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Ford Transit Connect review (2013-on)

The bestselling small van - for good reason

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

PROS

  • Best in class fuel economy
  • High payload ratings
  • Good to drive

CONS

  • Petrol engine lacks torque
  • Bulkhead intrudes into load area
  • Pre-facelift cabin slightly pokey

Summary

The second-generation Ford Transit Connect was introduced in 2013, and picks up where the previous generation left off - it's a capable small van that aims to beat the most practical rivals while offering a car-like driving experience

A facelift in 2018 brings it bang up-to-date with the latest small vans as well; we've more details on this below.

The Transit Connect is a very strong product for Ford, and sells in big numbers - typically finding more buyers than any other small van in the UK.

This is no surprise, as it’s great to drive, practical, fuel-efficient, and Ford has a vast light commericial vehicle (LCV) dealer network.

>> The UK's bestselling vans and pickups

Ford Transit Connect (2013-on) L2 front view

The closest rivals in sales terms are the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo, though small van buyers should also consider the VW Caddy (for quality and driving refinement), the closely related Fiat Doble Cargo and Vauxhall Combo (for functionality and payload), and the Renault Kangoo for neat solutions (including an electric version).

>> The Parkers Vans guide to electric vans

Ford Transit Connect offers lots of choice

The Ford Transit Connect offers a great deal of choice.

There are three trm levels - Base, Trend and Limited - petrol and diesel engines, five- or six-speed gearboxes, and even fuel-saving Econetic versions, which offer the lowest possible running costs.

Two bodylengths are available – short-wheelbase (SWB) L1 and long-wheelbase (LWB) L2 – and you can order the Connect as a panel van, Double-Cab-in-Van (DCiV) or a Kombi passenger carrier.

There are a variety of load lashing and door options, too.

Ford Transit Connect (2013-on) front view L1

Both bodylengths can fit two Euro pallets inside, while the L1 will take objects up to 3.0 metres in length and the L2 3.4 metres in length thanks to a clever hatch system, which when combined with the folding front seat arrangement means longer loads can be carried with ease.

For full details of the Ford Transit Connect's load area and carrying capacity, see our dedicated Dimensions section by clikcing the tab above.

Reliability appears to be strong.

Correctly specified, it is also the most fuel-efficient van in its class.

>> Best small vans for mpg

Ford Transit Connect 2018 facelift

Ford has announced an updated version of the Transit Connect, which is set to go on sale in mid-2018.

Ford Transit Connect 2018 facelift front view

You can read more details about this by clicking here.

 


 

Ford Transit Connect: the Parkers Vans verdict

If you're in the market for a small van, it makes sense to start the selection process with the Transit Connect as your benchmark.

A wide range of models plus good availability through the Ford dealer network means that it's likely there's a version to suit your needs, pricing is keen and it has plenty of practical features.

Strong sales means there are plenty of used examples on the market to choose from as well.

This doesn't mean it will be perfect for everyone. But as an all-rounder, the Transit Connect really is tough to beat.


Ford Transit Connect driving experience

4 out of 5 4.0

The Ford Transit Connect is not short of engine options - so whether you want an ultra-fuel efficient diesel, cleaner-burning petrol or plenty of power, you should be able to find something that suits you.

Unless it's an electric van - in whcih case look to the Renault Kangoo or Nissan e-NV200 for the best possible driving range.

Ford Transit Connect diesel engines

At launch in 2013, this generation of Transit Connect was available with a trio of 1.6-litre TDCI turbodiesel engines offering power outputs of 75hp, 95hp and 115hp.

Over time, these were phased out in favour of a newer 1.5-litre engine, delivering 75hp, 100hp or 120hp.

Ford Transit Connect (2013-on) driving experience

Regardless of size, the diesel engines we’ve driven have proved surprisingly smooth, refined and quiet. There’s enough poke on offer to easily transport half-laden test vans (including two front occupants) thanks to a decent wave of torque.

The steering also feels more assured with the heavier diesel compared to the lighter petrol models, which makes it better suited to higher speed A- and B-road use.

What's the Transit Connect 1.0-litre EcoBoost like?

If you do prefer petrol, Ford has chosen to fit this van with its 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo engine – a 100hp three-cylinder unit which is incredibly light and small while promsing impressive feul economy at the same time.

