Ford is going after minivan buyers and diesel junkies.For 2019, the Ford Transit Connect surfs two of the most unpopular waves on the market: small, car-based vans and diesel. Ford hopes the updates it made to the Euro-bred model will help lure minivan buyers into showrooms.Tough it's not an all-new vehicle, the Transit Connect adopts a front end that's sharper and more chiseled than before. It echoes the company's latest design language. The van remains available with a short or a long wheelbase.
The cabin gets technology upgrades like an available 6.5-inch screen for the infotainment system and a standard 4G LTE modem that provides Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices. Ford also includes automatic emergency braking. Buyers can pay extra for a wireless phone charger, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist.
The average Transit Connect buyer will be more concerned about space than tech, however. To that end, the long-wheelbase model boasts spacious eating for seven passengers and more interior space behind the front seats than the Chevrolet Tahoe.
The big news under the hood is the arrival of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. Ford hasn't released technical specifications, but it claims the oil-burner can return at least 30 mpg on the highway thanks in part to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn't tested the van yet, however.
Buyers who still shun diesel fuel can order the van with a direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder that also shifts through an eight-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is the only configuration offered regardless of which fuel the four-cylinder burns. Properly equipped, the Transit Connect boasts a 2,000-pound towing capacity.
By the Blue Oval's own admission, the Transit Connect is primarily aimed at Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. Auto-makers talk a lot about millennials but the 50+ demographic holds 63 percent of America's financial assets.
After making its public debut at the Chicago Auto Show, the 2019 Ford Transit Connect will arrive in showrooms this fall. Pricing information will be released closer to its on-sale date. Expect the 1.5-liter turbodiesel engine to find its way to other model lines in the coming months.
Live photos by Brian Williams.