CarsDiva’s Blog

An Auto Industry Insider’s View…From A Woman’s Perspective

Archive for July, 2009

Road Trip to Detroit

Posted by carsdiva on July 26, 2009

A few weeks ago, Ford called me up to test drive the new Ford Transit Connect, while they were hosting a media event in Chicago. I’ll have to admit, I wasn’t as familiar with the Transit Connect as some of the other Ford vehicles, so I was eager and excited to check it out. As we were talking, the idea came up that instead of just a test drive, if I was so inclined, I could drive the vehicle back to Detroit, to really get the entire Transit Connect experience. Always up for a challenge and a new adventure, of course I said yes!

Ford Transit ConnectFord delivered the vehicle on Friday evening, and I was to drive it to Detroit on Sunday. Lo and behold, the driver pulled up in a fire-red Transit Connect, plastered with the Ford logo, which could be spotted from a mile away. So what immediately came to mind was everyone is going to spot the vehicle…. which was exactly the point! For small business owners, the vehicle serves as an advertising campaign, 365 days a year, as the exterior palette is designed to be personalized to fit the owner’s needs. The Transit Connect seemed to look very much like vehicles I’d seen before in Europe. Well sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed that the Transit Connect is not a new concept on the global level. It’s been around since 2003, with over 600,000 vehicles sold in 55 countries.

My next concern was maneuvering on the downtown urban streets of Chicago (which if any of you are familiar with the city, can be a nightmare.) Well no worries there, I quickly (and thankfully) realized that the Transit Connect handles city streets and parking with no problem, including getting in and out of tight parking spots, and it stands at 6 feet 8 inches, so clearance in my parking garage was smooth sailing.

Ford Transit Connect_ advertising 365 days a yearThat being said, the smaller size and easy maneuverability does not compromise the carrying capacity of the vehicle. Given that this vehicle is meant for small business owners, and of course I wanted to check out the allotted space for my travel bags, one of the first things that I inspected was the cargo area. I was amazed, given its rather compact size, the Transit Connect encompasses over 135 cubic feet of space and can fit items up to 6 feet long and 4 feet 11 inches wide or tall, and has a payload capacity of 1,600 lbs. (Granted this was simply a day trip, so my bags would fit easily in the area, but I could definitely see the advantage for business owners who needed to transport their inventory.) I was also informed that the cargo area is customizable (just talk to your Ford dealer), and the vehicle can seat 4-5 people.

Before I knew it, Sunday morning rolled around and I was ready for my journey to Detroit. First things first- I had to check out the inside for some of the basic necessities for the drive- AC, check; AM/FM stereo, check; CD player, check; extra bonus- standard audio input jack for MP3/iPods, check! And most importantly (for me at least), was the navigation system. Yes, I have driven to Detroit before, but no, I didn’t remember exactly how to get there. Therefore, navigation was essential if I didn’t want to end up in the wrong state. However, before plugging in an address, I thoroughly investigated the “Ford Work Solutions” system, which is the in-dash computer that not only includes the navigation, but Internet access, Tool Link, Crew Chief, and hands free calling with blue-tooth enabled devices. Right above me I found the keyboard in the overhead “smart storage” area, which I used to browse the Internet to check out what was going on in Detroit that day, and to take a better look at some of the other features. Tool Link allows business owners to scan their inventory and keep track of their cargo, while Crew Chief is a telematics system that provides the capability to track vehicle performance and monitor the fleet. There are also optional printing capabilities, which I think would be quite and convenient for certain jobs that require paperwork to be printed.

I already mentioned the hands-free calling capability, but the Transit Connect is also equipped with other safety features that put me at ease before venturing off to the car capital of the world. This includes front seat and side airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control), and a reverse sensing system, which is an audio sensor for obstacles up to 6 feet from the rear (which is key when you’re trying to parallel park in downtown Chicago). And of course when you’re transporting inventory for your business, security is of the essence, so Ford implemented lock and latch doors that are super safe and secure for whatever it is that you’re transporting.

Onward to Detroit! I must say, I was quite impressed with smooth ride of the Ford Transit Connect. For being lower to the ground and capable of carrying quite a load, I didn’t expect the vehicle to handle so much like a car…but it did. The 2.0L Duratec engine produced 136 horsepower and 128 ft.-lbs of torque (ok so it doesn’t have the pick-up of a Mustang), but it gets the job done. And let me tell you, boy was I noticed everywhere I went! I was questioned when I stopped at public places, and I even got a “thumbs-up” sign from a lady who sped up to be right next to me.

CarsDiva with the Ford Transit ConnectAfter several hours of smooth driving, as well as the entertaining reactions of other drivers that noticed me, I finally arrived in Detroit. Much to my dismay, I had forgotten about the time change and had to head straight to the airport, but it was well worth the journey to get the whole driving experience. And now for the best part of the trip- I only filled the 15.4 gallon gas tank once! Yes ladies and gentlemen, the Ford Transit Connect was rated best in class for fuel economy (for small cargo vans), getting 25 miles to the gallon on the highway (which was most of my journey), and 22 mpg in the city.

Starting MSRP for the Ford Transit Connect is $21,475- quite affordable. For small business owners and entrepreneurs, particularly in urban environments, I highly recommend checking out the vehicle. And stay tuned folks- the filmed journey to Detroit will be up soon!


Posted in Car News & Trends | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »