Ford Transit minivan

Ford Transit - Minivan

Ford aims this three-row, long-wheelbase version of the Transit Connect to serve minivan buyers, since the company offers the Flex, the Explorer, and the Expedition as three-row options but has no traditional minivan. And yet, Ford refers to this as the “unminivan.” It has been marketed as a viable option both for businesses and as a no-frills alternative to the Chrysler Pacifica, the Honda Odyssey, and the Toyota Sienna.

Options Come First, Not Last

The family-friendly version of the Transit Connect comes in either a short-wheelbase (SWB) version with a 104.8-inch span between its axles and a total length of 173.9 inches or a long-wheelbase (LWB) model with a 120.6-inch wheelbase and a total length of 189.7 inches. The SWB offers five-to-seven-person seating, while the LWB model is available in six- or seven-passenger variants. Buyers can choose between rear barn-style swing-open doors or a liftgate on XL and XLT trims; the liftgate is standard on the top-spec Titanium.

Our test example was the long-wheelbase Transit Connect Wagon in Titanium trim with six-person seating, which starts at $31, 320. It was equipped with the Premium package, which adds 17-inch black-finished aluminum wheels, a large fixed-glass sunroof, forward and reverse parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring; the Premium package has a $2345 price tag but brings along a $590 bundling discount. With the $395 Trailer Tow package and $45 daytime running lamps, the total price was a modest $33, 515.

What About the Kids?

Minivans are accommodation and comfort specialists, with the Odyssey and the Pacifica leading the way in terms of feature sets and driving character. They’ve also become pricey with their entertainment systems, high-class materials, and clever interior features and add-ons. The luxurious Pacifica Limited starts at nearly $44, 000, and the Chrysler’s nappa leather almost looks too nice to let kids near. The Transit Connect’s interior, on the other hand, would never be described as luxurious. It’s obvious this is a cargo van with some industrial carpeting and a few seats thrown in. There are no screens integrated into the headrests, no USB ports in the rear, no built-in vacuums, no stowaway seats, and no moody ambient lighting. You get two rear rows of stiff, folding captain’s chairs with the rearmost propped up on a platform, stadium-style, and that’s about it. The only high-tech piece found in the Connect is the Sync 3 infotainment system housed in the dashboard.

Rear-seat entertainment in this spacious box comes the old-school way: looking out the giant windows and playing a game of I Spy. This may be a great thing for minimalists who think family time should be spent actually talking to one another, or it could be easily remedied with tablets and phones as alternatives to built-in systems.

The Transit Connect has a distinctive shape and appearance, lower cost, and tight-space maneuverability that is superior to almost every other van. But it simply doesn’t out-minivan traditional minivans, and it’s better suited for taxi, hotel-shuttle, or ride-hailing use. The Connect Wagon is an interesting and useful branch on the Transit trunk, but those looking for a daily family hauler would be better off barking up a different tree.

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