Admittedly, the 2018 Ford Transit Connect Wagon has limited appeal, but it can work within the limited budgets of many families. Or for any businesses that ferry people around on a regular basis. This compact vehicle has 2-row or 3-row seating, big side windows and generous cargo space all working in its favor.
It’s not the most stylish of runarounds, but it can handle the school run, holiday weekend road trips or the airport pickup with more maneuverability than a minivan. The Transit Connect is based on one of Ford’s European vehicles, developed to cope with awkward ancient city layouts, tight streets and a variety of corners.
What’s New for 2018?
What We Like
Small and nimble package; reasonably priced; two wheelbase lengths
What We Don’t
Lower trim levels are sparsely equipped; so-so fuel economy; no slide or recline function for the second-row seats
Propulsion comes from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 169 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission that sends drive to the front wheels only.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 19 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Ford Transit Connect Wagon is a passenger vehicle based on the Transit Connect cargo van with full windows all around, dual sliding side doors and a choice of rear cargo doors (that open 180 degrees) or a tailgate. It’s offered with a short wheelbase (104.8 inches) or a long wheelbase (120.6 inches).
The short-wheelbase Wagon has five seats, while the long-wheelbase Wagon adds a third seating row for 7-passenger capacity. Both the second-row and third-row seats fold flat and can be removed.
XL trim ($27,020) comes only with the long wheelbase, along with three seating rows, power second-row windows, rear climate controls and rear parking sensors. Other equipment includes 16-in steel wheels, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, air conditioning, vinyl upholstery and floor covering, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a folding front passenger seat and an AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary input, plus a couple of rear speakers.
XLT comes with either the short wheelbase ($27,025) or long wheelbase ($29,025). It has a self-dimming rearview mirror, fog lights, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails, a 4.2-in driver information display with steering wheel controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth upholstery, cruise control, a CD player, four speakers at the front, Ford MyKey with programmable usage restrictions, voice control, a rearview camera and an upgraded driver’s seat with manual lumbar adjustment. There are no rear climate controls with the short-wheelbase XLT.
Titanium, available as a short-wheelbase ($29,650) or long-wheelbase model ($31,650), brings 16-in alloy wheels, adaptive fog lights that follow the steering, power-folding side mirrors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 6-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, separate manual rear climate controls, Sync voice command functionality and the Sync 3 infotainment system with a 6.5-in touchscreen.
Some of the higher-end standard features are available as options on lesser models. Other options — depending on trim and configuration — include navigation, 17-in alloy wheels, a fixed panoramic sunroof, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, satellite/HD radio and front parking sensors.
When the second-row seats in the short-wheelbase version are folded down, cargo space measures 77.1 cu ft. If the seats are in place, there’s still a considerable 46.9 cu ft.
Long-wheelbase versions can accommodate 104.2 cu ft. of cargo space behind the front seats. Behind the second row, it’s 58.9 cu ft. With the third row set as far forward as it will go, there’s 19.8 cu ft.; when it’s moved back as far as possible for legroom, there’s 15.7 cu ft.
In both versions, the back seats fold down to form a completely flat load floor.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, hill-start assist, stability control, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags for each seating row. Ford’s Curve Control is also standard. This feature is essentially a more sophisticated form of stability control, where it can cut engine power and apply the brakes automatically if necessary.
In government crash tests, the Transit Connect Wagon received an impressive five stars out of five overall, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. It hasn’t been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Behind the Wheel
The Transit Connect Wagon’s dashboard consists of no-nonsense materials, and its tidy control layout is similar to the Focus. Equipment levels range from sparse in the XL to almost lavish in the Titanium, which provides many convenience features for family-minded buyers. The second and third rows of seats have sensible contours, and the tall roof means plenty of headroom in all seating positions.
Ride and handling feel agile and composed. However, some bigger road bumps will be felt and heard in the cabin.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Mercedes-Benz Metris Passenger Van — Bigger and more expensive, but still a useful, well-judged size and perfectly capable. Now comes with the choice of a longer wheelbase.
2018 Ram ProMaster City — Also based on a European van, with class-leading power. No option for a third row, though.
Used Toyota Sienna — Spacious, comfortable and more family-friendly. It’s also the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive.
It might seem like hedging one’s bets to recommend the middle-range XLT trim, but the XL is a bit on the sparse side. Once we get to the Titanium price level, something like a Honda Odyssey minivan might be a smarter call, not only from an equipment point of view, but also from a resale value angle.