Among Ford’s new or upcoming U.S.-bound people-movers is the 2014 Ford Transit Connect wagon, and Jim Farley as well as other executives recent visited the Motor Trend Garage to let us have a look and kick the tires. Though the Transit Connect is primarily a commercial van, Ford hopes a new three-row wagon variant will be considered by those who don’t want a minivan as large as the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, but still want a third row of seats.
American consumers have had a few years to get acquainted with the current Ford Transit Connect, but when the 2014 Transit Connect arrives here late next year, it will be offered in short- or long-wheelbase variants, as well as commercial or passenger-hauling versions. The van will be based on the same chassis as the C-segment Focus. Jim Farley, Ford’s vice president of global marketing, told us that he sees a lot of opportunity in smaller cars. Farley saysthat B and C segment cars comprised just 13 percent of the U.S. market a few years ago while today it’s 25 percent, making it the largest combined segment in the U.S.
The version we saw was a long-wheelbase seven-passenger model in the range-topping Titanium trim. Features included leather seats, MyFord Touch, two rows of rear seats that fold flat, and plenty of storage options including overhead shelves and a concealed box located ahead of the second-row seats beneath the floor. The Transit Connect is surprisingly spacious. Taller staffers found plenty of third-row seats, which have the ability to move fore and aft. And the simple and boxy design means there’s plenty of headroom, too.
The overall consensus among MT staffers was mostly positive. Sure, the Transit Connect Wagon is more utilitarian than luxurious — premium features like power sliding doors or tailgate or rear seat entertainment system are not available – but its rudimentary focus should give it a significant price advantage over the Sienna and Odyssey (Ford says the base price will be thousands less than those minivans). It should also prove to be more efficient, too, thanks to two four-cylinder powertrains that include a 2.5-liter I-4 and 1.6-liter Ecoboost I-4. Power or fuel figures aren’t out yet, but Ford expects the Ecoboost version to achieve at least 30 mpg on the highway.
The prototype wasn’t quite ready to be driven, so ride impressions will have to come closer to its launch late next year. For now, watch the video below as Farley and Marc Rogowski, Ford’s Brand Manager for the E-Series, Transit, and Transit Connect, discuss the new people mover.