Ford Transit Connect for Vanlife: 12 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the Ford Transit Connect for Vanlife?

With great drive-ability, low upfront costs, and a significantly smaller footprint than a full-size Transit, the Transit Connect van is a great option.

But how does it stack up against other popular mid-size models like the Ram ProMaster City, Renault Traffic, & Mercedes Metris?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

12 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the Transit Connect

The Connect is compact, fuel efficient, & comfortable to drive – but is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 12 reasons why vanlifers like the Ford Transit Connect:

  1. More Fuel Efficient Than Large Vans: The Transit Connect gets a combined 25.5 MPG as reported to the EPA, which is way higher than its larger counterpart (the Transit) which gets 17 MPG (see mileage comparison).
  2. Inexpensive New and Used: Transit Connects are very affordable. Older Connects can go for as little as $10,000 and under (see price comparison).
  3. Easy to Drive: The Transit Connect is a small and nimble car that is as easy to drive as a minivan or larger SUV.
  4. “Stealth” Factor: Transit Connects are very commonly used as work vans, so it’s very easy to go under the radar as a campervan in these cars.
  5. Great for City and Rural Driving: The Transit Connect was designed for city driving. Its small size makes it easy to park and maneuver around town, as well as on freeways, highways, and back roads.
  6. Lots of Online Info for Buildouts: Although it’s not as popular as the larger Transit, the Connect is still relatively sought-after as a vanlife van. That means there’s a good amount of info online for how to convert your Transit Connect.
  7. Cheap Parts and Repairs: Ford vehicles have inexpensive parts, and since so many mechanics work on them, you won’t have to shell out a bunch of money for a specialist.
  8. Comfortable Ride: Transit Connect owners say that their vans are very comfortable to drive, even for long road trips.
  9. Interior Allows for Lots of Storage Space: There’s tons of existing storage and great places to install storage throughout the Connect including under and behind the seats, above the driver’s cabin, and on the rear doors.
  10. Widely Available: Transit Connects are all over the place because they’re used by so may companies for work vans. That means they’re relatively easy to get your hand on.
  11. Good for DIY Builds: The smaller size means that Connects require a simpler build. These types of builds are very feasible for a beginner or first time van build DIY-er.
  12. Good Visibility: The Transit Connect has great big front windows, and large mirrors so you don’t have many blind spots.

9 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Transit Connect

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the Connect.

Here are 9 reasons why vanlifers dislike the Ford Transit Connect:

  1. Can’t Handle Heavy Builds: The Transit Connect has a payload capacity of about 1,500 pounds. That means a really intense build with lots of heavy wood might not be a great idea in these vehicles.
  2. Small Interior: The most obvious downside of the Transit Connect is that it’s very small inside. There’s really only enough room for a large bed, or a smaller bed and small kitchen area (see size comparison).
  3. Poor Acceleration: The Transit Connect accelerates very slowly, which can make getting on the freeway kind of annoying.
  4. Plasticky Interior: The Ford Transit Connect is a very affordable vehicle, and that’s reflected in the quality of the interior.
  5. Transmission Issues: Ford Transit Connects are known to have major transmission issues after about 100,000 miles.
  6. Underpowered Engine: The engine is a little wimpy compared to the size of the vehicle. The Transit Connect is not a speedy car.
  7. Noisy Ride: Transit Connect owners say that the cab of the van gets very noisy, especially on freeways and bumpy roads.
  8. Only Comes in 2WD: Ford does not offer a 4WD or AWD option for the Transit Connect, so it’s not equipped for treacherous mountain roads or travelling to campgrounds with hard-to-reach sites.
  9. New Connects Have Very Low Ceiling Height: The second generation Transit Connect (2016-present) has a cargo height of around 50 inches, compared to the first generation which had a height of about 54 inches. Those 4 inches lost mean that builds inside newer Connects are way less comfortable.

