by Michael Butler
Just because you drive a cargo van doesn't mean you have to suffer behind the wheel or look like a questionable character while driving; the 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van offers Euro styling, car-like handling, and a comfortable interior that blurs the lines between a cargo van and car. The 2020 model adds a number of standard features such as standard automatic headlamps, and XLT models also get advanced equipment such as a wireless phone charger and pedestrian detection. Both the XL and XLT are powered by a 2.0-liter four-pot engine, which isn't a power monster but gets the job done, and with a starting price of $24,275, it offers good value for money.
The 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van is at the receiving end of several significant feature additions for the new decade. The exterior now features standard automatic headlamps on/off and configurable daytime running lights, as well as rain-sensing windshield wipers. XLT models get PowerFold heated exterior mirrors. Ford Co-Pilot360 is now standard on the XLT trim and includes blinds-pot assistance, cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist driver awareness alert, and numerous other safety assistance systems. For 2020 the Guard Metallic color, as well as Titanium Premium Package has been deleted.
The Transit Connect is a good looking cargo van when compared to competitors such as the Nissan NV200, and we appreciate the Euro-look of the front end. Standard exterior features on the base model include 180-degree swing-out rear cargo doors, auto headlamps, rain-sensing front wipers, and an Easy Fuel Capless Fuel-Filler. Higher spec XLT models get halogen foglights and optional extras such as roof rails, a rear liftgate with fixed glass, as well as auto high-beam headlights.
The Transit Connect comes in short and long-wheelbase versions, so the dimensions vary significantly according to configuration. The SWB cars get a 104.8-inch wheelbase and measure 174.2 inches in total length. Including mirrors, the SWB is 84.1 inches wide. The LWB van rolls on a 120.6-inch wheelbase and measures 190 inches in total length and shares the same width. The SWB weighs in at 3,581 pounds, while the LWB weighs 3,713 lbs.
Powering the 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four engine which produces 162 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and start/stop technology is standard. Unladen, the Transit Connect feels peppy enough around town, but get onto the highway, and things take a turn for the worse; you'll be able to get up to cruising speed, but forget about any quick overtaking maneuvers. The max payload for both the SWB and LWB is 1,510 pounds, and both are able to tow a maximum of 2,000 pounds.
Ford cargo vans have been impressing motor journalists with their car-like handling for years, and the 2020 Transit Connect Cargo Van is no different; it will remain composed way past the point at which any regular cargo van should and instills a sense of confidence that's usually reserved for compact pedestrian SUVs and the sort, one of its main rivals, the Nissan NV200, is also a good handling little cargo van, but the Ford feels more car-like. Steering in the Transit Connect is light but precise enough not to feel sloppy at highway speeds. We did notice however, that the ride becomes bouncy at low speeds when driving over bumpy terrain.
Gas mileage is on par with the rest of the small cargo van class; the 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van will return an EPA estimated 24/27/25 mpg city/highway/combined in LWB format. The Transit Connect has a party trick up its sleeve, however; it can run on E85, which is cheaper than regular gas, but you also pay a price; the Transit's gas mileage figures drop all the way down to 18/29/19 mpg when being fed corn juice. In comparison, the Nissan NV200, also powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter engine, will return a similar 24/26/25 mpg. The 2020 Transit Connect comes fitted with a 15.8-gallon fuel tank which gives it an estimated maximum range of 351 miles on E85, and 411 on regular gas.
Being a natural cargo van, the 2020 Ford Transit Connect will only seat two people, legally. What this means is that there's tons of room for both occupants above the head, in front of the knees, and besides the hips. The official measurements read as follows: front headroom is a massive 46.9 inches, perfect for those seven-foot-tall delivery guys. Legroom is measured at 41.5 inches, shoulder room comes in at 57.6 inches, and there are 54.2 inches of hip room. The total passenger volume is 63.2 cubic feet.
The only reason people buy cargo vans is that they offer lots of space in the back, so if you want to be successful in the cargo van market, um, make sure that your cargo van offers a lot of space. The Transit Connect is up there with its contemporaries. In SWB format, the Transit Connect offers a floor-length of 71.8 inches, dropping to 61.3 at the beltline. Maximum cargo height is 49.7 inches, there is 48.7 inches of space between the wheel housings, and the side door opening height and width comes in at 44.4 and 24.2 inches respectfully. The rear door opening is 47.3 inches tall and 49.2 inches wide. The load floor height at curb weight is 23 inches. LWB models get an 87.6-inch long floor length, going down to 77 from beltline measurement, a side door opening width of 44.4 inches, a rear door opening width of 32.8 inches, and an opening height of 45.5. With all seats in place, the LWB model offers 127.4 cubic feet or cargo volume and SWB vans get 104.8 cubic feet.
As far as cargo vans go, the Transit Connect doesn't do too bad for itself, and even the base model, which one would think should be as utilitarian as they come, offer some nice features that offer a near-civilian driving experience. XL models feature 180-degree swing-out rear cargo doors, rain-sensing front wipers, and an Easy Fuel capless fuel-filler. Inside, you get basics such as manual climate control, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, and four-way passenger seat, all wrapped in vinyl. Advanced tech such as keyless entry and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity are welcomed additions. The range-topping XLT is available with fanciful features such as HID headlights with cornering fog lights and gets standard power-adjustable, PowerFold, heated exterior mirrors, as well as blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist and cruise control.
