Chicago 2008: Ford brings the Transit Connect to America

Before the demise of Ford's Windstar/Freestar in late 2006, the company - like its crosstown competitors - offered a cargo van variant of its front wheel drive mini-van for light duty commercial applications. There are many uses where businesses need something smaller and more fuel efficient than the full-size E-Series vans. It just so happens that Ford has what they felt was exactly the right vehicle in their European line-up: the Transit Connect. The Transit Connect is a front-wheel drive van with a profile tall enough to provide plenty of room for carrying lots of different stuff with easy access. At 6'8', however, is still short enough to slide into any garage. The Transit has sliding doors on both sides and rear doors that open up 180o for easy access.

The Transit Connect is available with or without a second row seat. In the two-seater configuration, it has 143 cu.ft of space behind the front row. In Europe, Ford is currently selling about 110,000 units of the Connect annually, all with diesel engines. Unfortunately, the U.S. will again have to make do with a gas engine, in this case a 2.0L four banger which is expected to get EPA numbers of 19 city/24 highway. Those numbers are about 2mpg better than competing cargo vans from Chevrolet and Dodge and a lot better than any Ford E-Series van. At the preview before the show, Product Development VP Derrick Kuzak said that a full hybrid version would likely be too expensive for the market but a start-stop capability was being looked at. Perhaps a 1.4L EcoBoost would be a fine choice. Either way, the new van will offer some help to Ford's truck CAFE numbers to offset a few of the E-Series and F-Series trucks. The Transit Connect will go on sale in mid-2009.

Gallery: Chicago 2008: Ford Transit Connect

(Via AutoblogGreen.)


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