The Ford Transit Connect packs a lot of cargo space into a relatively small footprint, but even the passenger version always felt a little too commercial to be used as a personal passenger vehicle. That may change -- Ford announced this past week that it's offering a new Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon trim level in 2011, which is designed to appease customers looking to use the van primarily as a people mover.
"Since Transit Connect arrived [in North America] as the ultimate tool for small business proprietors, we've heard requests from potential personal-use customers," said Rob Stevens, Ford's chief nameplate engineer for commercial vehicles, in a prepared release. "Buyers looking for a taller wagon with seating for five passengers and generous cargo space have shown interest in Transit Connect."
Admittedly, the transformation wasn't all that difficult to execute -- after all, Ford does offer a passenger version, the Tourneo Connect, in Europe. Unlike that model, however, the XLT Premium Wagon remains a two-row, five-seat vehicle, despite gaining pop-out windows in the cargo area. Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagons also receive some plastic trim for the cargo area, where it now covers the load floor, wheel wells, and surfaces just beneath the quarter windows. Sadly, the sweet wheels shown on this particular model are simply conceptual.
Although it isn't available with Sync (or the cargo van's Ford Work Solutions system), the Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon is offered with a few electronic niceties. A rear-view camera and blind-spot alert system are optional, as is Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.
Look for Ford's new family hauler to make its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, and arriving at dealers shortly afterwards. Pricing for the passenger-friendly Transit Connect starts at $23,895, including destination.