2010 Ford Transit Connect

2010 Ford Transit Connect

The 2010 Ford Transit Connect, a small commercial van to be introduced this summer, has been rated by the US Environmental Protection Agency at 22 miles per gallon city / 25 mpg highway.

That's significantly better than the highest-mileage version of its full-size 2009 Ford Econoline E-150 delivery van, fitted with a 225-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine, which comes in at 14 mpg city / 18 mpg highway. (The big van does have a 35-gallon tank, though!)

The front-wheel-drive Transit Connect is a new class of vehicle that Ford hasn't previously offered here. Small delivery vans have been familiar to Europeans for decades, but they're just now returning to the United States for the first time since the 1960s.

In fact, the last comparable vehicle may have been the Morris Minor pickup and panel van sold in the US from 1958 to 1961.

The current Transit Connect model was launched in 2003, and to date more than 600,000 have been sold in 55 countries.

With a payload of 1600 pounds, 135 cubic feet of space, and a 2.0-liter engine, the $21,500 Transit Connect is likely to be used in urban environments and for smaller, lighter loads where a full-size van would be overkill. Think your local florist, not the lumber supply yard.

Its only U.S. competitor is the recent panel-van version of the 2009 Chevrolet HHR, which has a higher load floor and less than half the cargo-bay space. Reflecting its origin as a passenger vehicle, the HRR panel van has hinged rear side doors, while those of the Transit Connect slide (like the rear doors of a minivan).

Ford will also offer a wagon version of the 2010 Transit Connect, with side windows and afolding second-row bench seat that holds either two or three additional passengers.

Sometime in 2010, Ford will also release limited numbers of an electric version of the Transit Connect. It will have a range "close to 100 miles". The gasoline version will arrive at dealers this summer.

2010 Ford Transit Connect

2010 Ford Transit Connect

[SOURCE: Ford]