I recently purchased the Robert Wadlow of cars; the Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagon. As far as vertical space goes, there is no other car that comes close to it. It is a true anomaly among automobiles. I previously wrote about how the Transit Connect makes a great car for tall people. But now that I actually own one, I can go into more detail. For reference, I’m 6’7″.
Tribute to the Honda Element
Before I get into detail on the Transit Connect, I’m compelled to give a quick tribute to the Honda Element that served me–and so many other tall people–so well over the years. The Element was introduced in 2003 as a utilitarian vehicle for outdoors enthusiasts with minimal emphasis on aerodynamics. This inadvertently lead to an unusual amount of vertical space, which pleased tall people (saved me from much back pain). But the average person just didn’t seem to get it. And so, like many other tall friendly vehicles (original Scion XB, Ford Flex, Ford B-Max), it was discontinued. That fateful day in 2011 was a sad one for us tall people.
The Unparalleled Vertical Space of the Transit Connect
In 2014, the ball dropped by Honda was picked up by Ford via a passenger version of their Transit Connect cargo van. Tall Clubs International was so pleased by it that they actually endorsed it! As far as I know, it is the only car endorsement they’ve ever made. To quantify just how spectacular this car is for tall people, I’ll use a measurement I like to call Vision Line Height (the vertical distance from footwell to the top of the windshield). Most cars are around 43″ or 44″. The Honda Element is an outlier at 46.5″. The Transit Connect is a whopping 50″!
This means tall people not only have headroom to spare, but visibility is dramatically improved:
All the extra vertical space also means it is much easier to get in and out of the vehicle. And, unlike most vehicles, the headroom is actually just as good for the rear passengers. This makes it a great vehicle for tall families. Though I will say the legroom for the back seats isn’t very good when the front seats are pushed back all the way. But that’s the case for most cars.
As far as the legroom for the driver, it maxes out around 42″. While this is pretty decent, there are cars out there with much more legroom. However, there are ways to modify seat rails, which isn’t the case for the cabin structure. And if given the choice to have a cramped spine or cramped legs, I’ll choose the latter any day. Also, I find that the Transit Connect has so much vertical space that I feel comfortable raising the seat a bit, which allows the seat to better support my thighs, making it more comfortable.
Other Vehicles Similar to the Transit Connect
Since the Transit Connect’s inception, we’ve seen other manufacturers put out similar shaped cargo vans and, in some cases, they also did passenger versions. So, before buying a Transit Connect myself, I tried them all out. I was shocked to find that, while appearing quite similar on the outside to the Transit Connect, all had significantly less Vision Line Height.
But Who Wants a Cargo Van in Disguise?
A glaring issue I have left unaddressed up until this point is the fact that not every tall person wants to cruise around in the same type of boxy vehicle that delivers their Amazon packages. Further, it may fall short for other criteria such as fuel economy, all-wheel-drive, ground clearance, towing capacity, acceleration, and so on. But for me, everything else is of lesser consequence compared to insufficient vertical space.
And I actually like the fact that it is a big boxy vehicle. It can carry all kinds of bulky objects around. And I’ve got plans to turn mine into a mini campervan. Yes, I can actually lie down fully stretched out in the back!
Features a Tall Driver Should Consider in the Transit Connect
As a tall driver, there are some specific options you should look for if you decide to get a Transit Connect.
The Future of the Transit Connect Passenger Wagon
Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagons are a rare sight (buying used is so difficult I actually had to get mine from a city six hours away). You would think this would lead Ford to discontinue it. However, keeping it going is only an incremental expense for Ford given the cargo version it is based off of is selling well. So I think there is a good chance the passenger version will be the top car for tall drivers for years to come.
There is even a hybrid taxi Transit Connect which will likely lead to a hybrid passenger version too. This is fantastic as so far the electric car options for us tall people have been limited by the fact that electric cars are optimized for efficiency and thereby aerodynamics rather than vertical space (side note: the panoramic windshield is actually pretty great on a Tesla Model X if you’re only kinda tall).
Something else we have to look forward to is autonomous cars. Deficient ergonomics caused by our extreme heights become much less of an issue when a computer is driving. With the recent addition of adaptive cruise control and automatic braking, it appears Ford might be taking the Transit Connect along the path to full autonomy some day. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
I strongly encourage all tall drivers in the market for a new car to at least sit in a Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagon. For a moment, forget about the various other criteria you’re after and instead simply appreciate the fact that you can sit up straight and still see the sky. I’m certain you will be impressed.