 

16 Amazing Transit Connect Van Builds

With widely available parts, lots of interior storage, and a strong online community for builders, the Connect provides a great platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 16 of the coolest Ford Transit Connect ever:

Build #16: Transit Connect with Slide Down Bench and Entertainment Center

  • Highlights: This Transit Connect has a long bench that slides out into a bed across from a kitchen area with a plumbed sink. Next to the kitchen is a TV so this van owner can cozy up and watch Netflix right from the couch or bed!
  • Van: 2013 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @milomeloy

 

Build #15: Professional Pop-Top Transit Connect

  • Highlights: This professional build from Wilderness Vans has a long convertible bench inside with a swing around table. The under bed slide-out reveals a sink, counter-space, and fridge drawer. The pop top adds head room so the interior of the van is more comfortable to sit in.
  • Van: 2022 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @wildernessvans

 

Build #14: Connect Build with Unique Bed and Lots of Shelving

  • Highlights: The bed in this Transit Connect conversion is split in half. The rear half slides in and out for access to sit at the countertop area and use it as a kitchen or workspace. The rest of the van has tons of shelving and cabinetry for storage.
  • Van: 2011 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @4qmfreiheit

 

Build #13: Connect with Slide Out Bed and Room for a Bike

  • Highlights: This Transit Connect has a backless bench that can be pulled out into a bed. Across from the bed is a kitchen area with some storage, and the rear door has a pull-down table. 
  • Van: 2010 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @suncoastadvvans

 

Build #12: Connect with Small Bed, Kitchen, and Work Space

  • Highlights: This Connect build gives up a larger build in exchange for some cool interior features, like a kitchen with a stove top and sink, and a work space with keyboard and monitor. The van also has automatic window covers and a security system.
  • Van: 2010 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @maxoutfun

 

Build #11: Transit Connect with Outdoor Kitchen, Roof Box Storage, and an Awning

  • Highlights: This Connect build from Monroe Built has a fully outdoor kitchen with a slide-out for the stove, and a really unique slide out sink set up. The interior is simple with a bed and some storage on the side. The roof rack has lots of roof box storage and an awning.
  • Van: 2018 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @monroebuilt

 

Build #10: Minimalist Ford Transit Connect Build with Slide-Out Bike Storage

  • Highlights: This inexpensive Transit Connect build has just the bare necessities, but still looks very polished. It has a slide-out bed with storage boxes underneath, and a slide-out for securely storing a mountain bike.
  • Van: 2012 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @stokedvans

 

Build #9: Spacious Connect Build with Slide-Out Bed and Lots of Cabinetry

  • Highlights: This gorgeous DIY Connect build packs a lot in and still feels spacious. It has a slide out bed across from a large cabinetry system with a fridge, countertop space, sink, and storage.
  • Van: 2010 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @jakesvann

 

Build #8: Transit Connect that Seats and Sleeps Five

  • Highlights: This Connect design from Contra Vans can seat and sleep five people. The interior bed slides out over the folded rear seats, and there’s a roof nest on top with a king sized mattress. The whole kitchen area is outside with a slide out stove and refrigerator.
  • Van: Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @contravans

 

Build #7: Stealth Transit Connect with Twin-Sized Bed

  • Highlights: This DIY Transit Connect build has a gorgeous interior with a mixing bowl sink and tiled kitchen backsplash. The bed expands to twin-sized, so it just sleeps one person. Owner Eva has installed a sliding wood panel over the rear window to protect the van’s stealthiness.
  • Van: 2013 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @eee_vanstagram

 

Build #6: Transit Connect with L-Shaped Couch and Closet

  • Highlights: This tidy Connect build has an L-shaped couch that slides out into a bed. Along the other wall is a small countertop for cooking, and a large closet with three shelves inside. 
  • Van: 2012 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @sabina_swanson

 

Build #5: Connect with Convertible Bench and Small Kitchen

  • Highlights: This Transit Connect build has a large couch spanning the back that slides out into a bed. Across from the bench is a kitchen area with a sink, small countertop, and storage for a stove underneath. These vanlifers also travel with a camping table so they can set up a portable outdoor kitchen.
  • Van: 2005 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @thejourneythatmatters

