The Ford Transit Connect has filled a niche in the small van segment. Sold in van and wagon configurations, this Turkish-built product is popular with contractors, but receives scant attention as a consumer vehicle. That is about to change as a new vehicle is being readied for the market toward the end of 2013. Ford says that the next generation Transit Connect will seat up to seven people and get more than 30 mpg.
Ford expects to exploit a passenger wagon segment that is underserved when the new Transit Connect debuts for the 2014 model year. This vehicle will be a true “minivan” coming in smaller than today’s models which are larger and heavier than the 1980s minivans that launched this segment.
The new Transit Connect rides on Ford’s global C-segment platform and will be powered by a standard 2.5-liter four cylinder engine. Optionally, a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine will also be available. Both engines will be paired with 6-speed automatic transmissions. The Ford C-MAX, Escape and Focus share the same platform.
The new wagon will offer two wheelbase lengths, enabling customers to choose standard five-passenger room or a wagon seating up to seven people. Available options will include a panoramic full-glass roof, SYNC with MyFord Touch, a 6.5-inch touch screen display with navigation and a rear backup camera. This vehicle will be sold in XL, XLT and Titanium trim levels and offer a payload of at least 1,200 pounds. Ford says that when properly equipped, Transit Connect will have the ability to pull up to 2,000 pounds.
The styling for the new wagon looks familiar to anyone that has seen the 2013 Ford Escape. Noses for both vehicles are similar, with differences between the two vehicles most noticeable from the windshield on back.
Slab sides with belt line touches and rocker panel embellishments distinguish the new wagon. High arched wheel wells and a liftgate flanked by larger tail lights are other distinguishing features. The new Transit Connect is awash in tinted glass to provide maximum road viewing capabilities for its passengers.
Among the media material released with the Transit Connect, Ford took the unusual step to demonstrate how its new wagon can be packed, using the example of an IKEA living room set to show how those items can be placed in this tall wagon. That set includes a loveseat, a chair, a desk, a coffee table and a media center consisting of 22 boxes from the Swedish home products company. The point Ford is making is that it would only take one trip to your IKEA store in the Transit Connect, an example given perhaps to allay fears that the wagon is not up to the shopping hauling task.
Ford plans to provide more information about the Transit Connect in conjunction with the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show later this month. Expect this vehicle to make the auto show circuit throughout the winter and spring, with production beginning late next summer.
Photo courtesy of the Ford Motor Company.