Preview: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van car previews ford
Preview: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van car previews ford
2014 Ford Transit Connect Van. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Mike Schlee

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2014 Ford Transit Connect Van

In 2009, North America finally received the compact Ford Transit Connect cargo van. At that time, many factors came into play to bring this little darling of the European commercial industry to our shores. The recession, rising fuel prices, budget-conscious businesses and the success of the direct-from-Europe full-size Sprinter van all helped convince Ford it was time to sell this high-roof hauler to Canadians and Americans.

Even though this was a mere three and half years ago, it is time for a refresh. The Transit Connect actually dates back to 2002 and was based on the 2000 Focus platform. So, for 2014 an all-new second generation Transit Connect is ready to report for duty. Once again, it will be based on Ford’s C-segment platform that currently underpins the new Focus, new Escape and recently introduced C-Max; it also shares more than a few styling cues with these siblings.

Unlike the old one-size-fits-all Transit Connect, the new vehicle will be available in two wheelbase lengths with two engine choices. The shorter model measures in with a 2,662-mm wheelbase and is 4,417 mm long. This will be the basis for a cargo van and five-passenger wagon. The longer Transit Connect will measure in with a 3,063-mm wheelbase and a 4,818 mm overall length. It will be the basis of a cargo van, seven-passenger wagon, and taxi version of the small truck.

One obvious feature missing on the new Transit Connect is the high roof of the old model. The roof has been dropped by 127 mm for two reasons. One was due to customers complaining it wouldn’t fit in garages or low-height restricted areas. The other reason for the height reduction is that taxi companies couldn’t put their signage on the roof of the Transit Connect taxis as it further limited access to height-restricted areas and people couldn’t even see the signs. Curiously, the new shorter wheelbase vehicle is actually 15 mm taller than its long-wheelbase counterpart.

Preview: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van car previews ford Preview: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van car previews ford
2014 Ford Transit Connect Van. Click image to enlarge

Despite this drop in roof height, Ford has kept the overall cargo capacity virtually the same by stretching the length of the Transit Connect. Long wheelbase trucks can hold 3,681 L of cargo compared to the previous Transit Connect that held 3,670 L of gear; short wheelbase versions can hold 2,832 L. Taxi prepared editions will remove the third row of the Transit Connect Wagon, and then move the second row back to allow better ingress and egress for passengers as well as the installation of a partition for the driver.

Preview: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van car previews ford
2014 Ford Transit Connect Van. Click image to enlarge

Being that this is a commercial vehicle, Ford paid close attention to the details when designing the truck. The headlights are mounted high and recessed and the hood is kept short. These subtle design touches will please fleet owners as low speed impacts, like bumping into a loading dock, will be less costly due to the important (read: expensive) bits of the truck remaining untouched. There are also large, unpainted plastic moldings that serve a similar purpose on the sides of the compact van.

To remain competitive against a growing list of competitors, the 2014 Transit Connect will be available with optional equipment not found on the older model. Inside, buyers can opt for MyFord Touch, an electronic windshield defroster called ‘Quick Clear’, Ford’s MyKey system and Crew Chief. The latter is a system that allows fleet operators to track their trucks in real time. There will also be a choice in wheels between 215/55R16 tires or 215/50R17 tires, and like the old model, cargo versions can be configured to seat two or five people.

Preview: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van car previews ford
2014 Ford Transit Connect Van. Click image to enlarge

But the biggest change for the new Transit Connect will come under the hood. Gone is the old anemic 2.0L engine that sent power through a four-speed automatic. Replacing this combination is a choice of two engines, a 2.5L inline-four-cylinder and a 1.6L turbocharged Ecoboost inline-four, both paired up to a six-speed automatic transmission. There is no official word on power ratings at this time, but Ford assures us both will make more power than the outgoing powertrain. There is also the potential for one of the small diesel engines found in other markets to eventually make its way to North America, but as of now there are no definite plans.

The Transit Connect will remain exclusively front-wheel drive, but now has an official tow rating in North America. When equipped with the 2.5L engine, it will be able to tow 907 kg (2,000 lb.), while the 1.6L Ecoboost model can handle up to of 862 kg (1,900 lb.). All Transit Connects will be built in Valencia, Spain and should begin to appear at a showroom near you in the late fall of 2013.

Ford has done a good job of listening to its customers and reworking the new Transit Connect from the ground up with features they want. Not only that, but by offering engine, wheelbase, and passenger configuration choices, the new Transit Connect should build on the success of the old model.

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