Ford Transit Connect review

If you are in the market for small, practical and affordable van then you will probably need a Ford Transit Connect. Easy to drive, cheap to run and well-equipped as standard, the compact but capable Connect is one of the best small vans for sale.

Ford Transit Connect review: Verdict

The original Mk1 Ford Transit Connect was launched in 2002 and made an immediate impact, winning dozens of awards and van of the year accolades. Today, if you need a cheap small van for sale, the Transit Connect will make perfect sense. 

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Ford Transit Connect review: Problems

  • Service history, with the Transit Connect still young enough to command above £5000 on the used marketplace it’s essential you buy one with a fully-stamped service booklet.
  • Have a good look around the tyres for wear or sidewall damage. Any signs of uneven wear suggests the tracking has been knocked out, likewise damaged sidewalls or wheels signal abuse.
  • Check the clutch for slip or judder by rolling away in second with low revs, if there’s any evidence of it then negotiate a discount, or have a new one fitted before buying.
  • On higher mileage examples ask whether the timing belt has been replaced. It should have been done every 60,000 miles or four years, whichever is sooner. 
  • Listen for any rumbling or drone from the wheel bearings when test driving. Be sure to run the van at everything from town speeds to dual carriageway speeds. A new wheel bearing, fitted will cost around £150.
  • Ask what it’s been used for, and don’t be too afraid of higher mileage examples. A 40,000 mile Connect doing short drop town driving might be in rougher condition mechanically than a 100,000+ mile example that’s spent most of its time travelling on motorways.
  • Have a good look around the cabin for any water ingress, lift carpets, look under the seats and check under floor mats. Check any drainage holes around the windscreen front firewall aren’t blocked.
  • The Transit Connect is plentiful on the used market and you really can afford to be picky. Check the load area for excessive damage, and the interior for wear and tear, with so much choice there’s no reason to compromise on one that’s not perfect.

Ford Transit Connect Mk2 (2014 - 2019)

Built in Valencia, Spain, and introduced in 2014 to replace its best-selling predecessor Ford has spun its compact van off the same basic underpinnings of its C-Max passenger car range. That’s obvious when you drive it. Ford has long had a reputation for developing fine-driving vehicles, and while that’s perhaps not at the top of the list of buyer’s requirements, it does make a difference when you’re sat in one all day.

At its introduction Ford boasted it would set new standards for load-carrying ability as well as cost of ownership and dependability. Load management and space was improved, too, Ford offering two wheelbases at launch, the short wheelbase (SWB/L1) having 2.9 cubic metres of load space, and the long wheelbase (LWB/L2) model featuring 3.7 cubic of cargo volume.

A load through hatch in the bulkhead boosts load space volumes to 3.7 and 4.4 cubic metres respectively, which means the Connect offers the same load-length capacity as some of its larger Transit Custom relations, with either 3.0m with the L1 or 3.4m in the L2 model.

The side access door is wide enough to load a Euro pallet through it, either wheelbase able to carry two Euro pallets. The rear load space’s proportions and bulkhead of the L2 were also designed to accommodate the 2.4m x 1.2m (8x4ft) sheets of plasterboard, chipboard or MDF.

That attention to detail and use is clear in the cabin, too, with lots of useful oddment stowage, including a USB-equipped bin under the passenger seat and another above the instruments on Trend trim upwards. There is also a fold-away function for the second portion of the passenger seat to allow large boxes to be carried in the cabin.

Along with the usual van layout with its driver and twin passenger seat, Ford offered the Connect with both second and third row seating. Mis-fuelling is almost impossible, too, with Ford’s Easy-Fuel capless filler neck not allowing drivers to make the expensive error of putting the wrong fuel in the tank.

Various engine choices were offered with the Transit Connect over its life, the core being made up of the 1.6-litre TDCI turbodiesel which was offered with 75, 95 and 115PS outputs. These were available additionally with engine start/stop technology, which help the Connect improve its economy and emissions - the L1 (SWB) model with the 75PS 1.6 TDCi emitting 124g/100km and consuming 58.9mpg according to the advertised figures without that start/stop and improving to 115g/km and 64.2mpg with it.

For operators wanting ultimate economy and CO2 capability, Ford additionally offered its 100PS 1.5 TDCi turbodiesel in Econetic guise, it in its best specification (L1 Base trim) managing an advertised figure of 74.3mpg and 99g/km. For that you’d have to accept a 62mph speed limiter, without it the figures increasing to 70.6mpg and 105g/km.

Latterly the 1.6 TDCi would be discontinued in 2016, replaced by the 1.5 'EcoBlue' diesel across the range. Ford offered the Connect with petrol engines, a 1.6-litre EcoBoost mated to an automatic transmission which was only offered briefly up to 2015. There is also Ford's familiar 1.0-litre 100PS EcoBoost petrol, which is also the most honest engine when it comes to real MPG fuel economy.

The Econetic models improved their economy by adding engine start/stop technology, an active grille shutter for improved aerodynamics and smart regenerative charging to boost economy. 

How much is a Ford Transit Connect Mk2?

The second-generation Transit Connect starts at around £5000 for the oldest, highest mileage examples. Even at this entry-level used price point it’s not unreasonable to expect properly maintained examples, with a full service history. If it hasn’t avoid it, as the Connect is popular, so there’s a lot of choice out there.

That price level will see you taking on a vehicle with in excess of 100,000 miles on it, adding around £1000 to your budget dropping that mileage significantly and increasing the number of available vehicles for sale.

