DEARBORN, Mich. – It looks like a minivan. It has sliding doors like a minivan. So why isnt Ford calling its new seven-seater a minivan?
For the same reason you dont wear mom jeans or listen to Barry Manilow: Its not cool.
The Transit Connect Wagon will debut later this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Its 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, based on Fords 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 Fords 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 its not.
Its anything but a minivan, said David Mondragon, Fords general manager of marketing. In our mind, its 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 Fords target customers: 30- to 42-year-old parents who grew up with minivans and like their utility but dont 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.