I also own 2 Transits! We bought the first one when it first came out in 2010. It’s going strong at 280,000 miles, no leaks, great gas mileage, comfortable. Not a lot of bells and whistles but then that’s less things that can go wrong. I’m female, 5’10” all legs (36″ inseam) and it’s very comfortable to drive. I agree on the sight lines. We also have a truck and I can see a lot from that vehicle too. We also had the wagon but it was totaled (not my fault!). Those are hard to find unfortunately and we ended up replacing it with another Transit van. We have a business and so they are used to haul product. I can’t say enough about these vehicles – always start, good on snow and it also fits in a garage. (Some other vans are too tall) Good article.
I’ve got nearly a foot on you but we have the same inseam!
280,000 miles! Awesome to hear there is potential to hold up for a long time. I’m a bit under 100,000 miles and hope to make it last 10 years. By then there should be an electric version 🙂
Just curious, how have your Transit Connects held up to rust? I’m apprehensive that these would survive long term in the rust belt, but don’t have any evidence on way or the other.
I got mine rust protected with a good warranty on it. Learned my lesson after my Element’s rocker panels rusted out…
Sorry I didn’t see your comment – there’s some rust on that narrow strip under the doors (don’t know what that is called) and starting on the bottom inside corners of the rear doors. Not bad for 10 years and 180K. I don’t want to put any money into it at this many miles, I have this superstition that as soon as I put money into it, it will conk out. Recently I replaced the brake pads and rotors myself – it was easy with UTube . $204 total and 2.5 hours time. This spring I’m thinking of grinding the rust off the bottom, applying some primer and painting it. What do I have to lose? Our newer Ram truck is worse for rust under the wheel wells – going to have that fixed and put fins on. My Transit came with fins around the wheel wells so no issues there. When I get a new one, I would have parts of it wrapped with this 3M clear cling material – no pits and rust.
As for the blind spot – there’s a really inexpensive round mirror you stick on the side mirrors that works great.
Thanks Kate – My understanding is the the rust on the rocker panels can start from the ***inside*** if moisture and salt is not periodically flushed out, and the metal is not properly protected.
Thanks for a great review. I’m another tall Honda Element driver (6’6″) and have loved the headroom, legroom (even in the backseats!), and cargo space since I bought it new in ’04. However, I dislike the poor visibility around the A pillar area – I’ve had close calls in the city with not seeing pedestrians because of its bulkiness. Judging from your photos, the Ford looks equally thick there – how do you feel it compares?
The Element lacks a B-pillar and so the two front and rear doors must be quite strong where the join together, and thereby thick. That’s why it has such a big blind spot. I find visibility in the Transit Connect Passenger Wagon to be better all around. That being said, we tall drivers with our seats slid all the way back still have an awkward blind spot in the Transit Connect too, and most vehicles for that matter.
Hmm. I’m 6’9″ with a 38″ inseam. The Honda Element had a dashboard valence that hung just low enough to impede my mid-leg. I thought the Transit Connect would be a good option, but had a really hard time getting a dealership to let me try one. The truck lot tells me to go to the car lot, the car lot tells me to go to the truck lot. WTF?!?!? Eventually I succeeded, and while price, access in and out, and overall height were great, I found the pedals too close to be useable. I prefer a pickup truck, and now that my ’92 Nissan king cab is REALLY long in the tooth, I’m looking for a used Dodge Dakota, last made in 2011. BTW, as the ‘family’ car, I purchased a Toyota Venza. Comfortable enough for me in the front seat, and still comfortable for someone behind me in the back seat.
It’s true the pedals are a bit close together. I definitely won’t be trying to drive with snowboard boots on! On long drives, I actually take my shoes off, which really increases the effective legroom.
Yeh, well, I agree with all of you but there are other considerations besides height. This transit van is very nice, but it has some elements that are not a pro. Firstly, the seats are very cheap and short. As far as I remember also, they provide little lumbar or lateral support for long journeys. Secondly, the van is under powered. I remember reading about how it took a lead foot to get it to speed and for transitions to highway speeds. While I am not as tall as most of you, at 6′ 2″, age 60, and DJD of the low back, there are other considerations besides head height. Finally, longevity of Ford products have nothing to be desired. Alternatives such as the Forester or Outback could be considered. ABF
I do agree there are things left to be desired. However, I have never found a car seat that properly accommodates my long torso. Lumbar support is particularly bad across the industry. So I just use a separate lumbar support. Now what can really mess up your back is when you are slouching to fit in too tight of vehicle. No car avoids this better than the Transit Connect.
