Vans

New Ford Transit Connect focuses on safety, versatility, tech

The vans hit Europe in mid-2018, and the US is likely to follow some time after that.

Ford

You might not see them very often -- or think much of them when you do -- but vans are a hugely important part of global business. Ford's latest version of the compact Transit Connect builds upon years of success with some solid updates.

The new Transit Connect, which slots beneath the full-size Transit in Ford's lineup, will go on sale in Europe in mid-2018.

It's a van -- changes in this segment are often evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.

Ford

In that market, two engines will be on offer -- a 1.5-liter diesel I4, and a diminutive 1.0-liter I3. A six-speed manual is standard, but the diesel also offers an eight-speed automatic. The three-banger picks up some notable new engine tech in the Transit Connect, including cylinder deactivation, which will cut fuel to one of the cylinders under light load.

Aesthetically, the changes are on the minor side. A new set of headlights and a more pronounced front grille lets the Transit Connect blend in alongside Ford's latest passenger cars. The interior sports a revised instrument panel with a 6-inch Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system. Safety systems include automatic emergency braking and active parking assist for both perpendicular and parallel spaces.

Fleet operators even have something to look forward to with the new Transit Connect. Ford has extended the service interval for both gas and diesel variants to 25,000 miles, which means less dealership downtime and boosted productivity.

Ford hasn't yet said anything about the new Transit Connect with regards to the US market, but I believe it's all but inevitable. While Europe may get the first crack at it, the Transit Connect is a global vehicle, and thus any changes that apply to Europe are pretty much guaranteed to affect other markets, too, including our own. It's just a matter of when Ford will talk about it, and whether or not the engines will change between here and there.