Future Cars

First Look: 2010 Ford Transit Connect

Does the 2010 Ford Transit Connect look familiar? It should. Aside from a few cosmetic details, the production-intent cargo van is virtually identical to prototypes shown at last year’s Chicago auto show.

Even then, it was hard to call those show vehicles “all-new.” The Transit Connect, which rides upon mechanicals sourced from the first-generation Focus, has been a staple of Ford’s European lineup since 2003. As part of the corporate “One Ford” mantra, product planners quickly realized there was room for the funky car-van crossover in America.

Room, yes, but a specific target demographic? Ford doesn’t think so. Although the full-size E-series van has long been the darling of the plumbing industry, the Transit Connect’s packaging makes it attractive to a host of niche firms or businesses located within bustling cities. Even though there’s 135 cubic-feet of cargo space inside, the Transit Connect is a mere 15 feet long, and has a turning radius of a sedan.

For 2010, designers gave both European- and American-spec Transit Connects a minor refresh, which lends a front bumper and dashboard that look as if they’re ripped from a Euro-spec Focus. Powertrain, however, differs between continents. A range of gasoline and diesel motors are offered overseas, but the only configuration destined for North America is a 136-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 mated to a four-speed automatic transaxle. Ford claims this combination allows the Transit Connect to achieve 20/ 24 mpg city/highway.

Ford plans on offering the Transit Connect in both two- and five-passenger versions, and in a number of different window configurations. Interestingly, all be built in Turkey as two-passenger window vans, and converted into other forms once they arrive in U.S. ports. Expect Transit Connects to arrive at dealerships this summer, wearing price tags that start at $21,495.