Yes, I get to test drive a lot of sexy sports cars, really elegant luxury models and everything in between.
Without question, my popularity around town rises and falls each week based on what model is parked in my space in front of the newspaper.
Being an auto writer isnít always as glamorous as most people think. OK, it is pretty glamorous, but the point Iím trying to make is I also have the opportunity to write about vehicles that, while not sexy, play an important role in helping move the global economy.
This weekís test vehicle, the 2015 Ford Transit Connect, is a great example of that. Because itís not the usual type of vehicle I receive to drive for a week and write an evaluation, it did serve as the source for some good-natured ribbing from my colleagues at the paper. I will remember their comments, however, and the next time I receive a sexy sports car, they donít get to go for a ride.
But I digress. The Ford Transit is the fastest growing nameplate in the commercial van/wagon segment in the world. Thatís right, in the world.
Developed to meet the needs of fleet customers on six continents and in 118 markets, Transit is designed to provide customers with greater work capability while helping improve their productivity and bottom lines.
In addition to van, wagon, chassis cab and cutaway body styles, the Transit is available in three body lengths, two wheelbases and three roof heights ó with a best in class maximum cargo capacity of 487.3 cubic feet when properly equipped.
With a base price starting below $30,000, consumers have their choice of three available engines:
ē 3.7-liter V-6 delivering 275 horsepower and 260 lbs.-ft. torque. In addition to providing E85 flex-fuel capability, the 3.7-liter V-6 is also available with a compressed natural gas/liquid propane gas prep kit for fleets looking to take advantage of this affordable, clean fuel alternative.
ē 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 delivering 310 horsepower and 400 lbs.-ft. torque.
ē 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel I-5 delivering 185 horsepower and 350 lbs.-ft. torque.
The high-roof Transit van features 81.5 inches of interior cargo height, enough headroom for a person 6-feet, 4-inches tall to stand upright in the cargo area. The medium-roof model can accommodate up to 72 inches of cargo height, while the low-roof model has almost 56 inches of cargo height ó all with rear cargo doors that can open up to 270 degrees for easy loading and unloading. The interior has been developed for easy upfit of racks, bins, shelving and other cargo storage and hauling solutions while the largest passenger version can carry up to 15 people.
I was impressed at how easy it is to drive ó not what I expected from my high-roof test vehicle.
Ford engineers did a great job on the steering and suspension system ó and I really appreciated all the creature comforts. Itís unlike any work vehicle Iíve driven.
For companies looking to upgrade their fleet of vehicles, the Transit is a must for a test drive.
Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS
MODEL: 2015 Ford Transit Commercial van, waggon, chassis cab and cutaway body Rear-wheel drive Medium wheelbase, long wheelbase, long wheelbase extended length Low roof, medium roof, high roof Trim packages: Van, wagon XL, wagon XLT
PRICE RANGE: Starting at $29,565
ENGINE: 3.7L V6 (275 hp/260 T) 3.5L EcoBoost V6 (310 hp/400 torque) 3.2L diesel I5 (185 hp/350 T)
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
STABILITY CONTROL: AdvanceTrac stability with roll stability control
BRAKES: ABS
LENGTH: 219.9-263.9 in.
WHEELBASE: 129.9/147.6 inches
WIDTH: 97.4inches
HEIGHT: 83.6/100.8/110.1 inches
TRACK: 68.2/68.6 inches (front/rear)
FUEL TANK: 25 gallons
TIRES: 16-inch
CARGO: Up to 487.3 cubic feet.