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2011 Ford Transit Connect Review

Review Last Updated: 6/25/10

These scores and this review are from when the car was new.

Smaller than a full-size van, the Ford Transit Connect provides most of the versatility of its larger stable mates, with the fuel economy and maneuverability of a midsize sedan.

The Ford Transit Connect enters its sophomore year in the U.S. with few changes. The most important addition is a new model and powertrain option: the Ford Transit Connect Electric, which is reviewed separately.

Offered as both a cargo and passenger van, the Transit Connect is more suited for commercial than personal use. But for 2011, Ford is trying to change that. Addressing a previous complaint, they have added glass windows, instead of metal side panels, all around the van. To further encourage personal use, Ford has added a more luxurious top-of-the-line XLT Premium trim to passenger van models.

While it’s nice that the Transit Connect has become more livable as a personal vehicle, where it truly excels is in its element as a commercial vehicle. As Consumer Guide says, "Transit Connect neatly fills a size gap between the compact Chevrolet HHR Panel and enormous Dodge/Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. It is noisy and underpowered, but it delivers excellent utility, unexpected connectivity, and surprising fuel economy.”

The Transit Connect succeeds as a small cargo van. Reviewers are impressed with its cargo capacity of over 135 cubic feet and its 1,600-pound payload capacity, a figure that Cars.com calls “comparable to many light-duty pickup trucks.”

For businesses, Ford also offers its Work Solutions computer system. Consisting of an in-dash computer, it can be equipped with tool tracking and even fleet tracking, which allows businesses to keep in contact with its vehicles. This feature makes it easier to manage and dispatch multiple vehicles, which can help save time and fuel.

Unless the vast cargo space or increased payload/towing capacity of a full-size van are absolutely essential to you, the Transit Connect is a viable and economical alternative for businesses in need of a commercial van.

Other Vans to Consider

In Europe the Ford Transit Connect has ample competition, but in the U.S. there is no other vehicle quite like it. However there are many vehicles that can be cross-shopped with the Transit Connect. Those seeking heavy cargo-carrying capabilities may want to take a look at full-size vans like the Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana and 

These vans are more expensive and get far worse gas mileage than the Transit Connect, but they do offer better towing, seating and payload capacities.

Another option is the Chevrolet HHR Panel. The EPA gives it a base rating of 32 miles per gallon on the highway, which is substantially better than the Transit Connect’s rating of 25 mpg. However, the HHR Panel offers less than half the cargo space of the Transit Connect.

For those looking for passenger van duties, minivans like the Mazda5 or Kia Rondo are alternatives. These vans are dynamically superior and are available with one or two more seats, respectively, than the Transit Connect offers. However the Mazda5 and Kia Rondo offer far less cargo space compared to the Transit Connect.

Large minivans also provide some competition to the Transit Connect, offering more space and passenger volume. The Toyota Sienna offers standard four-cylinder power, 14.7 more cubic feet of cargo space and seating for seven, but it can’t match the Transit Connect’s fuel economy numbers, costs nearly $3,000 more and has a less robust storage area to throw items into.

Details: Ford Transit Connect

The Transit Connect is offered as both a cargo van and passenger van. The cargo van is available in XL and XLT trims and is available with steel panels or windows in the sliding side doors and barn doors in the rear. The passenger van adds a second row of seats, allowing up to five passengers, and is available in XL, XLT or new-for-2011 XLT Premium trims. Transit Connect XLT Premium models add a chrome grille and hood appliqué, body-colored exterior mirrors and door handles and a four-speaker audio system.

Interested in the Transit Connect?  Check out our Ford Deals page to see deals or incentives.

  • "The Transit Connect is European chic with a Puritan work ethic." -- Detroit News
  • "In the end, the Transit Connect is a modern-looking compact truck that will do the style- and efficiency-conscious business owner proud." -- Motor Trend
  • "Overall: Wonderful. Makes you want to open a shop so you can have one for deliveries." -- USA TODAY
  • "The Transit Connect seems poised to be all things to all businesses, and considering the lack of alternatives, we think it's got a serious chance at wide-spread success." -- Autoblog
  • "The Transit Connect occupies the same territory as the old-as-nails Econoline van, but manages the same job in a smaller, lighter, friendlier way." -- Jalopnik

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