Outside of driving and writing about cars, I'm also an occasional triathlete. Having once crammed five bikes into the back of a Mazda Protege5 while mounting six more to the roof, I love the endless possibilities for filling a Transit Connect. I've put on a few events as a race director in the past couple years, and dream about how useful a Transit Connect would be for hauling cones, barricades, water coolers, tables, and a dozen volunteers. Of course, when I took the Transit Connect home for a night, I couldn't come up with anything bulky to stick inside it, but I did have a box of books that I set in the cavernous cargo hold. Despite my best efforts to shake it loose, the rubberized floor did a fantastic job keeping the box in one spot for the entire trip home.
The Transit Connect may revolutionize the U.S. commercial vehicle market with better fuel economy, a great price, and excellent utility, but it does little to advance the driving experience. The price for fuel economy is an engine that really needs to be flogged for any serious acceleration. Merging onto the highway often requires a full boot to the throttle, a kickdown to second gear, and a not-so-sexy roar from the engine. The powerplant is adequate, but I can't imagine a Transit Connect loaded with 1500 pounds. At the very least, it seems a five-speed transmission would be a nice mid-life update. On the gusty winter night I drove the Transit Connect, the tall profile was a sail in the wind. Rather than the typically staccato crosswind shove that you might experience in other cars, the Transit Connect catches prolonged puffs that really require you to fight back with the steering wheel. In all, though, the Transit Connect is quite comfortable compared to some full-size vehicles that only ride well when fully loaded.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor