By Mary Lowry
It has finally come to this. The poor minivan has been slammed so much that Ford’s marketing logo for the new Transit Connect Wagon is based entirely on what it isn’t.
What’s the logo? The word “unminivan” in all caps, preceded by a hashtag.
The Transit Connect originated in Europe in 2002 and was exported to North America beginning in 2009. It had a long nose and super-high top, and resembled the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo van, only much smaller, as though designers clicked on the Sprinter and zoomed out. But designers also gave the T.C. more personality than the Sprinter.
Transit Connect’s compact size and yawning cargo area make it ideal for owners of small businesses, especially those providing delivery service, such as florists. It eliminates maneuverability and parking problems in crowded urban areas, and cuts down on fuel expenses. Shelving and storage layout can be customized to accommodate individual needs.
For 2014, the Transit Connect gets a major update, and Ford is going all out to make it more appealing to non-commercial users with the all-new Transit Connect Wagon model. It lacks the tall roof of the original, for example.
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Transit Connect Wagon is based on the Ford Focus platform and comes in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase versions. With a long wheelbase, there’s seating for up to seven people. Short wheelbase models top out at seating for five. When second- or third-row seats are folded, they leave a flat cargo area.
For cargo access, there’s a choice between a rear liftgate or swing-out doors with side hinges. Dual sliding doors make entry and exit easier, but they also make Ford’s efforts to convince us it’s not a minivan more difficult. The T.C.W.’s compact size is the main trait separating it from today’s big bulging minivans.
Two engines are available: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder generating 169 horsepower with an EPA rating of 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, and a 1.6-liter EcoBoost (turbo) four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and an EPA rating of 22/29 mpg. A six-speed automatic transmission comes with either choice, and the tow rating is 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.
XL, XLT, and Titanium are the three trim levels offered. The short wheelbase is available only on the XLT.
Keyless entry, power windows and a front row full-width overhead storage shelf are standard across the model line. The XLT adds fog lamps, power adjustable and heated outside mirrors, cruise control, a rear-view camera and a 4.2-inch LCD multi-function display screen.
Standard equipment upgrades on the Titanium model include a six-way power driver seat with heat and lumbar adjustment, rain-sensing windshield wipers, cornering fog lamps, compass display, and SYNC with MyFord Touch with 6.5-inch screen, rear-view camera, HD radio and satellite radio.
A fixed-glass panoramic roof, torque vectoring control, and forward and reverse sensing systems are other available features.
Tall people might like this bit of information: Tall Clubs International selected the Transit Connect Wagon as its Best Vehicle for the Vertically Gifted because of its 3.9 feet of driver and passenger head room.
The 2014 Transit Connect Wagon is produced in Valencia, Spain, and is available now at dealerships. According to Ford, pricing starts at about $25,000.
This overview of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon is based on an introductory event held by the manufacturer. Although the vehicle was driven briefly during the event, automotive reviews that include driving impressions and other opinions appear only after a vehicle has been given the standard weeklong test-drive.