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2010 Ford Transit Connect Preview

2010 Ford Transit Connect Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2009

CriticalKnowledge:
  • The Transit Connect is a small commercial van
  • Designed and engineered in Europe, where it originally launched in 2003
  • Upon debut was named InternationalVan of the Year
  • Aimed at small business owners
  • Competes against ChevroletHHR Panel
  • Front-wheel drive
  • 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • Has 135 cubic feet of cargo capacity
  • Has a 1600-pound payload rating
  • Built in Kocaeli, Turkey
  • U.S. sales begin in summer of 2009 for $21,475, including destination

Introduction
Ford has a plan to go global. Wait, you say. Isn't Ford alreadyglobal? Yes, indeed it is, but its product lineup is not. Ford's customers in Europe, Asia and Australia get models that Americans don't, while Americans get models that are not available in Europe,Asia and Australia. And while special market needs and requirements sometimes dictate unique solutions for specific demographic regions,Ford is aiming to reduce as much redundancy and overlap in its global portfolio as possible through its "One Ford" product strategy.

Case in point: the 2010 Ford Transit Connect. In Europe, Ford calls its commercial vans the Transit, whereas in North America we have the E-Series(formerly the Econoline). There is a plan for Ford to combine the engineering and design of these currently distinct models and sell one van lineup in all of its markets around the world. The first volley in this effort is the Transit Connect, a small, urban commercial vehicle for businesses that don't need-or want-a full-size E-150.

Currently, over 600,000 Transit Connects have been sold in 58 countries on four continents, and Ford says the little van has "a global reputation for durability and toughness." For its American debut,scheduled for summer of 2009, the Transit Connect gets a new grille and interior refinements.

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Design
In the 2010 Ford Transit Connect's case, form definitely follows function. This is a vehicle clearly built for work, and for that purpose the Transit Connect packs as much practicality as possible into a small footprint.

According to Ford, the Transit Connect has 135 cubic feet of cargo space, and points out that this is twice as much room as a ChevroletHHR Panel wagon. Load dimensions are 59.1 inches high by 47.8 inches wide at the wheel wells by 72.6 inches deep. The Transit Connect's rear doors swing open 180 degrees (optionally to 255 degrees) and the load height through the doors is 52.1 inches. Loading can also be facilitated by dual sliding side doors. The Transit Connect's payload rating is 1600 pounds, which Ford says is more than at least one version of the DodgeRam pickup.

Inside, the Transit Connect is fairly basic. Standard equipment includes a 6-way adjustable driver's seat with an armrest, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, air conditioning, and a stereo. The center console contains two cup holders and two storage/organizer bins, and there's an overhead shelf. The van comes equipped with dual front and side-impact air bags. A CD player and an auxiliary input jack are optional.

As might be expected for a commercial vehicle such as this, Ford offers a wide range of cargo solutions for the Transit Connect. A variety of bulkheads, bins and racks can be added to the van. Furthermore, several window configurations are offered, and buyers can even specify a 2- or3-passenger rear seat if the business plan includes more than one passenger.

Hardware
One might think that a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine making 136 hp at6300 rpm and 128 lb.-ft. of torque at 4750 rpm, driving the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission, might prove inadequate for the task at hand. But Ford endows the Transit Connect with a 4.20:1final drive ratio, meaning the diminutive powertrain delivers plenty of pulling power while returning an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway. The engine also boasts service intervals of 7500miles, according to Ford.



Technology
One of the more useful features of the 2010 Ford Transit Connect is the optional Ford Work Solutions package. It includes an in-dash Windows CE6.0 touch-screen computer with Internet access and available printing capability, and features the ability to send and receive text messages,find destinations using a Garmin navigation system, link a cell phone for hands-free communication, and remotely access office networks for documents or files.

Ford also offers a Tool Link system that uses RFID tags to organize,scan and track tools, inventory, and other cargo. Finally, the CrewChief telematics service helps monitor and manage large fleets of vehicles by reporting on vehicle location, vehicle speed, and upcoming maintenance intervals. There's even a "geo-fencing" feature that can be programmed to limit usage time of the vehicle and to limit the TransitConnect to specific geographic regions. Come to think of it, Crew Chieftelematics should be offered on any Ford driven by a teenager.

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