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Auto Show:  2011 Chicago Auto Show

2011 Ford Transit Connect - Chicago Auto Show

author photo by Autotrader February 2011
February 14, 2011

After just over a year since its launch in United States, you might have noticed Ford’s Transit Connect in your town. Used by plumbers, electricians and flower shops, these upright, two-box “truckettes” are plying the urbs and ‘burbs with any and all sorts of commercial handiwork. And happily, the Transit Connect goes about its mobile mission with a far smaller footprint than Detroit has historically given us, one that is more efficient and surprisingly accommodating.

Ford also builds a passenger variant with a rear seat displacing some of the vehicle’s cavernous cargo area, and windows replacing the sheetmetal that graces the work version. TheTC is in no danger of displacing Toyota’s Scion xB in the minds and hearts of hipsters, but a model with room for four or five is close to the original xB concept.

Notably, the Scion xB has been repurposed as a Chicago taxi, and the Transit Connect is doing the same, its vertical proportions now graced by Yellow Cab’s palette and graphics. With first deliveries scheduled for March, Ford had demonstration rides available at the 2011 Chicago auto show.

Beyond color, changes made to the Transit Connect for taxi service are few. The second row seat is repositioned for more legroom, rear ventilation (with controls) should be worth a buck a mile during a Chicago summer, while a rear view camera and back-up sensor should enhance what is already good visibility, given the glass area and upright seating.

Reaction from the pros is encouraging. John makes his living with a not-so-new Crown Victoria and would appreciate the TC’s spaciousness and legroom. He’s sold on the idea: “Kinda like a London cab,” he said.

Despite the Transit Connect’s practicality and environmental sensitivity (early units will all run on compressed natural gas), Chicago still has some work to do. One idea would be to implement a credit card reader as they do in New York City. This makes charging the fare entirely too easy (although Chicago cabbies don’t seem inclined to take plastic).

DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2011 Ford Transit Connect - Chicago Auto Show - Autotrader