Though an intriguing idea, having driven it loaded with around half the maximum payload we’d suggest it’s better suited to city centres than open road driving since it lacks the torque associated with a diesel engine.

Ford Transit Connect (2013-on) rear view driving

Petrol power is not especially popular in the UK van market, but we can see applications for florists or similar traders, esepcially as cities and towns begin to clamp down on diesel particulate and NOx emissions.

Ford Transit Connect handling and comfort

On the road the Connect feels very car-like to drive, and by that we mean it’s very accomplished

The five- and six-speed manual gearboxes are slick in operation and the driving position is very good for a van.

More than this, though, the steering is sharp and responsive, you always feel confident that there's plenty of grip, and the suspension does a good job of controlling body roll in the corners.

Add entirely acceptable ride quality and the low noise levels inside we've already mentiioned, and you've got a composed, friendly to drive van that should make even long-distance journeys perfectly pleasant.

Ford Transit Connect cabin & interior

4 out of 5 4.0

If you’ve driven a similarly modern Ford car recently, the Transit Connect’s cabin should feel fairly familiar, as much of the design and layout is similar.

What's good about the Ford Transit Connect's cab interior

There’s an four-way adjustable driver’s seat as standard - with eight-way adjustment which is not only comfortable but well-positioned for all of the controls. The plastics used feel tough rather than plush, but this bodes well for the cabin staying presentable over time.

All panel van models come with a full steel bulkhead for added safety.

It's also worth noting the large door mirrors, which include a built-in blind spot eliminator, giving you greater rearward visibility than you get in most other small vans.

Ford Transit Connect (2013-on) cab interior

At launch in 2013 it was certainly one of the nicest van cabs on the market, and still makes the Renault Kangoo, Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo feel rather cheap and nasty (although the latter pairing are due to be replaced in 2018).

The latest VW Caddy is probably a nicer place to spend long periods of time now, but the Transit Connect remains spacious and comfortable, and set to be further improved by the mid-life facelift, due to arrive in September 2018.

What's not so good about the Ford Transit Connect's cab interior?

The windscreen is a long way away, and it may take you a moment or two to adjust to placing this van on the road as a result.

Worse than this, however, is that the centre console is an absolute button fest, and even when you're quite familiar with the van it can still take you a while to remember what you need to press to get the infotainment system to do what you want. The tiny screen doesn't help.

The dual passenger seat - optional on Base models, standard on Trend and Limited - is more of 1.5-seater really. There's a third seatbelt, but you'll struggle to fit an adult passenger in the middle with serious complaint.

Underneath this, however, you'll find a decent sized storage area.

Trend and Limited panel vans also come with a load-through bulkhead as standard. A handy feature, but one you can only use if you aren't carrying any passengers.

Ford Transit Connect mpg, costs & value

4 out of 5 4.0

The lowest Transit Connect running costs come from the short-wheelbase L1 Econetic model, which is only available in Base spec.

This has claimed average fuel economy of as much as 72.4mpg if you have the optional 62mph speed limiter installed – other fuel-saving features such as stop-start, an active grille shutter and brake energy recuperation are standard on all Econetic models.

>> The best small vans for mpg

Ford Transit Connect (2013-on) mpg, costs, value

Stop-start is also available across most of the rest of the range. If you want a higher-spec Connect with good economy, go for a diesel engine with enough performance to cope with the weight you're likely to carry.

The petrol model with its 1.0-litre turbocharged engine claims up to 50.4mpg on paper, but our experience with this engine suggests you'll need to be a saint to achieve this. It's a keen engine that enjoys being thrashed, which doesn't help...

Ford Transit Connect standard equipment

There are three trim levels available on the Transit Connect: Base, Trend and Limited. Here are the details.

