When I covered scooter alternative vehicles last year, a couple of readers wrote in talking about my choices and my reasoning for those scooter alternative vehicles. It was a fun way to get some information out about some ultra-small vehicles that might be perfect transportation for some. As scooterists, we probably all agree that it would be great to ride everyday or maybe even have a scooter as one’s only private transportation. With real-life, however (weather, family, friends), a compromise is needed. My ideal vehicle last year was something like the smart fortwo. It seemed that the fortwo could be used as an alternative to a scooter and would probably cover commuting and kid/school drop-off duties just fine. My current car, a MINI Cooper S, handled that duty just fine, although not a economically as I had envisioned.
And then reality hit. I loved my MINI, but soon realized that being in a family with my wife and our active 6-year old daughter dictated a more roomy and less selfish choice for my next vehicle. With that in mind, I set about selecting a new vehicle. A four-cylinder engine was the most I could reasonably ask for in these economically uncertain times. A modern four-cylinder with minimal emissions and reasonable economy on regular unleaded would fit the bill. I’m from the Midwest, and we like our North American-based suppliers (MINI notwithstanding), so the domestics got an edge. One more thing, the new vehicle had to feature enough room for our family, plus camping gear. And of course, a scooter in the back (not at the same time!) There is almost exactly one choice that fits these requirements, so we bought a Ford Transit Connect from Elder Ford in Troy. Todd Hanoosh was our sales consultant and he handled the transaction quickly and professionally.
The Transit Connect is a Ford Focus-based, Euro-flavored, commercial cargo carrier. It was designed as an urban cargo transporter and has accomplished it’s task wonderfully, winning the European Truck of the Year in 2003 and the North American Truck of the Year in 2010. I’m a fan of it’s minimalist design sensibility and pragmatic, cavernous space. Although it’s a commercial vehicle, there are passenger versions sold worldwide, including for the livery service and coming soon to Boston and New York. Currently, the only U.S. drivetrain choice is a 2.0 liter gasoline engine with an antiquated-four speed automatic transmission. The Transit Connect is made in Otosan, Turkey and the engine comes from Spain. Next year, an updated version of the Transit Connect will be built worldwide, and an all-electric version (for fleet use, so far) will be built in Kansas.
We specified the XLT version with the “wagon” option. This got us seating for five with the back seat folding (in two pieces) up against the front seats. With the left-side rear seats folded, there is almost exactly six feet of room (measured slightly diagonally) to the back doors. That easily accommodates the longer of my two scooters (Bajaj) and the tall ceiling easily clears the mirrors. Once my Condor Scooter Chock gets here, I’m going to try fitting two scooters in the back by tilting the other back seat up. We also plumped for the 255-degree opening doors to ease loading and the rear parking sensors to ease backing-up with the limited visibility directly behind and below. Check the slideshow for a few custom touches I’ve already added.
We love our Transit Connect. We’ve dubbed it “the Tardis” for it’s incredible “larger on the inside than on the outside” cargo-carrying capabilities. Although it sports that low-tech four-speed automatic, I can report almost 24 overall MPG on regular unleaded gasoline. With 136 horsepower and 128 lb.-ft. of torque, it’s no rocket, but the on-ramp is the only place where one notices. We all know that it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow!
I’m looking forward to many happy family camping events and just the idea of having a scooter-toting, rally-chasing, fun, truckvan in the driveway is getting me revved up for scooter rally season.
What’s next: CFMOTO roadshow!