LA Auto Show: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

At Detroit’s NAIAS in 2011, Ford showed us the then-forthcoming C-Max and Grand C-Max peoplemovers. I was particularly excited for the Grand C-Max, which would offer seven-passenger seating in a form factor smaller than a full-scale minivan or SUV. I was disappointed when, a few short months later, Ford changed course and decided to offer only the five-passenger C-Max stateside. I considered it to be a failure of the One Ford philosophy of offering common models throughout the world.

Perhaps seeing the need for a smaller seven-passenger peoplemover, Ford announced the 2014 Transit Connect Wagon last week, and that vehicle is making its debut Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show as a part of the automaker’s small/efficient vehicle push. The second generation of the Transit Connect family will be available in both short wheelbase (five-passenger) and new long-wheelbase (seven-passenger) versions. I wanted to take a closer look at the Transit Connect Wagon, and how it compares to the Grand C-Max which our market was denied.

With hindsight gained by the introduction of the Transit Connect Wagon, it is now understandable why Ford chose not to import the Grand C-Max. It all has to do with American tastes and size requirements.  Today, as was the case in 2011 when the Grand C-Max was introduced, the only seven-passenger vehicle in the small MPV class is the Mazda 5. While the Mazda does have a niche following, many people who want the versatility of a seven-passenger vehicle find the Mazda5 too small. Indeed, I test drove one but couldn’t comfortably fit behind the wheel, let alone the third row. I was actually able to sit in the third row of the Transit Connect Wagon today, and although the bottom cushion is low to the floor, my knees didn’t touch the seatback in front of me.

While the Grand C-Max has dimensions close to those of the Mazda5 (I used specifications from a UK-market Grand C-Max for comparison), the seven-passenger Transit Connect Wagon is significantly longer and taller, which provides significantly more legroom especially in the third row, and significantly more cargo room, plus a flat load floor (implemented by a series of folding covers to bridge gaps between folded seats). Moving beyond the dimensional specifications,  the Transit Connect Wagon has a somewhat more upright and industrial style to it, and it feels significantly more spacious than than the more intimate feel of an expanded sedan or wagon, which was my impression of the Grand C-Max.

Notably, the Transit Connect Wagon is fairly close in size to the original, K-car-based Chrysler minivans that went on sale in the early 1980s, creating the segment. Since that time, models in the American minivan segment have bloated in size to become much more spacious and luxurious, but that size translates into poor fuel economy and somewhat unwieldy size.  Ford is hoping to exploit a Transit Connect Wagon-sized gap in current vehicle offerings by bringing the usefully right-sized seven-passenger vehicle to the US.

Powertrain offerings will include a 2.5 liter four cylinder and a turbocharged 1.6 liter EcoBoost, each mated to a six-speed  automatic transmission driving the front wheels.  While exact power and economy figures are not yet available, the extra-cost-optional EcoBoost four is being promoted as offering 30 MPG on the freeway. In addition to being offered with five or seven seats which may be upholstered in leather or cloth, the Transit Connect will also be available as a cargo van which has a 1200 lb payload and is rated to tow 2000 lbs.

Ford’s 2014 Transit Connect Wagon will be on sale in Q4 2013, so a year from now. Between now and that on-sale date, we can expect to see more details emerge, and you can expect a review of the vehicle from Autosavant as soon as the vehicle become available to us.

 

Mazda5

Grand C-MAX (7 seats)

Transit Connect Wagon 7 seats

Dimensions – inches
Exterior
Overall length

180.5

177.9

189.7

Overall width without mirrors

68.9

71.9

72.2

Overall max height (unladen)

63.6

66.3

72

Wheelbase

108.3

109.7

120.6

Track front min/max depending on tyre size and wheel offset

60.2

60.7

61.7

Track rear min/max

59.8

61.1

61.7

Interior
Front headroom

40.7

40.8

46.9

Front max legroom

40.7

40.8

41.3

Front shoulder room

55.5

55.9

57.6

Second row headroom

39.4

38.9

45.1

Second row legroom

39.4

34.0

38.1

Second row shoulder room

55.5

56.1

58.5
Third row headroom

37.1

36.8

41.3
Third row legroom

30.5

30.8

35.5
Third row shoulder room

49.3

46.8

56.3

Luggage capacity – cubic feet
7-seat mode, laden to roof  n/a

4.1

19.8 cuft

5-seat mode, laden to roof

44.4

25.3

50

2-seat mode, laden to roof  n/a

61.5

100

 

Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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