2014 Ford Transit Connect

Offering an early look at two vehicles that are scheduled to go on sale here late next year, Ford took the wraps off of its newest van families at a reveal in Amsterdam. The 2014 Ford Transit will be the de facto replacement for the automaker's current Ford E-Series van while the 2014 Ford Transit Connect is set to supplant the version now on sale here. Developed under the "One Ford" global product strategy both of these next-gen offerings embody the firm's latest design language and promise to set new benchmarks for efficiency, durability and overall utility. While a number of details on the U.S.-spec versions have yet to be finalized, Ford did release enough information to a give a pretty good idea of what we can expect to see in each.

Both the Ford Transit and the Transit Connect are unit-body designs that will be available in standard and various long-wheelbase configurations with the former also offering several body styles. Providing more total cargo space and modern cockpit treatments with superior creature features, Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, Ford Motor Company notes: "These are the strongest, most capable and most efficient commercial vans we have ever built."

While offering front-, rear- and all-wheel drive configurations elsewhere, all North American Transit models will be rear-drive and fitted with one of two gasoline V6 engines -- including the turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 -- or a "powerful diesel option" backed by an efficiency-enhancing 6-speed automatic transmission. Vehicles for this market will be manufactured in a dedicated facility at Ford's Kansas City assembly plant that's currently home to the F-150 pickup.

While slightly smaller in overall scale, the front-drive Ford Transit Connect and its even more people-focused Transit Connect Wagon variant will be equally capable of performing their respective professional and personal-use tasks. Two highly-efficient 4-cylinder gasoline engines will be available in the Americas: the automaker's 2.5-liter iVCT and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost, both currently found in the new Ford Escape.

Here, too, cog-changing duties will be handled by a standard 6-speed automatic. While some global markets will offer both a 5-passenger and long-wheelbase 7-passenger version of the Transit Connect, Ford has yet to confirm whether the latter will be sold here in America. We do know that the new iteration of both features easy-access sliding rear doors, highly flexible seating configurations and numerous storage areas that will be even more adept at supporting the needs of active lifestyle owners. Production of the new 2014 Ford Transit Connect will take place at the automaker's assembly plant in Valencia, Spain.

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