Transit Connect

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2021 Ford Transit Connect Overview

A new propane/compressed natural gas (CNG) option increases the versatility of Ford’s little van for the 2021 model year. Additionally, the lane-keep system is now bundled with adaptive cruise control under the Ford Co-Pilot360 banner, while the Taxi Prep package gets deleted this year. That nets out to more good than bad for this Ford and helps the Transit Connect catch up with competitors like the Mercedes-Benz Metris.

In all, the Transit Connect doesn’t do as well as a dedicated minivan or as a dedicated cargo van, but it offers the versatility of both. That might matter more to the salesman than the buyer, who is likely to want one or the other, but the flexibility still needs to be admired. And with the new option to convert the Transit Connect to CNG, fleets should take notice. That’s because while the Transit Connect technically comes with the option of two engines, only one is available to the general public. Buy your Transit Connect for fleet use, however, and you’ll get the option to take advantage of the bigger engine, and the ability to convert to CNG.

But let’s talk about consumers here. Your average Joe can buy a Transit Connect with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivering 162 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. Fleet buyers can opt for a larger 2.5-liter engine that delivers 169 hp and 177 lb-ft. It’s this engine that gets the CNG option, which means it’s out of reach for the general public.

The base XL trim level offers a very “base” experience with easy-to-clean vinyl flooring, manual mirrors, a single USB port, and a tiny 4.2-inch central display that makes you realize just how recently it was that screens were that small. Even with a standard forward-collision warning system with auto brake, it’s a very sparse and spartan affair.

Unless you’re buying the Transit Connect for someone else to drive, We’d suggest moving up to the XLT trim level, with its dual-zone climate control, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, a larger 6.5-inch display for the Sync 3 infotainment system, and a whole second USB port! But the big improvement here is Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of safety systems that includes auto high beams, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep, which as previously mentioned, now comes bundled with adaptive cruise.

If you’re looking for a cargo van, that’s where your choices end. But if you’re setting up your Transit Connect to haul around passengers rather than cargo, the Titanium trim offers keyless entry and ignition with remote start, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, integrated navigation, and Xenon headlights with LED fog lights. That seems like a bit of overkill until you spend a few hours hauling people around without such conveniences.

Exclusively available with front-wheel drive, the Transit Connect comes in short-wheelbase or long-wheelbase configurations, though the passenger version is only available in the latter. More importantly, the Transit Connect offers a more enjoyable driving experience than most of the competition, with the possible exception of the Metris. The Ram ProMaster City and Nissan NV200, on the other hand, simply can’t keep up. If you’re looking for a true van, not a minivan, this is where you should start your search.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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