All that being said, I plan to upgrade to a Vario XXL car seat some day…
Hi, thanks for the great article. You inspired me to test drive it. And I loved the visibility! But the seat, I couldn’t get over. So a couple of questions because you’ve probably done the research.
1. Do you know if the Vario XXL would actually fit in this car?
And 2. Are there any seat rail extenders on the market currently? I would need to push my seat back a few more inches than what I was allowed.
Thank you so much!
Hi Rip, glad to have another possible convert! I too found the seat a bit uncomfortable at first, particularly the oddly narrow bolstering under the thighs (I think this might be better in 2019 models, though not sure). But over time I’ve gotten used to it. In response to your questions:
1. I do not know if the Vario XXL seat would fit. Maybe the company might have some suggestions on how to verify, like some measurements you could take in the car or measurements they could provide for the seat.
2. I do not know of any stock brackets being sold currently. The only company that actually sells stock seat rail extension brackets is ExtendMySeat, and they don’t have Transit Connect brackets. I’ve suggested they make some given it is such a tall friendly car, but they just haven’t gotten enough interest. So it would be good to drop them a line. Also, in the off chance you aren’t too far of a drive from them, they will borrow your car for a day to develop the bracket, I believe. I would like to add though that sliding the seat further back sometimes can result in the steering wheel being too far away for comfort. For that reason, I get my extra legroom by instead just taking my shoes off!
Please let us know what you end up doing, good luck!
Don’t consider Outback very uncomfortable for tall people. I own 22 Outback Wilderness sport seat are killing my hips. 6.5.
We recently bought a new minivan, and the Transit Connect was the first one we tried. I was also amazed by the headroom, but wasn’t happy with the overall commercial feel of it for our family.
We ended up with a Honda Odyssey, which gives me sufficient headroom even with a sunroof! I’m 6’8″ with 38″ inseam.
We also looked at the Toyota Sienna, which had fair driver headroom, but a fantastic amount of legroom for the middle-row passengers. This would be my recommendation for families with tall teenagers.
It may surprise many, but if you are looking for headroom, legroom, and shoulder width, you should consider a Kia Soul. I find that the Soul is not only comfortable to drive, it’s easy to get into and exit, fun to drive and gets good gas mileage. I was looking to replace a 2005 Dodge Caravan, with over 230000 miles. Needless to say when you are 5 foot 23 inches tall, finding a car to fit is extremely hard. I went into a Kia dealership to try a Sorento on for size. The salesman look at me and said, have you ever tried a Soul. Who would have thought a small crossover/hatchback would have so much room. Headroom, Legroom, I was sold. The car is affordable to. I purchased a used, Alien Green 2016 Kia Soul +, have had it for 1.5 years and am still real happy with it. Kia has another car that I am able to fit in, the Niro Hybrid.
So if headroom/legroom is important, Look into these two models.
I agree, I was so surprised when my 6′ 5″ son was able to sit comfortably in the back of the kia soul.
Good review. I looked at everything in the uk market. Our family is 6’6”, 6’5”, 6.4.5”, 6’4”, 5’11”, +a younger one 3-4 years taller than her chronological age. Two family members are still growing.
So go us it will either be one of these or a long wheelbase minibus type van.
The transit connect also comes in a long wheelbase version that will help with multiple talls in a family hopefully.
Nice article and great tips about the options and trim levels.
Thanks glad you liked it. Is it called the Ford Tourneo in the UK? I couldn’t find roof rack cross bars for mine in North America, but was able to get some from the UK that fit just fine that I think were originally for the Tourneo.
Please review electric cars,
Did you see my post on the Model X. I haven’t sat in every electric car, but I’m pretty sure it’s the best out there as far as electric cars for tall people go. Here’s the post: Model X for Tall People.
Two months ago, I traded in my F-150 on the 2020 Ford Explorer. Can’t be more pleased with my new vehicle. I’m 6’5″, 275 lbs, and it fits me beautifully. The previous editions of this Explorer configuration featured front wheel drive. I could not get in to the driver seat of these vehicles. Well, Ford changed the 2020 to a rear wheel drive giving it 6″ more length, and I love it. I’m actually more comfortable driving my Explorer than my F-150. On top of that, on a recent 400 mile road trip I got 27 mpg!
Interesting, I’ll have to try sitting in a 2020 Explorer at some point.