 

Build #4: Transit with Slide Out Bed and and Kitchenette

  • Highlights: This DIY Connect build has a couch and bench by day that slides out into a large asymmetrical bed at night. Its owner also installed a small kitchen area with a lot of counterspace, a sink, and overhead storage.
  • Van: 2011 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @bonnie.minivan

 

Build #3: Transit Connect with Slide Out Storage and Pop Up Tables

  • Highlights: This Connect build maximizes outdoor space with its sliding drawer that can act as counterspace, and slide-out fridge. There are also two pop-up tables on the rear doors. Inside the van is just a large bed.
  • Van: 2012 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @bettybuild

 

Build #2: Wood-Paneled Transit Connect with Rear Awning

  • Highlights: This Transit Connect build has wood siding and ceiling with recessed lighting. The simple bed sits atop pull outs that house the van’s stove and battery and there’s a rear awning to cover the whole outdoor living space.
  • Van: 2010 Ford Transit connect
  • Owner: @camper_vanna_white

 

Build #1: Transit Connect with L-Shaped Bench, Freezer, and Microwave

  • Highlights: This professional Transit Connect build has it all with an L-shaped slide out bed across from the kitchen. The kitchen are ahas a sink, microwave, and lots of storage. And underneath the front booth, Small Vans Big World has installed both a fridge and freezer.
  • Van: 2020 Ford Transit Connect
  • Owner: @smallvansbigworld

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the Connect, let’s see how it stacks up against the Ram ProMaster City, Nissan NV, Renault Traffic, & others.

Ford Transit Connect Cost

Cost: Transit Connect vs ProMaster City vs Nissan NV vs Renault Traffic vs Mercedes Metris vs VW California

ModelNewUsedPrice
Ford Transit Connect$29,365$17,995Check Price
Ram ProMaster City$30,475$27,950Check Price
Nissan NV200$23,500$13,985Check Price
Renault Trafic$51,952$28,594Check Price
Mercedes Metris$34,900$27,954Check Price
VW California$73,385N/ACheck Price

 

Ford Transit Connect Dimensions

Dimensions: Transit Connect vs ProMaster City vs Nissan NV vs Renault Traffic vs Mercedes Metris vs VW California

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
Ford Transit Connect49.5 inches117.5 inches48.7 inches190 inches
Ram ProMaster City51.8 inches87.2 inches60.4 inches187.5 inches
Nissan NV20053.5 inches80.3 inches59.1 inches173.2 inches
Renault Trafic54.6 inches99.9 inches65.4 inches196.8 inches
Mercedes Metris55 inches105.4 inches66.3 inches202.4 inches
VW California55.5 inches101.3 inches66.9 inches193.1 inches

 

Ford Transit Connect Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Transit Connect vs ProMaster City vs Nissan NV vs Renault Traffic vs Mercedes Metris vs VW California

ModelCityHighwayCombined
Ford Transit Connect24 MPG27 MPG25.5 MPG
Ram ProMaster City21 MPG28 MPG24.5 MPG
Nissan NV20024 MPG26 MPG25 MPG
Renault Trafic24 MPG34 MPG29 MPG
Mercedes Metris19 MPG23 MPG21 MPG
VW California36.2 MPG42.2 MPG39.2 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is the Ford Transit Connect Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Ford Transit Connect: It’s compact, reliable, & relatively cheap  – but it may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Smaller Overall Footprint
  • Great Gas Mileage
  • Comfortable to Drive
  • Inexpensive Upfront Cost
  • Underpowered Engine
  • Very Low Ceiling Height

So should you get one?

Maybe! We’d recommend the Transit Connect over the Ram ProMaster City and other newer compact vans for vanlifers who like the Ford brand and don’t mind the underpowered engine and newer low-ceiling height.

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