The Ford Motor Company has unveiled its next-generation Transit Connect, a compact van that is also available as a family wagon. The new van is slated to go on sale stateside late in 2013, following an official auto show debut this January. Built in Turkey and exported to the United States, Transit Connect will receive a well-deserved and much-needed overhaul to better compete in the emerging small van market.
Details about the 2014 Ford Transit Connect are limited, but with the few pictures Ford has offered, the new vehicle will have a face quite similar to the all-new Escape SUV, but with a longer windshield, ample glass all around and rear-hinged rear doors. A generous-sized liftgate will make it easier for items to be placed in the rear compartment; a ramp option could make this vehicle once again a mobility option for physically challenged people. A windowless version will denote the van, a vehicle that currently offers a 1,600 pound payload capacity.
The current Transit Connect is powered by an older 2.0-liter four cylinder engine and paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission. This 1990s technology is woefully outdated and will likely give way to a more modern gasoline engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Look for Ford to offer at least two gas engine choices, perhaps offering an EcoBoost engine to maximize power in a smaller footprint. European editions will also offer diesel options.
TC is also behind in serving up other Ford technologies including the current version of Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch. Though Ford hasn’t announced what goodies will adorn the TC, look for improved telematics, Bluetooth connectivity, audio system options, a navigation system and a rear view camera to be made available. Power accessories for windows, doors, seats and liftgate also seem to be logical additions for this can-do van.
As before, the 2014 Ford Transit Connect will likely be built in Europe and shipped stateside. When these vehicles arrive in the states, they’re equipped as wagons, with seating for five. Van conversion takes place before the vehicles are shipped to dealers, a process that seems wasteful, but helps Ford avoid a 25 percent import tax on such vehicles. Ford could build the TC in the U.S., but the automaker is using its limited capacity to begin building the Ford Transit, a full-size van that will replaced the aged Ford Econoline beginning in 2013.
The Ford Transit Connect has the distinction of being the first of six models associated with the “One Ford” plan announced in 2008 to unify Ford’s product lines. Since then, a subcompact Fiesta, a compact Fusion, its Escape SUV, its C-MAX MPV and now its next generation Fusion have helped bridge the model gap by giving the U.S. true “world cars” that are modern in every sense of the word. Except for the Transit Connect, of course, which will soon be redesigned and be made available for sale worldwide.