Reader Question: Transit vs. Transit?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Karl asks: I have had a 1999 Suburban for the past 10 years and the engine just went out on me at 290K miles. I loved it since I could take my six young kids through the worst blizzard Colorado could throw at me. Especially since my father-in-law who is a used car dealer could hook me up with the best tires. I go onto your website as I’m looking into a Ford Transit that will handle my family and also has a AWD option. I’ve never used your website shopping for a new car since I’ve never felt like a new car was the right thing at the time. I don’t see a Ford Transit passenger Van on your website yet and was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I would be looking at new because of the supply chain issues and also since the AWD option is only available starting with 2020 models.

My reply: Well, EPautos is a libertarian car site. But it’s not a place where cars are sold! I’m not a dealer; I don’t work for or get paid by the car companies – either to sell or to promote cars.

I do get new cars to test drive and then write evaluations/recommendations based on my test drive. But there is no quid pro quo involved. I simply give you – the reader – what I hope will be information/opinion that will help you evaluate the vehicle before you decide to buy it (or one of its competitors).

On the Transit:

There are two versions, the standard (full-size) Transit and the smaller Transit Connect. I’ve test driven and reviewed the Transit Connect; you can read my review, here.

Both these vans are suitable as family vans. The difference – other than physical size – is primarily that the Transit Connect is light duty, front wheel drive and powered by a small four cylinder engine while the standard/full-size Transit is available with a V6 and AWD. Many people use these Transits – especially the high roof versions – as the basis for RVs and campers, too.

Be advised, however, the the Transit (the big one) is pricey – about $35k to start, for the very basic version, which hasn’t even got side glass, much less AWD. You might be better-advised to look for a new/slightly used minivan, such as a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey. I also recommend looking at the new Kia Carnival. All of these can seat 7-8 comfortably and some can be bought well-equipped for about the cost of a very basic Transit. 

On the other hand, the Transit Connect can also seat 7-8 and is much more affordable. But it does not have AWD – though if you were to shoe it with good snow tires, it might just suit. 

Might be worth checking out both! 

. . .

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  1. I own a business with transit connect vans. Since 2013, 8 of them, down to 7 currently, and two on order. Older ones , ‘13, ‘14, are up into 130 to 150k miles.
    A few a/c repairs, usually less than $500, but no major mechanical repairs.
    Usual wear items like anything else. Good fuel economy, mostly urban driving
    carrying one driver, plus upfit equipment including 50 gallon water tank.
    Two seat work van, bulkhead between font passenger and cargo hold.
    Still around 20 mpg. Actually better than the many small pu trucks in the fleet
    we have had in the 30+ years before we switched to TC.
    I also think a mini van a better choice for that many passengers.

  2. I’m a Transit Connect Wagon owner, and I have another on order right now (per my previous question, with CNG kit but not the tank, yet). The Transit Connect Wagon is many good things, but it is NOT a snow warrior (or a mud warrior, etc.). I’d take mine on the same 2-3 inches of light snow I’d have taken my old Plymouth Caravelle, but nothing more. I could see the Transit Connect bottomed out on Chicago or Colorado snow. (The TCW also has a top config of 7 seats, not sure if you need 6+2 or 6+1….)

    I’m not sure you’d be happy with a full-sized Transit either. I had the great fortune of driving a Transit cargo van into a Chicago blizzard. I was never terrified (I was most worried about visibility and the roads getting closed), but it was incredibly slab-sided, and felt light yet top-heavy at the same time. You will definitely want to drive a Transit Wagon to make sure you could control it on the snow when the time comes before putting money down.

    If you can’t find a Transit Wagon to test drive first, call Enterprise and the other car rental places, and ask a real person about a 4 hour or 1 day rental. Our local Enterprise tends to keep 3-4 in among the smaller Connect Wagons and cargo vans.

    If you really want a big snow warrior, you’re probably going to need to look for a used Expedition, Tahoe, etc. They’re there for a reason.


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