There’s not really any clear premium for the L2 over the L1 models, though you’ll pay a bit extra for the double-in-cab examples due to their rarity on the used market. It’s worth looking for Trend trim over Base as it adds some equipment like the twin/split folding passenger seat that adds versatility and carrying capacity to the cab.

There are rich pickings for buyers in the £6000-£7000 range, with plenty of one-owner sensible miles examples. The majority are 1.6-litre TDCi powered, and in the tradesman’s favourite white, but 1.5 TDCis are available in this price range, as are some painted different hues from the usual white. In the £7000-£9000 sphere and you can find Connects still under warranty and just a year or two old.

Spend £10,000 up to around £13,000 and you’ll be in year-old sub-10,000 miles examples while above that, up to £17,000 buys you new stock from Ford dealers, or the very highest specified used examples and any special edition, or specialist use vehicles. 

Is a Ford Transit Connect Mk2 reliable?

Every Ford Transit Connect comes with a three year 60,000 mile warranty, many used examples are still covered by this. Tourneo Connect drivers benefit from a 100,000 mile warranty over three years as it’s sold a passenger car rather than a commercial vehicle. There’s a 12-year anti-perforation warranty too with bodywork on all.

Servicing should be every year or 10,000 miles and inexpensive 6000 mile six month interim services and inspections for drivers using their vehicles for short-drop urban driving are worthwhile. Pricing varies across the country, but most garages offer fixed price servicing. As an example an interim service should cost in the region of £120, a full service costing around £200-£250.

A replacement battery fitted will be around £100, with an MoT around £40-£50. Should you need diagnostics running to check any fault code expect to pay around £45, a replacement clutch costing around £540 fitted, front brake pads under £100, rears under £70, replacement front discs in the region of £220. The timing belt on the TDCi engines should be replaced every four years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first). Fitted, along with a new water pump that timing belt cost around £500. Miss that and if it goes you’ll need a new engine.  

Ford Transit Connect Mk1 (2002 - 2013)

Ford’s experience with the bigger Transit shone through with the Connect and it immediately impressed, in recognition of that. Offered in long (2912mm) and short (2664mm) wheelbase versions with a variety of heights weights. From 2008 a crewcab version was added, which means there’s a Transit Connect to suit almost every need.

It would take Ford until 2009 to facelift the Connect, revising the looks with slightly softer shaped exterior mouldings, revised instrumentation and a higher standard equipment offering including ESP, traction control and hill launch assist as standard. Ford has also offered electric versions for fleet users on trial basis, but all but a handful of Transit Connects come powered by a four-cylinder in-line turbodiesel unit.    

Regardless of which version you choose, all are practical and capable. Payload ratings range from 652kg to 908kg, while load volumes span from 1.4 to 3.7 cubic metres. There is also a Tourneo version which, like its bigger Transit relation, provides a comfortable passenger car in both short and long wheelbase forms, the latter offering as many as eight seats, while the short wheelbase model makes do with just five.  

Simplicity is best, and that’s very much the case with Ford’s engine and transmission offering with the Transit Connect. There’s a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine and a petrol unit too that was offered with bi-fuel LPG power. The latter is rare though, the majority of Transit Connects being powered by the 1.8-litre turbodiesel.

The four-cylinder diesel was offered in outputs ranging of 75, 90 and 110PS. All through its life Ford stuck with a five-speed manual transmission, not offering either a six-speed or automatic in the model mix like many of its rivals.

Consumption varies slightly between them all, though drivers' experience of the 1.8-litre unit suggests that the 90PS engine is the best for real world fuel economy. If you’re doing bigger distances or regularly hauling goods at up near the Connect’s load capacity then the additional power the 110PS is worth paying that bit more for. 

How much is a Ford Transit Connect Mk1?

With the oldest Transit Connects now pushing 18+ years you can conceivably pick one up for comfortably under £1000, but don’t expect anything but galactic mileages, plenty of owners and a patchy service history. 

Spend anywhere from £1000-£1500 and you’re into a rich seam of part-exchange Connects and nicely looked after examples, if you’re prepared to shop around. There’s very little difference in prices between short wheelbase and long wheelbase models, likewise high or low roof examples.

Double that budget again and you can really be very picky, selecting the lowest mileage, most pampered, well-equipped Connects, here we’d be looking for air conditioning and a post 2009 model with the extra safety kit as standard.

Tourneo examples command good money, and are rare, as are limited edition Sport models, which are pricey with Ford Performance Blue paint, white stripes and 18-inch alloy wheels. Just 300 Sport models were made and those on the used market are usually well cared for and expensive. 

Is a Ford Transit Connect Mk1 reliable?

Ford recommended a 15,000 mile or annual service, but as with any van that’s dependent on use, if it’s being used for short-drop trips some more regular maintenance might be advisable. The TDCI engine is a proven unit, though it’s not entirely without faults.

There’s been problems related to injectors, Ford having issued a Technical Service Bulletin in 2012 relating to engines built between 2008/09. They can fail, causing hesitancy when driving, and resulting in a sizeable bill - around £1500. Other niggling issues relating to this engine include oil leaks and auxiliary failures, but the reality is Ford’s diesels are no worse (and arguably better) in this regard over its rivals.

The gearbox is tough, though a replacement fitted if needed would cost around £600. If there’s problems selecting gears then there might be an issue of corrosion or dirt in the remote housing - an independant garage will charge around £100 for this to be remedied.

Wheel bearings should wear well depending on use, replacements costing about £100-£120 a corner, likewise brakes wear well and cost about £50 a side to replace pads, but as with any commercial vehicle wear does increase markedly depending on usage. A service will cost around £140, depending on where you are in the country, although the Transit Connect has a reputation for being a relatively easy van to work on.