You're not going to be hosting international DJ sensation David Guetta from the back of the Transit Cargo Van, but you will be able to entertain yourself and your co-pilot on long journeys. The base model features a 4.2-inch LCD multi-function display with steering wheel controls and four speakers in the front. This system gets basics such as AM/FM radio with Bluetooth and one USB port. The XLT shares the XL's screen and four-speaker sound system but adds Ford's excellent SYNC 3 infotainment management system, voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, two smart-charging USB ports, the all-important 911 Assist feature, as well as more advanced goodies such as Applink, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a wireless charging pad. The open plan of the Transit Connect means that the four speakers sound tinny and lose their punch, but Living After Midnight by Judas Priest sounds good in any cargo van.
The Transit Connect Cargo Van will be expected to work hard during its lifetime and do so on a regular basis, so reliability is a crucial factor. We're happy to report that the Transit Connect has proven to be quite the reliable workhorse. Since 2018 it has only been recalled once for a minor issue with the front seats. Ford will cover the 2020 Transit Connect Cargo Van with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, which includes a five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain and roadside assistance warranty and five years worth of corrosion cover.
The Ford Transit Connect Van was given a five out of five-star rating by the NHTSA back in 2018, which is an impressive feat for something that is basically a container on wheels. Although 2020 models have not been tested by either the NHTSA or IIHS, they should prove to be more than safe enough. XLT models gain standard blind-spot monitoring, pre-collision assist with auto forward braking, rear cross-traffic assistance, and lane departure warning as standard for 2020.
The 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van straddles the line between utilitarian workhorse and civilized daily transporter: its attractive Euro-centric exterior styling and comfortable interior will lead you to believe you're behind the wheel of some sort of compact SUV, and so will its easy to drive nature. However, the Connect still gets the job done. Its 2.0-liter gas engine is somewhat underpowered, and the base model doesn't offer the most in terms of features, but there's enough to get by. The XLT model impressed us with its solid driver assistance features and good tech features such as SiriusXM radio and wireless charging. If you run a small business in and around a city center, then this car is right up your alley.
Ford offers the 2020 Transit Connect Cargo Van at a very reasonable $24,275 in SWB guise. This price does not include tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,295. The Nissan NV200 starts at a cheaper $22,830, and to get behind the wheel of a proper Ford Transit Cargo Van will set you back $34,510. Going for an LWB XL will set you back $25,275. XLT models start at $26,700 for SWB models, rising to $27,700 for LWB models.
The range-topping XLT demands a premium of only $2,425 over the base model XL and offers a number of added features that make it well worth the extra cost. We already love the fact that the Connect offers a bunch of car-like characteristics such as its relatively dynamic handling capabilities, handsome exterior styling, and comfortable interior, but the XLT takes things a step further, especially in the safety department. For 2020, XLT vans get standard power mirrors, but more importantly, it is at the receiving end of Ford's Co-Pilot360 active driver assistance package, which adds a number of tech features. This package includes auto high beam headlights, blind-spot assistance with cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist and alert, driver awareness assistance, and pre-collision assist with auto forward braking. Also included are pedestrian detection and dynamic brake support. The XLT makes driving a cargo van not so bland.
The 2020 Nissan NV200 is by no means a class-leader, and with only one cargo hold size, it is somewhat limited in terms of its loading capacity, but with a lower asking price, it is still in the race. Powering the Nissan NV200 Cargo Van is a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter gas engine that produces a humble 131 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque. We thought the Transit Connect felt a bit underpowered, but the NV200 makes the Ford look like a supercar. At least the gas mileage figure of 24/26/25 mpg isn't too far off the competition. The NV200 is only available in a single size, so it might offer more cargo space than the SWB Transit Connect, but the LWB dominates it. Out on the road, it is a pleasure to drive and offers enough refinement to get by as a daily driver, but it's interior, and spec levels are way below that of the Transit. If you're looking for a no-frills small cargo van, then the NV200 is worth a look, but if you have the money to spend more, the Transit Connect is the better van.
The full-blooded Ford Transit Cargo Van is an institution and has become a part of American folklore through its famous Hollywood movie features and its sheer ability as a workhorse. The 2020 model is one of the best selling vans on the market, and with the new decade comes a comprehensive refresh. There are two engines on offer, both more than capable of hauling this big cargo van around town and on the freeway. The base engine is a naturally aspirated V6 gas engine that produces 275 hp, but if you're looking for something more, there's a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that produces 310 hp. The 2020 Transit Van is offered with three roof heights and three body lengths and can be specified in RWD or AWD configuration. All models are equipped with a ten-speed auto transmission. On the road, you can feel the extra weight around the corners, but there's still a good level of composure, and the interior offers a comfortable, if not a tad sparse driving experience. With similar tech and comfort features, it all boils down to how much cargo space you need.