Ford Transit Connect Base standard equipment highlights (as of May 2018):

  • Reach and rake adjustable steering wheel
  • Electric windows
  • DAB radio with USB connectivity and Bluetooth
  • Overhead storage
  • Full steel bulkhead
  • Sliding side door on passenger side
  • Immobiliser
  • 16-inch steel wheels

Ford Transit Connect Limited standard equipment highlights (in addition to Base):

  • Ford Sync infotainment system with voice control and four speakers
  • Eight-way adjustable driver's seat with lumber support
  • Dual passenger seat (see the Cabin & Interior section) on panel van only
  • Load-through bulkhead on panel van, movable mesh bulkhead on DCiV
  • Plastic load liner (panel van only)
  • Body coloured front bumper
  • Foglights
  • Electric, heated door mirrors
  • Heated windscreen and washer jets
  • 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps

Ford Transit Connect Limited standard equipment highlights (in addition to Trend):

  • Air-conditioning
  • Cruise control with speed limiter
  • Heated driver's seat
  • Chrome interior door handles
  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel
  • Body-coloured extgerior door handles, door mirrors and side moldings
  • Automatic lights and wipers
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Thatcham Category 1 Alarm
  • Chrome detailing
  • 16-inch alloy wheels

As you can see, you do get plenty of extra kit as you upgrade through the model range - it's just a question of what you think you really need versus the asking price.

Better specced vans will be worth more when you come to sell them again, but you shouldn't expect to get back all the difference.

Remember also that painted bumpers will be more costly to repair or replace should they be damaged. Limited models are only available with the most powerful diesel engine and as a panel van, too.

No Transit Connect comes with sat-nav as standard; Ford's system isn't the greatest anyway, so you may be better off saving the cash and grabbing a decent mount for your smartphone.

Ford Transit Connect reliability, common problems & faults

4 out of 5 4.0

There shouldn't be a huge amount to worry about here. Ford Transit Connect reliability has been proven over millions of miles and the engines and gearboxes employed here have been in use with myriad other Ford products.

Ford Transit Connect safety & security

4.5 out of 5 4.5

Ford has used a number of different types of steel to construct the body of the Transit Connect, the theory being that it’s strong where it needs to be without being too heavy.

Ford Transit Connect (2013-on) safety and security

Beyond this, Ford Transit Connect safety kit varies with trim level.

Ford Transit Connect standard safety equipment

Base spec vans get ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), electronic brake force distribution, and a driver’s airbag. Most also include a full-size spare wheel, too.

Trend models add front fog lights and a heated windscreen.

Top-spec Limited models add cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and static cornering headlights.

Ford Transit Connect optional active safety systems

The Connect was the first van in its class to offer a low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system for city driving.

But while this is now standard across the VW Caddy range, it remains optional on the Ford.

Beyond this, you can also spec lane-keeping warning and assistance systems, blind spot monitors, front parking sensors and a rear-view parking camera.

Up to six airbags are available as well.

Ford Transit Connect security

In terms of security, all models feature remote locking and an immobiliser, but only Limited includes a standard fit alarm.

Our advice is always to never leave anything valuable in the van if you can possibly avoid it. Not much will prevent a determined thief from cutting inside using power tools.

Which Ford Transit Connect is best for me?

The Transit Connect is typically the bestselling small van in the UK – though the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo run it close. Ford’s extensive dealer network means there’s usually a plentiful of supply of new examples, and this sales success means you shouldn’t struggle to find a used one, either.

>> New Ford Transit Connect vans for sale

>> Used Ford Transit Connect vans for sale

But with such a broad range, how do you know which version is best for your needs? Let’s see if we can help.

Best Ford Transit Connect for running costs

That’s easy – one of the Econetic versions. These are specially adapted to be as efficient as possible, so even if you’ve got a stupidly heavy right foot you should still see impressive mpg.

Want to save even more fuel? Then consider a 62mph speed limiter – just don’t come crying to us when you’re crawling along with the lorries on the M6.

So equipped, these are the most fuel-efficient small vans you can buy.

The petrol-powered versions are not a good choice if you want a fuel efficient van over long distances. But they produce fewer harmful particulate emissions, so are better for clean air in towns and cities.

>> Best small vans for mpg

Best Ford Transit Connect for payload

Again, Ford makes this quite straight forward for by offering clearly labelled High Payload versions, capable of carrying nearly 1,000kg (1.0 tonne).

If payload is your absolute priority, however, you might also consider the Fiat Doblo Cargo and its Vauxhall Combo cousin (discontinued in 2018) – as both of these can carry over 1,000kg.

Full details of load area and carrying capacity can be found in our dedicated Ford Transit Connect dimensions section.

