Typically, the Paris Motor Show has little in common with commercial vehicle buyers in North America, but that may change this year. Ford is showing off a number of new products, including a new full-size Transit van and compact Transit Connect van. Both models will ultimately be added to the automaker’s North American truck lineup.
We’ve heard about Ford’s plan to build and sell full-size Transit vans in North America for some time, but this is our first official look at the finished product. Ford notes this particular van is a European-spec model, but the Americanized model should be a near carbon copy of what you see here.
The new Transit should not be confused with the Transit Custom, which debuted earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show. Although both vans are larger than the compact Transit Connect, the Transit trumps the Transit Custom in terms of payload size, powertrain configurations, and available body styles.
Aesthetically, the new Transit appears to be a blend of new and old – the upright, cab-forward form is traditional Transit (or any European cargo van, for that matter), but the angled headlamps, trapezoidal grille, and sculpted body sides echo those of the smaller Transit Custom. The large, one-piece grille, along with the thick black bumper and chunky body-side molding, give the Transit some added visual bulk.
Abroad, virtually all Transits will be fitted with a 2.2-liter turbo-diesel I-4 and a six-speed manual transmission. As is the case with the current Transit, buyers will be able to choose from front-, rear, or all-wheel-drive forms. In North America, Ford promises a “tailored range” of several gasoline options, including the 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6. North American Transits will also be available with a new diesel offering that has yet to be revealed in detail. Regardless of the engine selected, North American Transit models will feature a six-speed automatic transmission, and be offered only in rear-wheel-drive form.
European models will be sold in a multitude of body styles, including a cargo van, passenger van, and a chassis cab. Ford will offer three wheelbases and roof heights for the Transit van models, though it’s yet to specify which ones will be offered in our market. We’d expect at least one high-roof model to cross the pond in order to counter similar features offered by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Nissan NV2500 and 3500.
U.S.-spec Transits will be built within Ford’s Kansas City, Missouri factory, which presently assembles F-150 trucks. Production should start in 2013, but Ford notes there will be a period of time – likely through the 2014 model year – where it will build and sell both E-Series and Transit models simultaneously.
2014 Ford Transit Connect
As the Transit Connect was first brought stateside in 2010, it may seem a little surprising that Ford’s completely overhauling the vanlet so soon. In actuality, the current vanlet is nearly 10 years old, and still rides upon the previous-generation Focus’ platform. Needless to say, an update is more than welcome – and what Ford has in store for the Transit Connect is more than a mere update.
Officials tell us the new Transit Connect – along with its passenger-hauling version, known in Europe as the Tourneo Connect – is an all-new vehicle, and rides on an all-new platform, likely an evolution of the C-segment architecture used to underpin the current global Focus and Escape model ranges.
That C-segment DNA seems to have also influenced the Transit Connect’s appearance. The front clip is handsomely sculpted; apart from a new hexagonal lower grille opening, it bears a striking resemblance to the Escape’s front fascia. Slab sides are no more, as flared fenders and a prominent chiseled beltline help break up sheetmetal surfaces aft of the A-pillars. Tourneo Connect models receive an extra dash of flash, thanks to a chromed grille surround, aluminum wheels, and bright roof rail accents. Ford plans on offering both short- and long-wheelbase variants once again, but it’s likely that only the longer variant will be sold here.
European Transit Connect models can be ordered with a wide variety of engines, including a 1.6-liter turbo-diesel I-4, a 1.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost gasoline I-4, and the same 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost used in the Focus and Fiesta. The 1.6 and 1.0-liter engines will be offered with five- and six-speed manual transmissions, but the 1.6-liter is available only with a six-speed automatic.
In North America, Ford’s limiting engine choices to two: the 1.6-liter EcoBoost I-4, and a 2.5-liter I-4 that will likely serve as a base engine. Assuming the 2.5-liter is similar to that used in the 2013 Fusion, it could offer as much as 170 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. Likewise, if the 1.6-liter EcoBoost is tuned like that used in the 2013 Escape, it could yield 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Both engines will be paired only with six-speed automatics in our market.
Ford also teased a fourth member of its Transit family: the Transit (and Tourneo) Courier. This super-small, “micro-cargo” vehicle is built off the same B-segment architecture as the Fiesta and B-Max, and likely shares a number of its engine offerings with those two models. Few details are presently available, but a Ford representative tells us the model will not be sold in North America.
Expect further information and additional details on the new Transit, Transit Connect, and Transit Courier to come to light by the close of 2012.