For eight solid years the Honda Element reigned as the champion car for tall people. Alas, like all good things, it came to an end as 2011 saw its arrival on Honda’s height biased guillotine. By an extraordinary stroke of luck, however, this coincided with the beginnings of a new tall car champion, the Ford Transit Connect.
With its European origins as a humble delivery vehicle, it’s height was appreciated for cargo capacity while the tall windshield provided visibility to high up signs as it nimbly maneuvered through crowded city streets. Like tall people, it stood out in the crowd, aiding it in its rise in the ranks to the consumer level.
The most notable measurement is the 51.5″ Vision Line Height. This is about five precious inches taller than the Honda Element and about a foot taller than your average car. In other words, it is somewhere between the Yao Ming and Shaquille O’neal of cars.
Besides making space for tall people’s long torsos, this vertical space is also useful for legroom, as it allows the taller person to raise their seat higher before head room or visibility becomes a problem. Of course, the legroom problem can also be solved by extending the seat rails.
Before writing this post, I decided I had to test the fit for myself. The consumer versions of the Transit Connect are rare in Canada, so it took a bit of driving, but I eventually found a dealership, endured the sales person, and slid my 6′ 7″ tall frame easily into the comfortable cabin (the ingress and egress was superb). See for yourself in the pic below, but I can confidently say that this is the best visibility and headroom of any consumer vehicle without getting into a Winnebago.
Besides being tall people friendly, the Ford Transit Connect is versatile. Like the Honda Element, the seats fold down to make for some excellent space, whether it be for stuff, like your bike(s), for the dog(s), or for car camping. And despite its larger size, it gets decent milage on the highway. Finally, the wagon version offers seven seats, all with fantastic headroom.
Now in 2014, Ford is offering a variety of models which can be categorized as either the van or wagon version. In addition, there are a variety of new concept versions being shown off at auto shows. With popularity, however, comes pressure for conformance. It will be a true test of the Transit Connect’s identity to see if it can remain tall, resisting the pressures to hunch (drop its roofline) as the mainstream consumer market pushes for sleek aesthetics.
For myself, my 2003 Honda Element has a lot of life left in it, but I have a feeling I know what my next car will be.
Being from Europe I always liked these kind of vans. Over there they also have the VW Caddy, Renault Kangoo and similar ones. There are at least 6 or 7 different brands out there with similar vans.
I like the Fords design. What I don't like is their engine selection here in the US. The standard engine is the outdated not very efficient natural aspirated 2.3L engine. The optional more powerful, more expensive but less fuel consuming 1.6 Ecoboost is only available with the short wheelbase version here in the US.
And the towing capacity is bad too. Only 1500 lb. But otherwise I think it is a great car.
It seems the Europeans always get the good stuff! Too bad it's so expensive to import cars…
The Ford website is a bit inconsistent about engine specs, but this link shows one of the Wagon models have the 1.6L: http://www.ford.ca/trucks/transitconnect/specifications/engine/
Could be a new 2014 thing, or maybe just an error.
1500lbs, curious, that is the exact same as the Honda Element. I've found it to be OK, but thats because I've pretty much only ever toed a Hobie Cat around!
its ugly sorry
A lot of people said that about the Honda Element too, and maybe that's why it ended up on the chopping block… sexual selection is hard at work here 🙁
Part of the problem with the Element was that it is only a four-seater. We had to trade ours when I became pregnant with our 3rd child. It was great while it lasted though. We traded for a Kia Soul, which was surprisingly roomy for passengers but didn’t work well for me bringing home the groceries/traveling with all of our stuff. Eventually, I opted for an Optima while with my husband drove his pickup and work van. But now, we decided to start shopping again for another family car that can accommodate us all for several years (my son as he grows taller and my husband who is 6’9; along with the kids’ friends and camping gear and such. Has anyone had any luck with the Honda Pilot?
I agree, the Ford Transit isn’t exactly a looker, but I’d rather travel together in an ugly vehicle than be forced to take multiple vehicles every time we want to go on a family outing.
I sat in a Honda Pilot once, it was good. But nothing compared to the Ford Transit. Four seats in the Element isn’t a problem for me now as mostly it’s just me and my dog cruising around. But I figure I may someday need more seats, and then I’ll get the Transit. I think it is vastly more important to protect the health of my long spine than what the car looks like. Ford Transit hands down.
But maybe it’s not so ugly, when your family rides in it comfortably and you are able to find it in a crowd, it may grow on you. 😉
I have a 2016 transit connect LWB. I’m 6ft 6in and ~250lbs. This vehicle is not really anything special for a tall driver. The headroom, elbow room, hip room are all fine.
It does have good clearance for your knees as long as you adjust the steering column up.
The issue is the foot-box. There really isnt all that much room for your legs and feet.
I find my legs are cramped and it bothers my knees, especially on longer drives. There is a small hump on the left side of the footbox that protrudes into the space where my left foot wants to be. not good. There just isnt much space for your legs to stretch out.
My wife’s 2013 Jetta Sportwagen is a Lot better. My old 2011 GMC Terrain was also way better in terms of legroom. I really dont see why some tall folks are cheerleading for the Transit…Its really just mediocre for a tall driver.
It is a decent vehicle, very good gas mileage (28mpg +) with good room for gear and kids etc. My kids can sit behind me when I have the seat pushed all the way back.
In the end, there are better options for a tall driver.
-F150 Crew cab
-Toyota Tundra Crew Cab
-GMC Terrain/ Chevrolet Equinox
– Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen
– Dodge Charger
Thanks for writing in. Lately, I’ve been thinking more seriously about a Transit myself. I’ll have to check out the foot well area again. Perhaps you are right that it is not the best car out there as far as legroom. But for headroom and VLH, it really is as good as it gets. If you are more legs than torso, then the Transit might not be your top pick. But for those with a really long torso, like myself, the Transit is definitely worth checking out.
Thanks for sharing you foot room experience. That will definitely be something for us to look at. Since you have had this since 2014? what has the maintenance on it been like?
I bought used, only had it for a year. So far very little maintenance, though I expect it will be more than my trusty old Honda Element. A lot more bells and whistles on the Transit Connect to go wrong.
I love everything about the vehicle except towing capacity. I wish it could tow more than 2000 lbs!
I am 7’3″ and cannot drive a stock transit.
Does anyone know anything about moving seats back or extending a seat track? Otherwise I would buy a transit.
I have mentioned this to Extend My Seat, but they haven’t got around to it yet. The more we mention it to them though the more likely they are to eventually build seat rail extensions for the Ford Transit, so please drop them a line. Other than that, there are some aftermarket seat brackets that could potentially be modified and ideally coupled with the Vario XXL car seat, see this article for more: Tall Car Seats for Tall People. Other than that, some mobility job shops might be able to do something. Remember though that any modifications to your car can have safety implications. Best of luck, let us know here on Tall Life how it goes!
With a husband who is 6’7″, a 16 year old who is 5’8″ and a 12 year old who is 5’5″, looking for a car for our family that will fit everyone comfortably (during quarantine) has been a challenge. We are looking for something to take across country for the national parks and minivans seemed to be the ‘only’ thing. We will definitely take a look at this and I appreciate that you included a photo of how YOU fit in the car, it’s one thing to read a review, its another to see that you, indeed, fit and look comfortable enough. Thank you.