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2018 Ford Transit Connect Overview
Versatility and functionality remain the hallmarks of the Ford Transit Connect commercial van for 2018, as it continues to grow in popularity. In addition to being the top-selling commercial van for the past few years, the Transit Connect also outsold all minivans in 2017, making it the country's best-selling van of any type. Buyers can outfit the Transit Connect as a cargo van or a passenger wagon with a choice of two wheelbases, three overall lengths, and three roof heights, as well as a variety of exterior colors and interior setups. In all, Ford offers the commercial van in 64 different configurations, including as a cutaway or chassis cab, designed to meet the needs of just about any transit situation or work requirement.
Ford sweetens the Transit Connect's features and options for 2018 with a number of new upgrades and enhancements that focus on appearance, convenience, flexibility, durability, and passenger comfort. Outside, the Transit Connect gets available power-folding short-arm heated side mirrors with turn signals, as well as a new Stone Gray exterior color. The automaker also adds new optional forged-alloy rear wheels, to give the van some extra flair, and moves the available reversing camera from beside the license plate to above the rear doors on body styles with the raised roof, to provide better visibility. It will remain next to the license plate on vans with the standard low-roof height.
Inside, the Transit Connect gains a new locking glove box as standard equipment, so owners can keep documents secure at work sites, and a new optional charcoal leather upholstery package with heated front seats for those who prefer a more upscale interior feel. When configuring the Transit Connect as a passenger van, buyers can add newly available assist handles on the rear D-pillars, along with extended-length running boards, making it easier for passengers to enter and exit the vehicle.
Other new interior options for 2018 include a push-down manual parking brake, which replaces the standard hand brake, and Bluetooth capability for the upgraded AM/FM stereo, as well as an audio input jack and microphone, which help simplify business calls. In addition, buyers who require a more rugged ride have a number of new options from which to choose, including available heavy-duty flooring, a heavy-duty rear scuff plate, and a rear-door scuff plate for the cargo van.
Ford continues to offer the Transit Connect at XL Van, XLT Van, XL Passenger Wagon, XLT Passenger Wagon, and Titanium Passenger Wagon trim levels for 2018. The XL Van, XLT Van, and XLT Passenger Wagon ride on either a short-wheelbase (SWB) or long-wheelbase (LWB) platform, while the XL Wagon and Titanium Wagon are offered only on the LWB. SWB platforms have a wheelbase of 104.8 inches, which stretches to 120.6 inches for LWB platforms. Overall lengths check in at 173.9 inches and 189.7 inches, respectively.
Cargo vans come standard with two front seats and a configurable cargo area, while SWB passenger vans get a second-row three-passenger bench seat, which expands seating capacity to five. LWB versions add a third-row folding two-passenger bench seat, with room for up to seven passengers. Buyers can configure the Titanium Passenger Wagon to carry six or seven passengers, with either the bench seat or two fold-flat bucket seats in the second row.
Standard features for all Transit Connect trims include air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power front windows, a 4-spoke steering wheel with a tilt/telescopic column, and a two-speaker AM/FM audio system. XL trims get vinyl seats, while XLT trims receive cloth seats, as well as a CD player, cruise control, an overhead storage shelf with grab handles, map lights, and a message center on the instrument cluster. Passenger wagons also include a standard 4.2-inch LCD multifunction display and rear-seat climate control, while the Titanium Passenger Wagon adds leather upholstery, heated front seats with a 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and an upgraded audio unit with Bluetooth and Ford's Sync infotainment system.
Cargo capacity remains unchanged, at 103.9 cubic feet for SWB platforms and 128.6 cubic feet for LWB platforms. The SWB trims have a maximum payload of 1,470 pounds, which increases to 1,610 pounds for LWB editions. All vans have a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. Buyers can outfit cargo vans with a number of upgrades, including cabinets, bins, and dividers, as well as customizable cargo management systems. Dual sliding doors are standard on all trims.
The Transit Connect's clean, unadorned exterior design hasn't changed much over the years, and with its short nose, straight sidelines, gray molded bumpers, and prominent wheel wells, it continues to emphasize function over cool looks. XLT trims get front fog lights and heated side mirrors, while the XLT Passenger Wagon adds roof rails. The Titanium Passenger Wagon also includes automatic headlights, power-folding heated side mirrors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. All trims ride on 16-inch wheels, though 17-inch wheels are available, along with a variety of other exterior options, including daytime running lights.
Power for all Transit Connect trims comes from a 2.5-liter Duratec 4-cylinder engine making 169 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, which delivers plenty of low-end torque for towing and acceleration under heavy loads. Fuel-economy numbers range from 19 mpg city/27 highway/22 combined to 20/27/23, depending on the configuration. All Transit Connects ride on a front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform with electric power-assist steering and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes. Safety features for cargo vans include first-row side airbags, while wagons get side airbags for all three rows. All trims include Ford's AdvanceTrac stability-control system and Hill Start Assist.
The Transit Connect faces off against a number of competitors, like the Chevrolet City Express cargo van and Express Passenger Van, as well as the GMC Savana, which also can be specified as a cargo or passenger van. While they may offer more overall cargo space than the Transit Connect, they can't match it when it comes to available configurations and add-ons. In that sense, the Transit Connect rolls in a class occupied largely by itself. While critics say its engine remains underpowered and note its lack of available all-wheel drive (AWD), the Transit Connect's overall versatility, functionality, configurability, and low entry price point should keep it running smoothly for years to come.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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