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 a sound 40mpg 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.