Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Transit Connects Everywhere


The transit connect is a all new model for the 2011 Ford model year. Cars.com wrote this article:
By Scott Burgess
Detroit Newspapers
September 3, 2009

The recession is over, and I've got proof.

While many "experts" will point to the GDP, unemployment figures and the trade deficit, I'm more of a believer of those tangible products that predict our nation's financial plight. Sales of cardboard boxes, diamonds and lipstick have been monitored in the past and could work today.

Future economic soothsayers will gaze into their Magic 8 Balls and use the Ford Transit Connect sales numbers as a barometer of the nation's small business health. To paraphrase a different auto exec from a different time: What's good for small businesses is good for the country.

Who knew the U.S. economic engine was a little 2-liter four-cylinder? But the 2010 Transit Connect's four-banger can handle the load, 1,600 pounds at a time.

While the exterior has the utilitarian styling of an airplane's chock block, this vehicle is packed with infinite purpose. The Transit Connect is European chic with a Puritan work ethic. It's been a mainstay in Europe since 2003 and after selling 600,000 of them, Ford Motor Co. finally decided U.S. small businesses might need some help.

It starts at $21,475 (including shipping) -- though even fully outfitted with high aftermarket customization, the price is not likely to cross $30,000. Offering two, four or more seats, the Transit Connect provides business owners with what they want.

When Ford introduced the Transit Connect to the U.S. media last year, the company showcased different versions and showed how the vehicles could be transformed into speedy suites and rolling billboards. They can deliver everything from azaleas to X-ray machines or become mobile workshops for electricians, mechanics or just about anyone else. Imagination is the only limit.

During the recent Woodward Dream Cruise, I tried to convince my editors to use a Transit Connect as a mobile newsroom. Some scoffed -- but just wait. It's a folding table top, desk chair and Wi-Fi connection away from replacing my desk on West Lafayette.

Two aspects make the Transit Connect work so well: capabilities and performance.

Any business owner can tailor the Transit Connect to fit his or her needs exactly. That could mean a few more deliveries every day because of the 135 cubic feet of storage space. The storage area is 59 inches tall and the low floor means it is easier to load.

Currently, there is no direct competition to the Transit Connect, at least not in the U.S. No doubt, there will be in the future. As smooth as it is useful

Versatility is one thing, but the Transit Connect also offers a good ride. The 2-liter engine provides 136 horsepower and 128-pound-feet torque. It's not quick and no race car attributes come to mind behind the wheel of the Transit Connect, but it always gets the job done. The four-speed automatic transmission whines a little more than I liked, but fewer gears helped keep power at the wheels instead of having the transmission hunt too long.

Getting onto the highway is easy and the Transit Connect stays with the flow of traffic without overworking itself.

Even with the high roofline, the Transit Connect handled corners and city driving particularly well. The power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering was easy to turn and the vehicle was easy to maneuver (though I would suggest including the optional back up camera). It has 39-foot curb-to-curb turning, which is the same as the 2010 Ford Taurus. It's easier to maneuver than bigger vans or pickups and a novice could master it quickly -- another factor for small businesses, no doubt, to consider.

It comes with anti-lock brakes and roll stability control. All the while, the Transit Connect gets 22 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Stripped down, all business

The interior feels much more workman-like than luxurious, but I expected that. My test vehicle was a basic five-seater; there's no reason to have pleated leather door inserts or Alcantara roof liners.

If the military used the Transit Connect, officers wouldn't drive it, sergeants would; so this truck needs to know to how work for a living. Maybe in a few years, after the Transit Connect grows in popularity, Ford can build the King Ranch Transit Connect but for now, the Blue Oval's Transit Connect is strictly blue collar.

Ford gives this vehicle everything it needs. There's a big storage shelf that stretches across the front, above the driver. It creates purpose out of dead space and for small businesses, every bit helps.

The driving position is upright and helps keep you fresh during a day of heavy hauling. The dash is well laid out and caters to the driver.

The sliding second-row doors are also an excellent feature, providing lots of room for ingress and egress, as well making it easier to park in tight spaces and still have space to open up.

The double barn door style rear doors also open in tight spots and can include the optional 225 degree opening, meaning they can open up and become almost flush with the side of the vehicle.

Then there's Ford Work Solutions, such as Tool Link and Crew Chief.

Tool Link uses RFID tags to take instant inventory of the equipment in the vehicle and immediately alert the driver if everything needed for a job is loaded. It can also check at the end of the day to make sure a worker brings everything home.

Crew Chief allows the boss to monitor the location, speed, idle time, fuel usage and 30 diagnostic measures of vehicles on the road.

The tool can help save costs and assists with good preventative maintenance.

The Transit Connect started rolling into dealerships in July, and Ford sold 417 of them. In August, it sold more than 2,220.

Yes, times are tough, but judging by my revolutionary Transit Connect economic predictor multiplied by the spirit of small business owners, the outlook is improving. The recession may not be over, but its end is near.

We can find our own bootstraps -- the Transit Connect just gives people a reason to pull a little harder.

sburgess@detnews.com (313) 223-3217

2010 Ford Transit Connect

Type: Multipurpose vehicle

Starting price: $21,475

Engine: 2-liter four-cylinder

Power: 136 horsepower; 128-pound-feet torque

Transmission: 4-speed automatic

EPA gas mileage: 22 mpg city / 25 mpg highway

Report Card

Overall: *** 1/2

Exterior: Good. Better as a rolling billboard than a fashion statement.

Interior: Excellent. You decide how you want to use it and configure it.

Performance: Good. Small engine provides good gas mileage and enough power on a daily basis. Easy to operate.

Safety: Excellent. Front and side airbags, rollover mitigation and anti-lock brakes.

Pros: Versatile and comfortable ride. Good starting price.

Cons: May not fit all needs, especially if heavy towing is necessary.

The Fleet Team at Gresham Ford is motivated to sell all the Transit Connects on our lot. Come take a look, we have many many to choose from. It looks great in Red or Blue. Call the Fleet Department at 503-969-4184 or email Annette@GreshamFord.com for more information or to make an appointment.