Ford says its new vehicle is NOT a minivan

The Transit Connect Wagon will debut later this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It's set to go on sale late next fall.
By DEE-ANN DURBIN Published: November 13, 2012
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It looks like a minivan. It has sliding doors like a minivan. So why isn't Ford calling its new seven-seater a minivan?

For the same reason you don't wear mom jeans or listen to Barry Manilow: It's not cool.

The Transit Connect Wagon will debut later this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It's set to go on sale late next fall.

To the average buyer — or, in fact, to everyone outside of Ford Motor Co. — it will appear that Ford is getting back into the minivan business after a six-year hiatus. The Transit Connect Wagon, which is based on Ford's Transit Connect commercial van, has the high roof of the van but trades its industrial-looking hood for the tapered nose and trapezoid grille of Ford's cars. It has sliding doors on both sides and comes in five-seat and seven-seat versions.

The new vehicle will have two four-cylinder engine options, one of which will get 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway. That would make it the most fuel-efficient minivan on the market — if it was a minivan. But Ford insists it's not.

“It's anything but a minivan,” said David Mondragon, Ford's general manager of marketing. “In our mind, it's a people mover. We think of it as more of a utility, or kind of a hybrid sport utility, than a minivan.”

Mondragon says the m-word is too polarizing and turns off Ford's target customers: 30- to 42-year-old parents who grew up with minivans and like their utility but don't want to sacrifice style. At one point, Ford even considered calling the wagon a “you-tility,” but it turned out another carmaker already had dibs on that one.

“A lot of consumers in this segment are parents who still want their own identity,” Mondragon said. “There's a lot of blandness in the industry, especially in regard to multipassenger vehicles. They want something fresh and uniquely styled.”

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