2014 Ford Transit Connect Van
By Paul A. Eisenstein
On Sale: Fourth Quarter 2013
Expected Pricing: Starting around $23,000
Ford has some big plans for its next-generation Transit Connect van. Make that vans, as we'll see the upcoming update yield two distinct new versions, including the Wagon which gets Ford back into the minivan game, and the commercial version of the Transit Connect.
That version has proved to be a surprising success since its introduction three years ago thanks to a flexible design that can readily be converted for use by anyone from a plumber to the owner of a catering company.
The Transit Connect was among the first of the Detroit maker's products designed as part of the so-called One Ford program. Where the automaker traditionally developed different models for key markets like Europe and the U.S., it is now focusing on coming up with designs that can, with only minimal change, be marketed around the world. Ford's European product development team led the Transit Connect program and that meant they put a premium on efficiency, both in terms of space and fuel consumption.
Visually, the new model is more modern and a little less awkward than the original U.S. version of the Transit Connect. Among the design revisions, the 2014 van will pick up the new signature trapezoid grille found on such recent Ford additions as the midsize Fusion sedan.
At less than seven feet tall, the van can fit in just about any urban parking structure, yet it has a surprising amount of cargo space, 127 cubic feet, for a wine or flower merchant, for example, or a caterer. And the distinctive sides also provide a striking mobile billboard.
Though Americans won't get the high-efficiency diesels offered in Europe, Ford still hopes to get bragging rights for the efficiency of the two Stateside offerings once the EPA comes in with final specifications. Currently, the outgoing model's 2.0-liter delivers 21 mpg City, 27 Highway and 23 Combined.
The new Transit Connect Wagon, Ford says, will top 30 on the highway, and that means the lighter commercial van could do even better with the optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder. The alternative is a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four. The maker hasn't released specs, but the same engines in the new Ford Escape maker 178 horsepower and 168 horsepower, respectively.
A 6-speed automatic gearbox will be the only transmission choice and Ford is going with front-drive only for the U.S. market.
Ford briefly produced an electric version of the original U.S. Transit Connect, a program scrubbed when partner Azure Dynamics went bankrupt. There has been no mention of whether a new EV model might follow, perhaps produced in-house by Ford itself.
But the new Transit Connect will feature plenty of new technology, including Load Adaptive Control, which uses the vehicle's electronic stability control system to adjust the suspension to compensate for changing cargo weight and positioning.
The U.S. version of the new Transit Connect will reach showrooms by the fourth quarter of 2013.