We had the chance to crawl all over Ford’s Transit Connect van at the New York Auto Show and liked what we saw. While the trucklet’s looks may be controversial, there’s no arguing over its versatility …
Just don’t call it a minivan …
With 143 cubic feet of storage and 6 feet by 7 1/2 feet of floor space, the Ford Transit Connect will carve a sizable niche in a work van market that’s more than ready for change. As small businesses deal with the brutal realities of soaring gasoline prices, conventional truck sales are taking it on the chin.
CarConnection’s let it slip that Ford is about to bring its Transit Connect van here to the States. CC’s blog states that the Transit Connect will be “will be pitched as an alternative to the Dodge Sprinter.” Half a Dodge Sprinter, more like it. The Transit Connection might be angular and relatively tall, but it’s small when compared to the hulking Sprinter …
Need a four wheel drive with the best gas mileage? Get ready to downsize. None of the best gas mileage four wheel drives (4WDs) are jumbo-sized sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
Simply put, the aerodynamics and vehicle weight of the bulkiest SUVs cause gas mileage to suffer, leading to many a painful transaction at the pump. The trick is to get small(er), lighter, and more slippery. Credit Subaru for getting the ball rolling with popularizing economical 4WD drive passenger cars in the early days. Since 1997, every vehicle Subaru’s offered in America has been all wheel drive.
These days, it’s not just Subaru. There are plenty of four wheel drive choices that are neither truck nor SUV. And forget the notion of pint-sized economy cars. You’ll find a generous helping of 4WD luxury from manufacturers including Audi, Volvo, Cadillac, and Lexus … in fact, you’ll find many of their offerings in the 2008 list of best gas mileage four wheel drives.
Purists will gladly share that there’s a difference between four wheel drive and all wheel drive (AWD). And surely there is … but for a great many folks, it comes down to two simple questions: will it go in the snow and will I go broke feeding it?
At the other end of the spectrum, the little Suzuki SX4 delivers plenty of bang for the buck, by combining the best four wheel drive gas mileage with a low sticker price (for those who don’t just think miles per gallon … but miles per dollar.)
Along with its corporate cousins, the Ford Escape Hybrid proves the exception to the rule as the highest all around mile per gallon (MPG) four wheel drive vehicle. If you can’t get a great deal on an Escape Hybrid at your local Ford dealer, take a look at the Mercury Mariner Hybrid. And if you happen to live in Southern California, the Mazda Tribute Hybrid HEV might be an option … as long as you’re able to snag one of the 350 Tribute HEVs built for this test market.)
The Kia Sedona went into production in 1999 and was redesigned for the 2006 model year. While the Sedona’s gas mileage ratings are in step with the competition, at 16 city and 23 highway miles per gallon (MPG), fuel-efficiency is not the seven-seat Sedona’s biggest draw. Rather, it is the Sedona’s safety record and affordability that inspire a great many buyers. Kia proudly states that “the Sedona is the first and only minivan ever to earn both a 5-star crash safety rating” from the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and “be named “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.” (The Hyundai Entourage is based on the Sedona.)/p>
The 2008 Kia Sedona is equipped with a 3.8 liter V-6 that produces 250 horsepower (HP) and 253 foot pounds of torque. While a turbo-diesel is not currently available in US versions of the Sedona, an economical DOHC 2.9 liter CRDi turbo-diesel, producing a generous 343 foot pounds of torque is available abroad. To provide reassurance of the Sedona’s reliability and longevity, Kia provides a 10 year, 100,000 mile limited power train warranty and other significant warranties.
The Hyundai Entourage is based on Kia’s Sedona minivan and was introduced to America in the 2007 model year. The Entourage seats seven and achives gas mileage ratings of 16 city and 23 highway miles per gallon (MPG). Like the Sedona, the Entourage earned a class-topping 5-star crash safety rating from the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and was named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The 2008 Hyundai Entourage is fitted with a DOHC 3.8 liter V-6 that produces 242 horsepower (HP). Hyundai provides a 10-year / 100,000 mile limited power train warranty, along with a 5-year / 60,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty, and a 7-year / unlimited miles anti-perforation warranty.