But more importantly for Ford, the Transit Connect Wagon will be priced like a minivan. The company's current seven-seaters, the Flex wagon and Explorer SUV, cost $30,000 or higher. While Ford isn't releasing a price for the new vehicle yet, Mondragon says it will compete at the lower end of the market with vehicles like the Dodge Grand Caravan, a minivan that starts at $19,995.
Dealers say the vehicle fills a void in Ford's lineup. The company stopped making the Freestar minivan in 2006, citing falling demand as customers swarmed to new crossovers like the Ford Escape. But the decision cost it some customers who needed the utility of a minivan, says Terry Kidd, who owns Kidd Ford Lincoln in Morrison, Tenn.
“We still sell used minivans. It's a very popular body style,” he said.
Ford has been selling a five-passenger version of the Transit Connect van since 2010, but it's designed for commercial use and has few creature comforts. The new version will offer lots of bells and whistles.
U.S. minivan sales peaked at 1.37 million in 2000; by last year, they had fallen to 472,398. About 3 percent of new vehicle buyers are purchasing minivans now, down from 6 percent a decade ago, according to Strategic Vision, a consulting firm.