The second generation seven-seat Ford Grand Tourneo Connect is a rugged but cleverly-engineered people mover that's sourced from commercial vehicle roots but offers enough sophistication to suit the needs of many growing families. This is a car that aims to help families get a little more out of life. And in creating it, the Blue Oval brand has received more than a little help from Volkswagen.
Shared design with family MPVs is nothing new. And it's very much in evidence with this one, Ford's second generation Grand Tourneo Connect. The Blue Oval brand has long ploughed its own furrow when it comes to its commercial vehicle range, but that's changed with a more recent partnership with Volkswagen that will see all future Blue Oval brand van models paired with their VW counterparts. Which means that the third generation Ford Transit Connect has been designed to share all its engineering with the current fifth generation Volkswagen Caddy. Which in turn also means that the People Carrier version of that Ford, this Tourneo Connect model, had to be a Blue Oval version of the MPV model that VW markets to family passenger car customers as the Caddy - or Caddy Life. If you've followed all of that, it'll explain why the Ford Tourneo Connect model line we examine here, launched in late 2021 and on sale here from Summer 2022, looks so similar to its Wolfsburg competitor, especially in profile - and beneath the bonnet. Want to find out more? We drove the lengthened L2 Grand Tourneo Connect version of this design to bring you this Review.
Ford hasn't just borrowed a Volkswagen chassis here but also engines too, though to disguise the fact, the Blue Oval's given the units concerned its own 'EcoBoost' and 'EcoBlue' branding. Ultimately, what it all boils down to is that you get the same powerplant choice that would be available to you with a comparable Volkswagen Caddy MPV. This means Grand Tourneo Connect customers get to choose from either a 1.5 litre EcoBoost turbo petrol unit (with 114PS) or the alternative 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel, available in 112PS or 122PS outputs. All models feature six-speed manual transmission as standard, with the alternative of a seven speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles and a 'Sport' mode. Choose that auto and your car can also be specified with Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centring, which provides assisted driving for accelerator, braking and steering functions to reduce stress on highways or in stop and start traffic. Volkswagen isn't (currently) offering 4WD on Caddy MPVs but Ford has decided to make it available here - for the first time on any Tourneo Connect. The system automatically distributes torque between the wheels depending on driving conditions and surfaces, helping drivers maintain progress in more challenging conditions. All-wheel drive is available on models fitted with the 2.0-litre 122PS EcoBlue diesel engine and six speed manual gearbox and does not compromise interior space or loading height. Engine under-shield protection is available to support customers who frequently drive on rough surfaces.
There's a choice of two body lengths here, a short wheelbase L1 model with the option of three seating rows and the long wheelbase L2 Grand Tourneo Connect variant we're looking at here that features them standard and is obviously much better suited for the transport of seven folk. The previous version of this model looked very much like a van with windows, but this design has much more of a passenger car vibe, its more sculpted exterior offering a sportier, more lifestyle-orientated look. Particularly if you go for the crossover-style 'Active' version we tried, which gets two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, a silvered skid plate, a honeycomb-style front grille and body mouldings around the bumpers, wheel arches and door sills. Inside, Ford has added its badge to the steering wheel and re-branded the glass-fronted central infotainment screen, but otherwise, the cabin's straight from a Volkswagen Caddy. Overall though, it's all a big step forward from this model's predecessor and there's certainly more of a solid, quality feel than you'd normally expect from a family Ford. Avoid base trim and you'll get a centre infotainment screen of 10-inch inches in size. The top configurable 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster though, is reserved for the priciest 'Sport' models. Whatever the layout, your main area of focus curves around your sight line, the section for the central monitor flowing into the instrument binnacle layout, which you view through the spokes of a smart three-spoke capacitive steering wheel. This adjusts widely, like the supportive seats. As you'd want, there's lots of cabin storage space - notably at the base of the centre stack and between the seats - plus both the door bins and the glovebox are of a very decent size. In the second row, it's comfortable for two - but might be a bit of a squash for three because you don't get three individual chairs. In the third row, there's much more space for knees and heads than would usually be the case with any seven-seater SUV that isn't ridiculously large. Provided you've chosen this Grand Tourneo variant, even adults could fit without too many complaints. What about luggage space? Well in this L2 model in five-seat format, you're looking at 1,720-litres of space thanks to an extra 353mm of body length over the standard body style. Fold the second row seats and it really does get van-like, with 3,105-litres of space in the Grand Tourneo L2 model.
