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    The 2010 Ford Transit Connect. (Ford).

    by: Reilly Brennan | AOL Autos
     

    What...is that thing?

    The question came up more than once in our week with the panel van / truck / urban box known as the Ford Transit Connect. In fact, we're not sure we know how to answer it ourselves. Unlike most vehicles on the market today, it simply doesn't fall into any typical category.

    Ford says the vehicle is "specific for everyone," but after a week we think the TC might not be exactly designed for our needs. Nevertheless, we consider it one of the most interesting vehicles we've been in and it's packed with features that we can't help but tell people about.

    For people or stuff?

    There are two main types of TC: Van and Wagon. The difference between the two is that the Wagon version comes with rear glass and seats, whereas the Van version is more of a panel van. Two wheelbase lengths -- XL and XLT -- offer size variations, but that's about it.

    Adding to the simplicity theme, there's only one powerplant: a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine, meaning fuel economy is decent for a vehicle of this type. Remember that the only alternatives to this sort of thing are larger, full-size vans such as the Ford E-series, Chevy Express, Dodge 2500 van, and the currently-unavailable Dodge Sprinter.

    Fuel numbers for the TC could improve if the company upgrades the transmission (the only one available right now is a four-speed with overdrive) and offers a direct injection version of their four-cylinder. Ford insiders tell us these could come down the road, but the Transit Connect needs to be cheap in order for it to make sense for buyers here and loading it up with engine technology would not be the way to do that (the current price starts at $20,780 -- less than $2,000 more than the Chevy HHR panel, a vehicle with less than half the cargo space and not nearly the same usability).

    With that baseline spare of options, the Transit Connect turns into something of a chameleon for its owners. And that's what we really like about it.

    VIDEO: Click below to watch our video on the Ford Transit Connect.

    Unique Innovations

    While the Transit Connect might seem about as exciting as a root canal, after a week we found ourselves wishing it would stick around our fleet. Of the things we loved about it, here are our favorites:

    • Work Solutions computer: The brains of Ford's "workplace solutions" system is actually a computer they've stuck in the center console. While it looks like the average navigation system (and yes, it's got one of those), it's actually much more powerful. Once the system loads (it does take a few minutes), you have access to the sorts of things you'd find on your laptop: there's word processing, email, a web browser and a host of other functions. Ford includes a wireless keyboard with trackpad, too. You can even hook up a printer so you can give a customer an invoice or a quote on the go.
    What Do You Think?
    After seeing the video, what do you think of the Ford Transit Connect?

    • Tool Link: In conjunction with the tool company Dewalt, Ford developed a way for you to keep track of all the tools in your vehicle. Using an RFID system (radio-frequency identification), your tools get "tagged" and the system checks to see if they're all are within the vehicle. If any of your tools are missing, they show up when you do your inventory, preventing the hassle of leaving without one. Although primarily for tools, anything can be wrapped -- think fishing poles, sports equipment, etc.

    • Fold-out doors: The Transit Connect has a massive opening in the rear in which to put about 135 cubic feet of your stuff. What's great is that the doors won't get in the way of all the loading and unloading you'll do, since the TC's rear doors swing open and stay held to the side of the vehicle by a simple -- but ingenious -- use of door magnets.

    The reality is that while these innovations were designed mostly for commercial usage, they're fantastic beyond that workaday usage. In fact, we'd go as far as to say we've seen more innovation here than we find in most luxury cars. Why? Because this stuff is actually useful, as opposed to the sometimes ridiculously unnecessary "luxury" found in higher end sedans and SUVs.

    Is the Transit Connect for everyone? No, but we hope that everyone working at a car company today gets a ride in one to see how they can innovate their products for their consumers.

