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Ford Transit Connect - Ideal inspection vehicle?


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I've been seeing more and more Ford Transit Connects on the road lately. They are typically used by plumbing, HVAC and appliance repair companies. They're tiny, but make good rolling billboards being slab-sided and most sport a graphics wrap.

I used to drive a Nissan Frontier with a cap and ladder rack, but sold it in 2003 after I got T-boned and bent the frame. Since then I've had a Mazda MPV mini van. The mini van is more versatile and pleasant to use, but I miss having a ladder rack. I've been relying on 4 Little Giants. Using the really big one is getting old, and it's only a matter of time before I lose control of it and do some major damage to something. This year, I think I need to get a vehicle that will allow me to carry extension ladders again.

One thing that kept the Transit Connect off my list of possibilities is that it's so darn short. It couldn't possibly be good for carrying ladders. It turns out I was wrong. I found a cool drop down rack that lets you carry a 28' ladder. So now the Transit is at the top of the list.

The only big downside to the Transit is that it's only available with a 2.0 liter engine and 4 speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is very anemic. On the plus side, gas mileage is very good.

Has anybody else been considering getting a Transit Connect?

http://www.edmunds.com/ford/transit-connect/2011/

http://www.inlad.com/doubledropdownladd ... mentid=738

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I've been looking at them since they first arrived in this area. One of the criteria I look for in an 'office on wheels' is the ability to stand erect inside. Can't do it on this one. Only the Sprinter meets that criteria but I can't justify it's price tag yet.

Marc

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I considered it. I drove one when I was looking @ vehicles last fall. They're OK. I think it would make a decent trade wagon.

Pros = all the stuff you said.

Cons = low clearance, anemic engine, no 4WD

I went with another Xterra. Lousy mileage, but it's got everything else I wanted (ladder frame, 4WD, high ground clearance, mega front end, leaf spring, big capacity gear racks, etc.)

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Marc:

You might be interested in the Nissan NV. The high roof model has well over 6 feet of headroom inside and it's probably about $10,000 less than the Sprinter.

http://www.thenissannv.com/

Kurt:

Yeah, one thing I really miss about the Frontier is the 4WD. My Mazda absolute sucks in the snow. I've already gotten stuck on level ground. On just wet pavement, it's easy real easy to spin the wheels when starting out.

I've been reading a lot on line about winter traction. Supposedly, a set of 4 snow tires with the right rubber compound on a front wheel drive vehicle can give you as much traction (and certainly as much control) as a 4WD vehicle with mediocre all season tires.

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Yeah, I really like Nissan trucks. Fabry would have more insight than me on mechanical stuff, though.

My new Xterra (2010) is really good in nasty snow and ice. Really good. It got the acid test this winter. The engine is reasonably perky for a tankish SUV.

4WD drive is one of those things that I need, but I only really need it a few times a year. With all the driving we do, I want it though. It's one less stresser in the gig.

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I saw one last week and the thought occurred to me that it would be good for this gig. The primary reason that I'd consider it is that I live in a metropolitan area and I need something small enough to get under the height tell tale going into the parking garages where I can park it under a surveillance camera.

Before I got my Baja, I used to get nervous as hell every time I had to leave either of the vans that preceded the Baja on the street or in one of those open downtown parking lots, 'cuz I worried that I'd come back and find it broken into and some equipment missing - I did lose a 17ft. L-G knockoff that way.

The other part of that was I often had to park blocks away and then lug my equipment or drop my equipment on the sidewalk in front of the building and hope that the guy sitting in reception would be conscientious enough to watch it until I found a place to park and returned. So, if you're in an urban area, that's a few things to consider.

I didn't know they has such an anemic engine. Around here with all of the steep grades we have, you really need something that has a pair of cajones. That's the reason I traded my 165hp 2003 Baja for the 215hp Turbo Baja in 2005 - the 165hp model was a standard and couldn't get out of it's own way pulling away from a streetlight on a grade until you practically red-lined it in first and then second. I never did try the 165hp in auto; it probably would have been fine but I just love the sh** out of the turbo 'cuz it's like a friggin pocket rocket.

Those Nissans look like some badass trucks but I bet they too are too high to get into a downtown parking garage around here.

Are there any stronger engine options for that little Ford van?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'm doing the search on Transit Connect also.. it does look pretty good. One of my clients last week was a Ford Master Mechanic (?) and I grilled him on them.

He said they are finding front brake pads are wearing out prematurely.. He's a believer in the engine's toughness... Proven in Europe..

A friend just bought one and he said the engine is wimpy.. I sat in one the other day (pest co) and talked to the driver.. he said he was OK with it.

I put my LG ladders in the back (21') and 'it works' in that regard..

