2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon will get more than 30 miles a gallon even as a seven-passenger vehicle.
(Photo: Ford Motor)
Chris Woodyard and Fred Meier, USA TODAY
Ford is getting back into the minivan market it abandoned in 2006 with a smaller family hauler based on the redesign of its Transit Connect commercial vehicle.
Ford is portraying the 2014 Transit Connect Wagon (Ford has avoided using the "m" word) as an alternative to traditional minivans still made by Chrysler, Volkswagen (built by Chrysler), Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Kia. It says the new van will go on sale in the fourth quarter of next year.
"Minivans have gotten too big, too expensive and consume too much fuel," says Ford spokesman Mike Levine. "People are leaving the segment" and will be attracted to a vehicle that "will have more space inside than an Escape or Edge."
While Ford left the minivan segment in the U.S. with the demise of the Freestar in 2006, it has continued to sell people vans in Europe and elsewhere. General Motors left the U.S. market in 2009, but also has continued to sell versions elsewhere.
The new Fords are versions of the "people mover" models of Ford's coming redesign of its global Transit Connect van line and will be built for the U.S. in Valencia, Spain.
The new Transit Connect Wagon will come in seven- and five-passenger versions, and will have the minivan-required sliding side doors. The larger version will compete with the traditional minivans such as the Toyota Sienna, but will be 10.5 inches shorter than a Sienna and about 6 inches narrower.
The smaller Transit Connect Wagon will be more than 2 feet shorter than a Sienna, but will be about the size and compete directly with the compact Mazda5 van.
Ford says the large version will not only be a bit smaller, but lighter, cheaper and more fuel efficient than a traditional minivan. It did not disclose prices, though, and said only that it expects the Transit Connect Wagon to have a city mileage rating at least 2 miles per gallon better than the Sienna's 18 mpg, or at least 20, and a highway rating at least 5 mpg higher than Sienna, or at least 30.
The vans will offer only four-cylinder engines, a 2.5-liter four and a 1.6-liter turbocharged four. Its traditional full-size minivan rivals offer V-6 engines.
Ford brought the current Transit Connect to the U.S. about three years ago where it has had success as a small, fuel-efficient commercial van alternative. There's a small, five-passenger version sold through Ford's commercial dealers, as well, with many sold for duty as taxicabs.
With the redesign and seven-seat version, however, Ford now is going full-tilt into the market for retail minivan buyers.
Other selling points Ford cited in its announcement are that theTransit Connect Wagon will have a lot of space for its size, about 100 cubic feet, and will be able to carry at least 1,200 pounds of people and cargo.