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Ford clearly wants you to know that the new 7 Passenger Transit Connect Wagon is the most fuel efficient in America. At 30mpg they mentioned this about 20 times during the presentations, which car companies have a habit of doing when they want to impress upon reporters a message they really want delivered to the general public.

But will getting 2 MPG better than a Honda Odyssey help sell this mini-van about which one Ford exec said, “…has a unique look, unlike anything else on the road today”?

Ford’s PR Team is Better Than Most

Right now I’m watching Ford’s live stream of the release of their new Transit Connect Wagon. So right off the bat I’m happy to cover the event because Ford really gets “social”. At least better than any other car company around. They clearly recognize the role of online media, and have experienced the valuable demographics of online eyeballs.

Their execs were rough in their delivery, which just goes to show they aren’t accustomed to reading from teleprompters. Luckily, I don’t give a damn about that – I want them to focus on building great cars.

2014 Transit Connect Overview

The “unique” looks of the Transit are certainly not something I’d call attractive. Utilitarian, absolutely! It’s not a bad looking vehicle, but compared to say the new Ford Fusion… let’s just say the Transit isn’t going to turn any heads.

But that’s not why they built the Transit. They have been marketing this vehicle towards businesses for a while now. In fact, that 2013 on the Ford Transit page specifically reads, “Built specifically for any business.”

But Ford is now repurposing this little workhorse van into a people mover and marketing it to families. That’s certainly not anything unusual. We’ve seen car companies do that for decades. Ford Econostar vans can be had in variants ranging from phone company cargo vans to luxury exec movers.

2014 Transit Connect Features

So, what is this little fuel-efficient van all about? Well, imagine for a minute that you take the Ford Escape (which shares the same platform) with all of its gadgets and goodies, and put it in a roomier package designed to hold more people. That’s the Transit Connect!

  • MyKey
  • EasyFuel
  • MyTouch
  • Backup Camera

Those are a bunch of Ford specific names for electronic packages that give you touch-screens, navigation, smart phone integration, and more.

The Transit Connect also comes in two wheelbase variants. A normal 5 passenger sized version, and a stretched wheelbase 7 passenger van. Since Transit shares the Escape platform, Ford claims a tighter turning radius than Honda Accord. I’m sure that doesn’t apply for the 7 passenger version though.

There will be two engine choices, both 4 cylinders combined with a 6 speed transmission, one of them being an EcoBoost variant. The promised 30 MPG highway will undoubtably be delivered by the non-turbo version, and my guess is you’ll pay about a 5 MPG cost for the peppier Ecoboost if moving people rapidly is your style.

We’ll keep you up to speed when we finally get our hands on one for testing. Until then, here’s a little more information from Ford.

2014 Transit Connect Wagon Photos

Ford’s 2014 Transit Connect Wagon Press Release

DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 13, 2012 – Ford, the most fuel-efficient full-line manufacturer, introduces the first seven-passenger people mover expected to break the 30 mpg-plus highway barrier with the all-new Transit Connect Wagon, which drives like a car, has the flexibility of a utility and can haul the payload of a full-size pickup.

“Transit Connect Wagon gives young families and people on the go the fun-to-drive and efficient vehicle they’ve been looking for,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s President of The Americas. “It’s an all-new, smaller seven-seater that has better mileage than larger vans and creates a segment of its own. Customers also will love the unique combination of style, adaptability and affordability this wagon brings.”

Transit Connect Wagon is offered in two wheelbase lengths, in five- and seven-passenger configurations, and in XL, XLT and Titanium series levels. No other wagon in the market today offers the convenience of fold-flat seating, at least a 1,200-pound payload and more than 100 cubic feet of cargo space.

When properly equipped, this versatile wagon is approved to tow up to 2,000 pounds, 500 pounds more than a four-cylinder Toyota Highlander SUV.

Have it your way Transit Connect Wagon offers customers a choice between two fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines – a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost® that is estimated to deliver 30 mpg-plus on the highway. This powertrain makes Transit Connect Wagon the gas mileage leader among seven-passenger vehicles.

Both engines come mated to a convenient six-speed automatic transmission, geared for around-town responsiveness and low-rpm highway cruising.

Transit Connect Wagon is available in a wide variety of configurations and series levels, offering unexpected features in a high-value package with low operating costs.

This stylish, contemporary design is offered in two wheelbase lengths, a choice of five- or seven-passenger seating arrangements, and offers meaningful options like a full-glass panoramic roof, rear view camera, 6.5-inch touch screen display with navigation, and SYNC® with MyFord Touch® – Ford’s highly acclaimed voice-activated communications and entertainment system.

Transit Connect Wagon’s global design includes premium cues throughout such as available full body-color exterior accents with jewel-like chrome trim and high-gloss interior trim pieces. A range of seating surfaces, from luxurious leather, comfortable cloth and heavy-duty vinyl, is available to suit the specific needs of a wide variety of potential customers.

Commercial-strength DNA in a family versatility vehicle Transit Connect Wagon’s work-hard/play-hard nature is reflected in cargo-carrying capacity and room for up to seven comfortably seated passengers, wrapped in a high-strength body engineered to rigorous global commercial vehicle durability standards.

The all-new Transit Connect Wagon builds on the foundation of reliability and durability established by the current Transit Connect compact van. Introduced in North America in 2009, Transit Connect has become the must-have vehicle for small business proprietors, thanks to its unmatched combination of payload and cargo capacities, adaptability, fuel efficiency, maneuverability and overall ease of driving.

Transit Connect was recognized as an innovative “white space” vehicle – literally carving out a new category in the market – by the automotive industry press corps when it was named North American Truck of the Year in January 2010 at the North American International Auto Show.

Now selling at a pace of 35,000 units per year, Transit Connect has become a favorite of small businesses, corporate fleets, taxi operators and a few individualistic owners who find its combination of a car-like ride and the cargo capacity of a van just right for their personal use.

“The all-new Transit Connect Wagon will expand the personal-use audience for this versatile nameplate by offering up to seven-passenger capacity across three rows of seating in a fully trimmed interior,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford vice president of Global Engineering, Global Product Development. “It has an extensive selection of comfort, convenience and connectivity options, and a full complement of safety features – making it a modern, family-friendly alternative to oversized minivans.”

All Transit Connect Wagon models feature first-row frontal, pelvis and side airbags, with first-, second- and third-row side curtain airbags in long-wheelbase models. Short-wheelbase versions get first- and second-row side curtain airbags.

Ford’s award-winning MyKey® programmable ignition key enables restricting maximum vehicle speed and audio system volume, bringing additional peace of mind to both parents and fleet administrators alike.

Transit Connect Wagon even offers a child observation mirror so parents can keep track of children safely belted in second- and third-row seats.

Infinite adaptability Inside, the Transit Connect Wagon package is a rolling showcase for adaptability in hauling both people and cargo.

From its 60/40 three-passenger second-row bench seat through fold-flat second- and third-row seating with third-row independent fore-and-aft sliding capability, Transit Connect Wagon quickly adapts to accommodate multiple combinations of people and cargo.

Also available is an electric windshield defroster, making short work of icy windshields in wintry conditions and when parking Transit Connect Wagon on the street.

The versatile Transit Connect Wagon offers far better fuel efficiency than traditional minivans, compact-car-like maneuverability and handling, combined with unprecedented payload and cargo capabilities.

Look for Transit Connect Wagon to appear in North American Ford dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2013. Consumers can get more information and learn more about the Transit Connect Wagon at http://ford.com/transitconnectwagon

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John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter and Google+.