For decades, the Ford Crown Victoria sedan has been the dominant taxi in NYC and other cities. But Ford is discontinuing the aging rear-drive sedan, which has also been a favorite among police forces for their pursuit cars. To replace the Crown Vic, Ford is selling what we think may be the best taxi package in the world outside of the iconic London cab.
We feared the Transit Connect, with its comfortable rear-sitting space and ample luggage area, was doomed when New York City chose the Nissan NV200 as its official yellow taxi choice. But the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) can approve other vehicles for the fleet, and that's just what they've done. Taxi operators can choose to add the yellow, 2.0-liter gas-powered van, as well as the upcoming compressed-natural-gas and electric versions to their stables if they choose.
Ford has also sold the Transit Connect taxi, which is manufactured in Turkey, to fleet operators in Boston, Philadelphia, Orlando and to cities in California.
Why do we like the Transit Connect taxi so much? Because it lacks the hump the Crown Victoria has in the floor, which always made it a problem for one rear-seat passenger to slide over to make room for another. Too, if the partition is set too far back in the Crown Vic, it makes for scant leg-room.
In the last decade, the taxi fleets have become much more diverse, including in New York. Ford Escapes, Toyota Camrys, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna minivans, Nissan Altimas and Ford Explorers have all turned up as taxis. In cities like Las Vegas, Toyota Prius hybrids have been purchased by taxi fleets. The worst of these, for rider comfort and access, has arguably been the Ford Escape.
None of these vehicles, though were made to be taxis, and rider comfort can be severely compromised depending on where the partition is placed.
"Approval from the TLC is significant because it allows Ford the opportunity to offer New York City taxi operators and the riding public a taxi that is comfortable, durable, provides excellent fuel efficiency and delivers it all in a much smaller footprint that helps with congestion," said Kevin Koswick, director, Ford North American Fleet Operations.
The Transit Connect, which is sold by Ford primarily as a light-duty commercial van, has an ideal step-in height and leg room for two passengers, three in a squeeze. Headroom is ample, as well. The whole package rivals the London cab or the once ubiquitous Checker cab for an ideal taxi package.