2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT Van

Like most people my age, I absolutely love not paying for stuff, especially when that stuff comes from my parents. So when the folks said they were visiting Illinois to check on the house they have for sale (a nearly new, five-bedroom, brick-front home in Arlington Heights that's recently been reduced - you're welcome, Dad) I saw an opportunity to literally clean house.

The Transit Connect was surprisingly competent on the four-hour highway ride from Ann Arbor. You would assume a vehicle shaped like a billboard to be susceptible to crosswinds -- and you'd be right -- but its quick, communicative steering means you can easily apply corrections without sawing the wheel. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder was a bit buzzy at cruising speeds but never had trouble maintaining 70-75 mph, which is quite impressive when you remember the vehicle's top speed is something like 90 mph.

Once in Illinois, I discovered my parents had rented a Chevrolet HHR for the weekend, which allowed for some quick back-to-back testing. No question about it, the Transit Connect is much more enjoyable behind the wheel, though the Chevy still has a somewhat nicer interior.

What did I manage to haul back from the soon-to-be empty house? For starters, I cleaned out the entire pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Thinking I'd need a way to cook some of that food quickly, I took a microwave. Then I went to my room and carried out, more or less, my entire childhood: posters, sports banners, clothing, about a dozen books, a Flexible Flyer sled, and a Nok Hockey table. There was still plenty of room, so I relieved the front porch of its furniture and took the TV from my parents' bedroom. I really could have fit much more, but by that point, my parents' humor and generosity had run thin, so it was suggested that I be pleased with what I had. If we get a Transit Connect in again, I'll probably return for their living room couch.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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A diesel and a manual would make this more compelling.

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