>> Best small vans for payload

Best Ford Transit Connect for value / standard equipment

Most small van buyers and operators are extremely cost-conscious, so the good news is that even Transit Connect Base models are well equipped from the factory.

Given the opportunity we’d still upgrade to a Trend, which features improved comfort and practicality features that are very worthwhile.

Only Limited models feature air-con, cruise control and parking sensors as standard, though – so if you value these features be sure to carefully compare their individual cost with the ‘walk-up’ from Trend to Limited to see which makes the most sense for you.


Ford Transit Connect individual model reviews

Want to know more about the original 1.6-litre TDCI engine, launched in 2013? Keep reading…

Ford Transit Connect Trend 1.6 TDCi 95 LWB L2 review

Tested in February 2014 by Gareth Evans

Ford Transit Connect Trend L2 review - rear doors open

  • Ford's smaller Transit - the Connect - put to task on UK roads
  • Trend specification not top-seller, but makes sense to us
  • Priced from £16,321 (excl. VAT) and available to order now

There’s no disputing it – the previous version of the Ford Transit Connect was feeling its age. Not only had the engines fallen way out of kilter with modernity’s drive for ultra-efficiency, but the styling was starting to feel aged too.

It’s a case of ‘about time too’, then, as the firm ushers in this all-new Connect with its freshly styled face and range of engines which return brilliant fuel economy and emit far less CO2, meaning all sorts of tax breaks. We’ve been driving one of the most impressive versions – a long wheelbase ‘L2’ model in Trend trim, fitted with the firm’s 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine with 95hp.

The L2 has the biggest load area in the range.

Ford Transit Connect Trend L2 review - side view, door open

According to Ford, it’ll also return an impressive 65.7mpg average fuel economy if you’re particularly careful with your right foot, which means it’s one seriously frugal van.

To do achieve that you will need to spend £300 on the Fuel Economy Pack, however, which gets a grille which shuts automatically to boost aerodynamics and a stop/start system.

What's it like to drive?

Out on the road the engine pulls well, developing its maximum torque of 230Nm between 1,500 and 2,000rpm.

This van has an impressively high braked towing weight of 1,200kg, and Ford says it put a Connect through a six-month continuous towing test at max payload to check it can do the business.

Ford Transit Connect Trend L2 review - 1.6-litre TDCi 95 engine

Encounter a steep hill, though, and you will have to drop down at least one of the car’s five manual gears to get the engine spinning with enough gusto to keep making progress.

That said, motorway speeds are reached in an acceptable period of time and it’s absolutely fine around town, pulling keenly and smoothly from nice and low in the rev range.

The gearbox itself – and the rest of the van, actually – works exactly like a Ford car. And we mean that in a good way.

Is the Ford Transit Connect easy to drive?

This larger L2 model has a 12.2m turning circle between a pair of kerbs, which means it’s easy to coax in and out of parking spaces.

Our van also featured a clever rear-view parking camera (which costs £300 and displays through the rear-view mirror that you didn’t think you needed) and rear parking sensors, which go hand-in-hand towards making your life easier in car parks.

Ford Transit Connect Trend L2 review - rear-view camera

The display on the rear-view mirror is incredibly crisp and clear, but we can’t help thinking it would benefit from being a little larger.

Transit Connect options tested

There were a few more optional extras on our test vehicle, too.

The City Safety Pack, costing £250, includes a system which will automatically brake the van at low speeds if it detects an impending collision. We tested this to the extreme in an off-road environment and can confirm it works well, stopping the van dead below 15mph. Automatic headlights are also included in the package.

That metallic grey paint costs £300, while manual air-conditioning is a hefty £600. An LED load box light costs £40.

Our model’s list price was £16,321.36 ex. VAT at the time of writing, and £18,111.36 ex. VAT with all of the optional extras included.

Verdict

There’s not much to complain about here. The Transit Connect drives well, it’s efficient, it has a large load area for this size of van and it’s got a fair amount of kit thrown in too.

Ford Transit Connect Trend L2 review - verdict

The only question is whether you need all those options. If you’re adept at parking and don’t drive in cities a lot then you can save yourself £550 by simply ignoring the rear-view camera and the City Safety Pack.

Does the £300 Fuel Economy Pack pay for itself considering the mileage you cover? It’s worth doing to sums to find out.