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    Discuss
    1 - 20 of 141 Comments
    lafm2005 Feb 23, 2010 9:43 PM
    TOYOTA.........Moving Forward.............................even if you don't want to.
    Report This
    lafm2005 Feb 23, 2010 9:43 PM
    Ford *************, home run after home run with their new product offerings................and there's more to come.........Fiesta, the new Focus, the new Explorer
    Report This
    venturamickey Feb 22, 2010 9:30 PM
    Im having trouble explaining the tool inventory system to the illegal aliens my company is forced to hire because of Obama's union minions keepstriking for more money when times are toughest. Comprende Communisto Politico Bastardos?
    Report This
    chvy70camaro Feb 22, 2010 7:22 PM
    hey holly, the 'crappy' car company Ford, has a better quality ranking than toyota, honda, and nissan!! So does GM! pull your head out!!
    Report This
    campgal Feb 22, 2010 5:33 PM
    and a crappy statement from the same hollytomcarr.
    Report This
    wiz2daw Feb 22, 2010 8:54 AM
    Too bad as the "Transit" doesn't appear to benefit rural "Transit Companies" by being wheel chair accessable for passengers. Ford missed the boat on this one.
    Report This
    arnaudd57 Feb 22, 2010 6:09 AM
    You just need to go in Europe and check the number of those vehicles. This car is amazing, you can haul people and pack an amazing amount of stuff on the rear... and it's quite comfy inside. Great move from Ford to bring this type of vehicle here.
    Report This
    stevenrussell1 Feb 22, 2010 5:54 AM
    I'm a Ford person, and had a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT for a year and a half, until the Bank repossessed it. I loved my Explorer, and want to buy another one when God makes a way for me to do so. I am not at all impressed by the person above who entered a comment using profanity to describe the Ford Transit Connect, and the Ford Motor Company themselves. The Bible tells us that one of the signs that we're living in the end times, is that people will be boasters, heady, ungrateful, etc., lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. I am all for the Ford Transit Connect, as it provides yet another avenue and option for those who may find such a vehicle useful to meet their needs from a time-honored company, which has stood the test of time.
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    numbsie5 Feb 22, 2010 5:43 AM
    This sounds great Ford! I am a small business owner and need about 4 of these. They would be easy to outfit and keep my fuel load down being it is only 4 cyl. But the room is most important, and it seems to have that too. I think it is the perfect Van/Truck/Car/Hauler, that all business's need to start a fleet. Thanks Ford....I may order them as soon as this spring.
    Report This
    hollytomcarr Feb 22, 2010 4:54 AM
    another ugly car from a crappy car car company!
    Report This
    twylghtzne Feb 22, 2010 4:14 AM
    I've been driving the XLT since August after using a Chevy Astro for years. The shorter bed and taller roof takes some getting used to compared to the Astro, but I love the thing otherwise. It 's ride is surprisingly comfortable and it's great for congested urban environments (I'm in Chicago) where parking in tight spaces is frequently necessary. Gas mileage is not too shabby and has decent pickup for a 4 cylinder.
    Report This
    twylghtzne Feb 22, 2010 4:14 AM
    I've been driving the XLT since August after using a Chevy Astro for years. The shorter bed and taller roof takes some getting used to compared to the Astro, but I love the thing otherwise. It 's ride is surprisingly comfortable and it's great for congested urban environments (I'm in Chicago) where parking in tight spaces is frequently necessary. Gas mileage is not too shabby and has decent pickup for a 4 cylinder.
    Report This
    wbrad8248 Feb 22, 2010 4:11 AM
    Clearly an accesories video and not a basic operating information/cost to operate video. Leads me to think that it may not be such a good vehicle and more of a bells and whistles item.
    Report This
    garmurray Feb 22, 2010 3:56 AM
    To tall for other cars to look for traffic.
    Report This
    pj323jp Feb 22, 2010 3:36 AM
    Would have preferred a video with basic information. ************* Sienna makes more sense to me. It's larger with two wide sliding doors offering easy access. Take out the tools and put the seats back in for weekend family outings. Lots of low mileage Siennas on the market for half the price.
    Report This
    chvy70camaro Feb 22, 2010 3:35 AM
    wow, i dunno, the frogs and nazis might like this!
    Report This
    uoflchrmom Feb 22, 2010 3:22 AM
    Could this guy mumble any more?? VERY difficult to understand what he says and he is barely audible sometimes. I had to listen 3 times to get the address at the end of the video.
    Report This
    harunksteve Feb 22, 2010 2:55 AM
    It's a tall windstar........
    Report This
    ecbuda3 Feb 22, 2010 2:55 AM
    I want 1!!!!!!
    Report This
    slowner89 Feb 22, 2010 2:52 AM
    That is one hideous car.....sell it in france, the french will deff. like it.
    Report This
    1 - 20 of 141 Comments
     
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    The Ford Transit Connect is one of the most interesting vehicles we've been in and it's packed with features we can't help but tell people about.
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