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It's Not a Minivan

2014 Ford Transit Connect

Somewhere along the line the minivan became the pariah of vehicles. I don’t know why. When our two kids were small we had one, and never once was I ashamed to pull into the parking lot of Tops with all of the other moms to do...wait a minute. Maybe it was a guy thing, because the minivan was often the family’s second vehicle, a.k.a. the one not driven much by Dad, it was viewed by them as a girly car. But at some point even the Moms seem to have disowned them, preferring instead the SUV or crossover which probably costs more, get crummy gas mileage, and doesn’t have much more room inside than the “regular” family chariot.

However, there’s still a non-commercial market out there for minivans. How do you suppose your neighbor with the five or six kids transports the whole family around town? Some even drive the big 15-passenger full-sized window vans, loaded with people. Ford has put some effort the past few years into the small van market. First came the Transit Connect van, a small delivery vehicle for the businesses who don’t necessarily need a full-sized van. And now they’ve expanded the line with the Transit Connect Wagon, a window version with either five or seven passenger capacity.

Available in two wheelbases, 104.8-inch and 120.6-inch, the shorter Wagon’s seats can flip out of the way, fold down, or be taken out to use the van for hauling or maybe even sleeping. It has almost 47 cu. ft. of space behind the second row, or over 77 cu. ft. of space behind the front row with the second row folded. The longer van’s second and third rows can be folded flat to create 166 cu. ft. of space. Seats are configured such that you can just fold one-half of both rows for hauling long objects on one side, and people in the seats on the other. It’s the best of both worlds: haul people, stuff, or people and stuff with just one vehicle.

In the looks department, I’d have to say that the new Wagon is an improvement over the full sized vans we’ve seen on the roads for the past 35 years or more, mostly without a major styling change. As an aside, Ford is introducing a new full-sized van, the Transit, which is also a much better-looking van.

Power for the new Transit Connect Wagon (the more I type that name the more terrible it sounds) comes from the standard 2.5L, 169 hp DOHC I4, or the optional 1.6L 178 hp EcoBoost I4 engine (with an EPA-estimate of 29 hwy mpg), both of which are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. All versions—XL, XLT, and Titanium—come with dual sliding doors and either a rear liftgate or dual-opening rear doors. Also included on all are: a/c (including rear compartment), power windows, AM/FM stereo, and four-way manual front seats.

A Taxi package available for the Wagon, which consists of: six-speaker CD player, compass, 4.2-in. LCD multifunctional display, rear view camera, manual electric a/c, heated mirrors, rear window defroster, and taxi wiring harness. There’s also a Schoolbus Yellow paint color available only on the Taxi models.

I noticed that among the listed options is an ash cup/coin holder. This sounded funny to someone who grew up calling them ash trays, as they used to slide out of the dashboard. It’s also funny because it seems that most people these days fling their butts out the window anyway, so the ash cup/coin holder obviously won’t be used for both simultaneously, if ever.

The new Transit Connect Wagon pricing starts at $24,525 for the five-passenger XL, up through the top-of-the-line seven-passenger Titanium which starts at $29,000.

And remember, it’s a wagon, not a minivan.

more info at: ford.com.

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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