6’8” with 36” inseam. I’ve driven a 2014 Ford Transit Connect Titanium for over a year. The headroom is amazing. The leg room is okay.
With a rear facing car seat behind the front passenger seat my 5’8” wife is uncomfortable. I don’t think she likes the seats anyway but with a forward facing car seat behind me I am uncomfortable. If only the second row had more room.
Since getting mine, I’m quite used to slipping my shoe off when I drive, it’s really suprising just how much extra leg room this results in (though not sure legality so can’t recommend it to anyone else…). I too have a child car seat behind the passenger seat. Same issues. We also have a Ford Fusion though and same problem there, plus the headroom sucks! So still vastly prefer the Transit Connect. It really is too bad though the second row doesn’t slide… Thanks for writing in.
I’m only 6 ft. 6 in. tall, but I found that the Ford F350 4-wheel drive (diesel) pickup truck was the only vehicle I could fit in that had an extended cab, and a windshield that was tall enough for me to see traffic lights. I now enjoy being able see guard rails on the right of the vehicle as well as traffic on all sides of it. In looking at truck after truck I found that an electrically adjustable driver’s seat provided significantly more leg and headroom. I got one without a center console which would have hit my right leg. It also has adjustable brake and “gas” (diesel) pedals that allow my wife to drive it. I plow with it and I tow a travel trailer as well. Yes, it is a “beast”, but I’ve driven it in downtown Boston without too much difficulty.
Very interesting that the motorized seats provided more legroom. I’m gonna have to see if the Titanium Transit Connect motorized seats provide more legroom!
I am 6’5″ and a service manager for a company. when test driving our service vehicles. I tested the transit and the chevy city express. I felt like there was more room in the express for legroom and foot space. thoughts?
As per the manufacturers’ websites, the Chevy Express has about 1″ more legroom than that Transit Connect. I’m currently trying to convince ExtendMySeat.com guys to do extensions for the Transit Connect. If it works out, then the Transit would win hands down for legroom. I’m not sure about pedal spacing.
What model year Transit Connect did you find? I got in a new Honda Mini van and my knees were slammed up against the dash board with the seat all the way back. I currently have a Sierra but with manual seats I have to turn my knee outward to get on the gas pedal and its approaching 200k miles so I am looking for a new daily driver that is not a pickup truck.
2014 XLT. The Transit Connect is fantastic for headroom but only mediocre for legroom. Hopefully ExtendMySeat will make some extension brackets if enough of us ask them.
I’ve been looking at the Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagons and they all seem to have the headrest that is tilted forward. Just what I would need is a heeadreast in the middle of my shoulders 🙂
Does yours have those headrests ?
My headrest pivot. Are you sure the ones you’ve tried aren’t just tilted all the way forward? To adjust them, pull forward and then the latch releases so they can go back all the way. I actually find the headrests to be more suitable for my tall stature and long torso than just about any other car I’ve been in.
Hi, thanks for this excellent article. A couple questions/comments:
1) On the photo where you are sitting with the blue baseball cap at the steering wheel, it still looks like you’re above the vision line, very close to the roof? I am 6’11”, more torso than legs, and so I would probably not fit? Do you have the seat all the way down?
2) The problem I have with the Vision Line Height measurement is that to accommodate a torso, the distance from the floorboard to the vision line is not much use. What we would have to measure would be the distance between the highest part of the seat cushion (at its lowest setting when fully compressed by someone sitting on it) and the vision line, i.e the top of the windscreen. THAT would be useful.
3) In the picture where you are lying down, how much space did you have left? Would there have been room for an extra 4 inches?
Hi Rob, glad you liked it, I like your insight too.
1) The photograph does look that way, but I think it’s because the camera is looking up a bit at me. I assure you the vision line is above my eyes. The seat is all the way down and I have lots of headroom.
2) Yes “eye room” would be another good measurement. My issues with it though are that it is hard to measure (in contrast, VLH can be done with simple tape measure), and that great eye room may come at the cost of the seat sitting really low which is a problem for long legs. VLH isn’t perfect, but for a testament to its usefulness, consider that the Honda Element, the Scion XB (pre 2006) and the Ford Transit Connect score the highest and are notoriously the best cars for tall people with long torsos. And I also originally came up with VLH as a measure of useful space, meaning the envelope with which someone willing to modify their car had to work with.
3) You’ll have to slide the front seat(s) forward to get another 4″ of length in the back.
