Ford Takes on the Chrysler Pacifica with an Updated Transit Connect Wagon
Rolls out in Chicago
Ford left the minivan market to Chrysler/Dodge, Honda, Toyota, and Kia when it discontinued the Freestar after the 2007 model year, then discovered an alternative to the segment with its Transit Connect compact delivery truck.
The Ford Transit Connect is assembled in Turkey and delivered to the U.S. market with windows. Here, the windows are removed and steel panels are inserted, to create a European-style delivery van for the U.S. market while avoiding the 25-percent "Chicken Tax."
When the all-new 2014 Ford Transit Connect arrived on our shores, the redesign (we got our first TC model in the '10 model year) lent itself to broader use as a small family van, complete with windows.
That configuration now accounts for about 15-20 percent of the van's sales. Ford sold 34,473 Transit Connects in 2017, off 20.2 percent from the previous year.
Featuring new sheetmetal ahead of the A-pillar, and a redesigned interior, the '19 Ford Transit Connect Wagon, heretofore known as Transit Connect Passenger Wagon, targets "active" Baby Boomers who will attach bikes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards or luggage to the optional roof rails, or who need to keep working as craftsmen and craftswomen after age 65. In a way, that's pretty much the demographic of the modern minivan buyer.
As with conventional passenger cars, the best way to stop such sales slides is to refresh the model. For the 2019 model year, Ford adds a 1.5-liter turbodiesel engine, which it expects will earn an EPA-estimated 30-mpg on the highway, and a new 2.0-liter gas direct-injection four based on the 160-horsepower Focus 2.0-liter engine. Both new engines are mated to a new, eight-speed automatic based on the Ford-General Motors-developed nine-speed automatic.
The 2.5-liter gas Duratec I-4 with six-speed automatic carries over, but only to fleet buyers who convert to alternative fuels, such as natural gas.
Of course, the big news for most Ford Transit Connect Wagon buyers is the new banquet of connected and driver-assist features. For '19, Ford adds standard Automatic Emergency Braking combined with Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, plus optional Adaptive Cruise Control, and Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert. The Lane Keeping System warns the driver by vibrating the steering wheel, and can apply wheel torque to keep the van centered.
The Transit Connect comes with a standard embedded 4G LTE modem to provide WiFi for up to 10 devices. Sync3 with Ford+Alexa is optional, and there's an available 6.5-inch floating touch screen, digital driver information center, and wireless charging. Ford plans to add Waze compatibility.
The long-wheelbase Transit Connect is built for seven passengers, and Ford claims more interior cargo volume behind the first row compared with the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe.
The short-wheelbase model has seating for five. Both come in XL, XLT, and Titanium trim levels. Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds with the optional trailer towing package. The 2019 Ford Transit Connect goes on sale this fall.