You need to think in terms of pricing for this Grand Tourneo Connect starting from just under the £27,000 mark: there's an £800 premium over the shorter L1 body shape. You can get the L1 version with optional third row seating, but we can't really see why you ever would because you'd be paying Grand Tourneo Connect money and getting less space. There's a premium of around £800 to go from the 114PS 1.5-litre petrol engine to the 122PS 2.0-litre diesel and both engines can be had with 7-speed auto transmission for around £900 more. 4WD's an option on the top diesel unit too. It all means there's a really useful saving here against the identically-engineered Volkswagen version of this model, even if you compare against the more basic Caddy rather than the more MPV-like Caddy Life, both models that roll down the same Polish VW production line as this Ford. Combustion-engined van-based compact MPV competitors are thin on the ground since the Stellantis Group models in this segment went all-electric. There's really only the pricier Mercedes T-Class. There are four trim levels available, starting with base 'Trend' spec, identifiable by a gloss black grille surround and wheel trims. Move up to 'Titanium' level and you get satin chrome detailing, privacy glass and 16-inch alloy wheels. The 'Sport' model features bonnet stripes, a more dynamic lower front bumper and 17-inch dark alloy wheels. But the version you probably ideally want is the SUV-inspired 'Active' model we tried, which gets crossover-style metallic-effect skid plates and additional body mouldings around the wheel arches, sills and bumpers, along with unique 17-inch wheels.
You'll lose about 5% in terms of efficiency by opting for this heavier Grand Tourneo Connect body shape, but the figures are still pretty good. The EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel engines in use here have been optimised for fuel efficiency, the most economical 2.0 EcoBlue diesel 122PS manual L2 model managing up to 56.5mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions from 131g/km (or 53.3mpg and 139g/km as an auto). As for the 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol L2 model, well with that you're looking at up to 42.8mpg and up to 150g/km as a manual; or up to 41.5mpg and up to 155g/km as an automatic. Auto Start-Stop technology is standard across the range as you'd expect. And both diesel engines feature the VW Group-pioneered 'twin-dosing' system that injects AdBlue upstream of two selective catalytic converters to help reduce nitrogen oxides, and are also compatible with Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) and Gas to Liquids (GTL) alternative fuels. This Tourneo Connect comes with the usual Ford three year/60,000 mile warranty and a year of roadside assistance. You could pay more to extend this cover to either five years and 100,000 miles or eight years and 100,000 miles. Most owners will want to take out the 'Ford Protect Service Plan Plus' programme, which allows customers to spread the cost of routine maintenance.
This second generation Grand Tourneo Connect is a car that has been launched with a minimum of fanfare. In fact, we'd even go as far as to say that Ford might well have shot itself in the foot in not making greater play here. Buyers looking for a rugged vehicle that doesn't cost the earth and which can seat seven aren't particularly well served at the moment. Full-sized MPVs and seven-seater SUVs aren't cheap and if you already have that many mouths to feed, splashing out around thirty grand for a car might not be top of the family priority list. As an exercise in making the right calls between sophistication and simplicity though, Ford has got this one spot on, even if it has had to borrow heavily from Volkswagen to do it. Even if you don't need to seat seven, it's still a better buy than the five-seater purely because of all the luggage space you get when five-up. If you want to get one over on most MPV (and many SUV) buyers with family space and practicality, the Grand Tourneo Connect looks like the inside tip.