2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon
By Paul A. Eisenstein
On Sale: Early 2013
Expected Pricing: Starting around $24,000
Ford is getting back into the minivan game. That may sound surprising, considering the steady decline in the once-huge segment. But the Detroit maker's strategy reflects its general shift to sharing products on a global scale, rather than designing them for one market alone.
Following the example of the small Fiesta and Focus models, Ford turned to its European design studio for the new Transit Connect Wagon, a people-mover sold on the other side of the Atlantic as the Tourneo. Whether you prefer to call it a wagon, people-mover or 7-seater, it's much more minivan-like than the current Ford Flex, notably including the classic sliding doors that enhance flexibility when it comes to loading up the local Little League.
The Transit Connect Wagon, as the name implies, is a personal use version of the Transit Connect van that has proved surprisingly popular with fleet and business customers. Both models are completely updated for the new model-year.
The Transit Connect Wagon will be offered with a choice of two powertrain options, a 2.5-liter inline-four; or a 1.6-liter EcoBoost I4 that is expected to deliver better than 30 mpg on the highway, making it the minivan segment leader in fuel economy.
The Transit Connect Wagon will be available in both short, five-passenger and extended wheelbase seven-passenger configurations. Ford says payload capacity will be up to 1,200 pounds with a maximum 100 cubic feet of cargo space. Towing capacity will max out at 2,000 pounds, which is 500 more, notes Ford, than a four-cylinder Toyota Highlander.
Optional features will include large, panoramic glass roof, rearview camera, Sync infotainment system and onboard navigation. As for safety technology, there will be the usual, federally mandated brake-based systems such as ABS and electronic stability control while, Ford notes, it will also feature first-row frontal, pelvis and side airbags, with first-, second- and third-row side curtain airbags in long-wheelbase models. Short-wheelbase versions get first- and second-row side curtain airbags.
Minivans have had a meteoric rise and fall over the past three decades, but despite being fodder for comedians, there's still a solid core of buyers who love the flexibility they offer. Recently, the list of offerings has plunged along with minivan segment sales. Ford, in particular, abandoned its last true minivan, the Freestar in 2007, but it's betting the new Transit Connect Wagon will help it regain momentum.
We expect pricing to start somewhere between $24,000 and $25,000.