It ain’t pretty, but the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon may be able to fill a void in the passenger-car marketplace with its spacious interior, room for seven and promising 30-plus mpg estimates with an optional engine. Most widely known as a commercial workhorse van, this second-generation people-carrying Transit Connect Wagon is far from just a commercial van with extra seating.
Inside, the cabin feels like a modern Ford passenger vehicle, with the looks and features you’d expect to find in a family hauler. There’s overhead storage up front and available overhead storage in the rear rows, flat-folding second and third rows in seven-passenger models, and a liftgate – dual side-hinged cargo doors are available. MyFord Touch and voice-activated Sync are available features, as well as a panoramic roof, leather seating and heated seats.
The wagon’s utilitarian shape — essentially a box — creates up to 100 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded. The squared-off shape makes sitting in the second and third rows a breeze, with huge amounts of headroom that a sleeker vehicle lacks, like the Mazda5 small van. My 6-foot-tall frame is comfortable in the second and third rows; the seatbacks are far from confining, and headroom is abundant. I could see the third row getting tight with an extra person sitting next to me, however. There’s room for three passengers in the second row and two in the third on long-wheelbase passenger wagons.
A short-wheelbase passenger version has room for five occupants, and the second row shares its roomy dimensions with the higher-occupancy long-wheelbase Connect.
Using the folding seats in the seven-passenger model proved more of a pain. It’s a multiple-strap-pulling process that Ford seems to be fond of but we’ve found frustrating in the Flex crossover. There are straps all over the seats to release one section, tumble another, recline and hide the seatbacks. Other people-movers, like minivans and the Mazda5, simplify the process with fewer steps for configuring the seats.
Most likely, owners wouldn’t be folding these seats as often. The resulting flat floor looks like a commercial vehicle much more than a minivan.
That’s the confusing part. The Transit Connect Wagon has all the traits of other people-haulers, but it’s unclear if shoppers will gravitate to its utilitarian looks and commercial-grade cargo area.