The 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon has made its formal debut at the LA Auto Show, where it showed fresh looks and even more flexibility. The passenger-focused conceptual successor to the existing Transit Connect, it's based on an all-new platform that Ford promises will expand the envelope of contemporary people movers with car-like dynamics, extreme packaging utility -- including seating for either five or seven passengers -- a minimum 1,200-pound payload and over 100 cu ft of cargo space, all while delivering an expected 30+ mpg EPA highway figure.

          Related: See the other new cars unveiled in Los Angeles

Calling it a "game changer," Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields said the 2014 Transit Connect Wagon will be the most fuel-efficient 7-passenger vehicle available and will appeal to young families and "on-the-go adventurers."

Smaller than the 2014 Ford Transit that will be the de facto replacement for the existing E-Series van, the new Transit Connect Wagon will offer the choice of regular and long wheelbase configurations and two familiar, well-proven 4-cylinder engines, both backed by an efficient 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard motivator is Ford's naturally aspirated 2.5-liter while the optional alternative, a turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost, is the designated mileage maker and is projected to arrive on the scene boasting class-leading mpg figures for a 7-passenger vehicle.

Three trim levels -- XL, XLT and Titanium -- allow buyers to custom tailor this new high-efficiency hauler to their own specific tastes. Upholstery choices in the Transit Connect Wagon's well-appointed cabin include vinyl, cloth and leather while its second-row 60/40 bench and third-row 50/50 perch have been designed to fold completely flat to maximize usable stow space. Regardless of passenger configuration, all versions of the new Transit Connect Wagon are fitted with standard front/pelvis/side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to their other active safety features. Highlighting its premium options roster are a full-glass panoramic roof, rear view camera, 6.5-inch touch-screen display with navigation, and SYNC with MyFord Touch. Properly equipped, the new Transit Connect Wagon also will be able to tow up to 2,000 pounds.

The 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon is set to arrive in U.S. showrooms during the fourth quarter of 2013. Pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date, but Ford has said this "modern, family-friendly alternative to oversized minivans" will be "a high-value package with low operating costs."

New Car Spotlight