But I've got an E-150 and the freedom in the back is just beyond compare. (That, and it's pretty good when I do the occasional gig for carrying the amp(s) and axes). :)

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I've been reading a lot on line about winter traction. Supposedly, a set of 4 snow tires with the right rubber compound on a front wheel drive vehicle can give you as much traction (and certainly as much control) as a 4WD vehicle with mediocre all season tires.

Get yourself some Nokian Hakkapeliitta snows. It's like having duct tape for tires. The difference is almost inconceivable.

A low cost excellent tire is the Firestone Winterforce- they're 90 % as good as the Nokian @ 60% of the cost.

I'm runnin' Blizzaks on my truck 'cause I still had 'em in stock. It's like driving a Gecko. You can actually hear the sipes sucking water at low speeds.

As I used to tell my customers- snow tires are free- you have to have tires on your car, you might as well have the right ones.

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A lot of people like the Chevy HHR. I think they have less wind resistance than the Transit on the hiway, and you would not need a dropdown rack.

That big rack loaded with ladders is going to hurt your mileage somewhat on hiway trips.

I like my old Tacoma with the cap and the rack. For snow (yeah, we got some) I'm using my wife's Outback.

No, I can't stand up in it, but I can curl up in the back for a snooze. [:)]

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Are there any stronger engine options for that little Ford van?

Amazingly, no, and to make things worse, it's coupled with a 4 speed automatic. It only puts out 138 HP. That's less than your 2003 Baja. I can't imagine that they won't be offering something bigger in the next year or two. That tiny engine would have to be a deal killer for a lot of buyers.

I'm looking forward to driving one to see just how underpowered it might be. It's probably something that I could adjust to. I've gotten kind of spoiled with my mini van and its 3.0 liter V-6. It's only my second non-4 cylinder vehicle. My first car had a 302 V-8, but between 1977 and 2003 all of my vehicles were manual transmission/4 cylinder.

I don't need 5,000 pounds of vehicle to get to and from inspections. You can do a lot with 4 cylinders in a small vehicle. When I was in my late teens and early 20's I towed a 21 foot boat with a 40HP outboard behind my VW beetle. A contractor friend of mine doesn't own a pickup truck. For years he's used 4 cylinder Jeep CJ-7's pulling trailers. Here's his Kubota-hauling rig:

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Chad, I looked up those Hakkapeliitta's. Man, they don't look like any snow tire I've ever seen (but then I don't recall seeing a snow tire since I was in my late teens). The tread is so aggressive, it looks like it could reach out and bite you. They are pricey, but I could probably get a number of winters out of them. I'd have them mounted on wheels, so I could wait for the first snow of the year to put them on. Around here, that's often well into December. They'd come off at the end of March.

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I don't need 5,000 pounds of vehicle to get to and from inspections. You can do a lot with 4 cylinders in a small vehicle. When I was in my late teens and early 20's I towed a 21 foot boat with a 40HP outboard behind my VW beetle. A contractor friend of mine doesn't own a pickup truck. For years he's used 4 cylinder Jeep CJ-7's pulling trailers. Here's his Kubota-hauling rig:

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Looks dangerous.

My own inspection vehicle is a Dodge Ram 2500, 4 seater, long bed. It get 21/16 mpg (Hwy/city) because it's diesel. That's why I like the Sprinter.

Marc

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Bill does know how to tow. He still has a CDL that he needed for a past career.

His trailer and tractor were brand new when I took that picture 4 and a half years ago. He brought it over to my place to dig out behind a failed retaining wall. I suggested he might want to play with it for a while before taking it out on a job. [:-devil] He had the trailer custom built. It's been working out just fine.

Last year he bought a stump grinder attachment for the tractor. I said to him "gee, Bill, maybe you ought to practice on something before you take it out on a job. I have a stump you can try it out on"

I can't wait to see what he buys next.

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. . . Has anybody else been considering getting a Transit Connect?

. . .

Frankly, it sounds like a wuss-mobile.

If I worked exclusively in an urban setting, it might work. But I drive over several miles of gravel roads every day. My rig has to drive over mountains, through mud, and over large rocks all the time. A Kleenex box on wheels wouldn't cut it for me.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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"If I worked exclusively in an urban setting, it might work. But I drive over several miles of gravel roads every day. My rig has to drive over mountains, through mud, and over large rocks all the time. A Kleenex box on wheels wouldn't cut it for me."

Jim is too modest to post this, but here's a newspaper clipping showing an early prototype of his rig.

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif snowcruiser.jpg

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If you're hauling tools, rig, whatever, wuss-mobiles aren't any good in the city either. A city chews up cheap cars quick.

If you don't need high ground clearance, four wheel drive, you're on paved, and you're urban commuting, wuss-mobiles work good. I could see it working OK, but not for me.

There's a lot of trades in Chicago that are getting the Transit Connect; I'll ask around.

Is a Honda CRV a wuss-mobile? Or, is it any vehicle that's not a diesel Enviro-Mangler?

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