all rows of seats.

Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are available as options. The optional Ford Sync system includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers, is also optional.

Pro: Fuel-efficient engines; two available body lengths; customizable cargo area; less expensive and more involving to drive than regular minivans; attractive interiors on Titanium trim level.

Edmunds Say: The compact, front-wheel-drive 2014 Ford Transit Connect boasts numerous improvements. It's a smart choice if you're seeking a smaller, more fuel-efficient alternative to a full-size van or larger minivan.

Introduction: When it was introduced to North America for the 2010 model year, the Ford Transit Connect became popular with small business owners desiring a smaller, more fuel-efficient cargo hauler than the traditional, full-size commercial van models that had dominated the segment for decades. For 2014, Ford has given the Connect a complete overhaul.

With this second generation, the front-wheel-drive Transit Connect (not to be confused with the Transit, which is Ford's new name for its new full-size van) gains more than just a svelte new shape. For starters, there are now two different wheelbases, along with two new engines, both of which are more powerful and fuel-efficient. Despite the loss of that high roof line, total cargo capacity is down by just 5 cubic feet on long-wheelbase models. The maximum payload spec remains unchanged at 1,600 pounds, while towing capacity checks in at 2,000 pounds.

Buyers can still order the Transit Connect in the popular two-seat cargo van configuration preferred for delivery uses. The passenger-oriented Wagon body style, which was previously offered with only a second-row bench seat and seating for five, can now be had in a long-wheelbase version with three rows of seats and seven-passenger capacity. Twin sliding side doors are standard, and buyers can choose between a rear liftgate or twin barn-style doors that open 180 degrees out back. A variety of side and rear window glass configurations are also available. Finally, there are a handful of new options on offer, including compressed natural gas engine preparation, the MyFord Touch infotainment system and an available panoramic fixed sunroof.

As a result of its new, more passenger-friendly long-wheelbase version, the Ford Transit Connect essentially belongs in two different segments. One is the commercial van market, which the previous generation helped to transform by providing businesses with an alternative to big and inefficient full-size vans they didn't really need. In this segment, the 2014 Ram C/V offers the advantages of quicker acceleration and higher payload and towing capacities because of its strong V6 engine. The recently introduced Nissan NV200 is also worth a look, but the Transit Connect is currently the most appealing.

Its new segment, though, is that of family minivans. It's obviously quite a different vehicle from our top-rated Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, offering less overall space, power and equipment. However, it's also cheaper, more efficient and sharper to drive. Budget-conscious families should definitely give it a look.

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