Once upon a time, America’s highways were dominated by station wagons and minivans. These days, it is all about the “crossover”, though if Ford has its way, minivans could stage a big comeback. Leading the way is the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon, which when it goes on sale will come with an optional EcoBoost engine. Yup, the turbocharged minivan is back.
Back in the late 1980s, Chrysler briefly offered both its Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans with a 2.5 liter turbocharged engine and a five-speed manual transmission. It was a hot ride for a family hauler, one that lasted just two years. Since then, minivan sales have slowed as first SUVs, and then crossovers cut into their margins.
But Ford is poised to bring the minivan back in a big way, using as its base the Ford Transit Connect commercial van. While that doesn’t have an optional EcoBoost engine, the Transit Connect Wagon will be offered with a 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine that should deliver between 160 and 180 horsepower and return over 30 mpg highway. Hell, it can even hold over 100 cubic feet of “stuff” and tow 2,000 pounds when “properly equipped”.
No word yet on whether Ford will offer a hybrid version of its Transit Connect Wagon, which could cannibalize sales from the newly released Ford C-Max Hybrid. Ford also hasn’t restarted work on the Ford Transit Connect EV, which halted production when builder Azure Dynamics went under. However, there are still some companies converting their Transit Connects to CNG power.
With seating for seven and ample cargo space, Ford will also offer the Transit Connect Wagon with a more-boring 2.5 liter engine. There also looks to be other innovative/nifty features, including overhead storage and a large glass roof. Alas, there will be no manual transmission option, just a six-speed automatic, but the turbocharged engine will make owning a minivan much more palpable. If you’re going to be stuck with a minivan, it should at least have a turbocharged engine, shouldn’t it?