The humble cargo van has traditionally been characterized by a utilitarian driving experience; uncomfortable and not pleasurable in the slightest. But with the 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van, the Blue Oval brand is looking to change the narrative on this blue-collar vehicle segment in the USA. Sharing the same front-wheel drive platform as the Ford Focus, the second-generation Transit Connect brings more than just reliability to the table, and instead adds a layer of car-like comfort and handling dynamics absent from many rivals. 162 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque are generated by a 2.0-liter gasoline inline-4, which is ultimately down on performance but returns decent gas mileage figures of 25 mpg combined. A decent complement of safety gear and available convenience features is welcome, however, in a segment where rivals include the Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van and Ram ProMaster City, being able to provide buyers with as much value as possible is crucial.
The 2020 Transit Connect Cargo Van is at the receiving end of several significant feature additions. The exterior now features standard automatic headlamps 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 blind-spot assistance, cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, driver-awareness alert, and numerous other safety assistance systems. For the 2020 model year the Guard Metallic color, as well as Titanium Premium Package have been deleted.
See trim levels and configurations:
The 2020 Transit Connect Cargo Van comes with one engine only, regardless of wheelbase. This is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 162 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. All Transit Connect Cargo Vans are front-wheel drive. Towing capacity is rated at 2,000 lbs.
The 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van goes to show how a utilitarian workhorse like a van can be set up to drive and handle like a car. In this cargo-focused guise, the Transit Connect boasts lots of cargo space and is genuinely fun to drive, and the XLT model is well enough equipped to make you forget about the van body out back. In that regard, it is an excellent buy, and the added choice of two wheelbases improves its prospects. What's not so great is the asthmatic naturally aspirated engine that struggles with a load on board - although fuel economy is decent - and the rather bare entry-level spec. The dashboard plastics all look a bit cheap as well and even though it's very functional, it's not plushly finished. However, this is not entirely out of place in the van segment. For some people, the rewarding driving experience will be enough to tilt the scales in the Ford's favor over its competition.
There are only two trim levels for sale in the USA for 2020, but which you should buy is an easy choice. If there's one thing made clear in our review of the 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van, it's that the XLT is the best buy and certainly worth the $2,425 premium over the cheapest XL model. The price of the 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van in top spec guise is a mere $26,700 for SWB models, with LWB variants adding an extra $1,000 to the invoice. Both models offer the same car-like driving experience and attractive exterior styling, but the XLT adds much-needed safety features in the form of Ford's Co-Pilot360 suite, which includes features such as auto-high-beam headlights, pre-collision assist (including braking), lane-keep assist, blind-spot assist (including cross-traffic alert), pedestrian detection, dynamic brake support, and driver-awareness assist. While there is no full safety rating for the van at present, features like this will aid it if it is ever fully tested. The XLT also adds better infotainment courtesy of Ford's SYNC 3 system and two USB ports.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van: