We Americans have enjoyed the pleasure of the Transit Connect’s company for a few years now, and whether or not the idea of a small urban van is novel, the fact remains: the current Transit Connect is 10 freakin’ years old, built by gypsies and based on the platform of the first Focus—you know, the one with all the recalls. The world has gone through three generations of the car since then.
Fortunately, 10 years of production does things to a platform: the bugs have been sorted out, and even with this oldster in our midst, it’s enjoyed a category all to itself: the compact van, perfect for florist’s shops and trendy mobile dog grooming services. But what’s old has to go someday, and a new Transit Connect will be finally shared with us and Europe—and even at the same time, under the “One Ford” plan. What a concept!
Starting with the messy bits under the bodywork, the new Transit Connect rides on an entirely new platform, which is presumably shared with Ford Europe’s compact cars such as the C-MAX Hybrid and the Focus. This time around, the Transit Connect will be even more family-friendly, a viable option to America’s virtually-nonexistent small minivan market. (Currently, the Mazda5 is the only one that comes to mind, as well as another—Ford’s C-MAX.) To wit, the Transit Connect Wagon gets full-length windows that stretch to the back, more chrome brightwork, body-colored door handles and mirrors, and gleaming roof racks.
It’s the style that will get the Transit Connect some attention: it carries the trapezoidal grille from the Fusion and Focus, which has all but become Ford’s new corporate face. Fender flares give the Connect more, well, flair, while a palette of bright colors—like the garish yellow shown above—will take the Connect out of the realm of industrial appliances.
Engines and Drivetrains
Ford hasn’t released specific powertrain details yet, but it won’t surprise us that the engines will be similar to what’s available in the Focus. Namely, a 1.6-liter EcoBoost, and a 2.5-liter unit, both four-cylinders, will carry over from both the Focus and the Fusion—and paired to a six-speed automatic, they could both yield north of 170 horsepower. For a delivery van, that would be more than enough.
In Europe, an array of diesels will be available alongside gasoline engines. If Ford brings us a diesel, it will be a bold move for a company that once declared itself full of Bold Moves.
Bringing the Transit Connect to America to begin with was a bold move for Ford. But no matter how singular its position in the market was, things have to catch up. After all, the Transit Connect isn’t the next Econoline, designed to languish for 30-plus years. That Ford is dead. This Ford, the “One Ford“ Ford, is ready to bring us a new Transit Connect because it finally believes that America deserves modern, fresh minivans just like the rest of the planet. Between the C-MAX and the Transit Connect, Ford is getting enviable mileage from its compact platform—and the conventional powertrains likely to be available should help distinguish it from the C-MAX Hybrid and Energi. And curiously enough, this marks the first return of a consumer-oriented van since before the first Connect, dating back to the Freestar, a product Ford wishes we wouldn’t bring up. This Connect should be as far removed from that execrable machine as possible, and all the better for it.
Bold move, indeed.