I’ll add that legroom in the Transit Connect is only mediocre. But the visibility puts it in a league of its own. For an extremely long torso car shopper not to at least sit in one would be a mistake. They passenger versions are hard to find, but the cargo ones are all over the place.
Hope that helps! Thanks for writing in.
Thank you so much for the incredible article.
My question is have you had anyone test the width? I am only 6’1 1/2, but would only fit into vehicles you listed with a VLH of 51”.
Taking a 60” jacket size and being built like an overweight lineman, driver width becomes very important. The only thing that I can fit in currently is my old Toyota FJ Cruiser. Any help would be most appreciated.
Width might be an issue. Best go find one to sit in. Remember though, roofs can’t be raised, but seats can be modified. Check out the Vario XL seat written about here: car seats for tall people. I don’t know for certain if it will work in a Transit Connect, but would be awesome if it did.
I’ve been car shopping with terrible results for height and the rearview in my way. But, did want to mention I sat in the new KIA Seltos and I could actually raise the rear view mirror about 1 1/2 inches. Not a great amount, but it’s better then nothing. The salesman didn’t even know that could be done.
Thank you so much for letting me know about this awesome roomy vehicle!
I have read all your articles and they have been extremely helpful! Especially your Vision Line Height concept and options for seats.
It confirmed and clarified my criteria in a car also.
I am 6′-3″.
I have had back pain on and off for decades, partially due to my height. I am actually super healthy, but sitting in cars kills me.
Now my butt hurts also, and bad, every time I sit in my car, a KIA Soul. (A surprisingly tall vehicle given it is in the compact category. But it is tall only *relatively* speaking….. for a compact car).
Add to that my lumbar spine issues. I try to jam a lumbar pillow in their, but it just contorts my body in the limited space.
The only thing that matters to me now is the maximium height inside a car! I wanted something fancy, but I am not made for those cars.
I have learned that an upright seating position, with knees at 90 degrees, is best for your back. This is what specialists say.
No vehicle will allow that given the mania to have them all swooped down and aerodynamic. Then the front visibility is terrible too…can’t see up and out properly – and safely!
It has been a tough search, but all your research really helps.
The head room really is exceptional in the Transit Connect.
OH! Big FYI:
** ExtendMySeat now makes the seat bracket extensions for the Transit Connect!****
Glad you found it helpful, and thanks for letting me know the Transit Connect seat brackets are available now, can’t believe they didn’t tell me directly!
Thanks again for all the super helpful information you have compiled here on cars!
I just purchased the 2019 Transit Connect Passenger Wagon! 😀 I had to ship it 3,000 miles cross country, but I did get it in red …..and in the nicest Titanium trim level!
Love it more every day, and it is growing on me. I had wanted something sexier, but my back and health trumps everything else.
I focus on what one reviewer on YouTube said, “This is like driving an IMAX.” It is so spacious.
If space and capacity is luxury….. then this is quite luxurious! It is amazing: from the outside it isn’t giant – but it is inside!
SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!!
It really is the best of both worlds: I can park it in my tiny San Francisco garage, yet it is HUGE inside!!!
(The automatic folding side mirrors are real nice here)
This will actually double as an occasional work van since it has so much cargo room!
Did you ever get the Vario XL tall seat? or the ExtendMySeat bracket?
I have ordered the brackets. FYI: ExtendMySeat does make them now specifically for this car!
You’re absolutely Correct. I’m 6’3” tall with a tall torso. My issue is that I’ve always wanted a sports car but could never fit into one. The low roof line and small door openings made it very difficult to enter and exit the cars. Since finding our 2nd Transit Connect, I have more head and leg room. With two exceptions. I pulled the dead pedal/footrest out of the van for more leg room and altered the head rest paddings so that it doesn’t for my head and neck forward.. Making both of these adjustments has been immensely helpful. But we’re not done. We’re adding skateboard wheels under the seat frame rails to tilt the seats forward at the back as the manual seats have nearly zero adjustment.
You can find my topics on FordTransitUSAForum.Com
Awesome adjustments! I recently adjusted my seat by removing the steel rod that supposedly gives the cushion shape, which was a terrible pressure point.
The Connect seats give a new meaning to the term “Bucket Seats” it makes one feel scrunched up. By using the skateboard wheels, full and half sizes, we should be able to adjust the rear of the seat frame rails to tilt the seat up and forward. The issue with the passenger seat, the back rest has very limited adjustment and with the seat down and back, I’d never be able to sit in it. We’ll forward others with these seats issue to your site while those ask for future references.