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  • Ford Transit Connect stretched to create Wagon
  • Seats seven, offers up to 30 mpg
  • Includes many practical features

Ford is rolling out an all-new minivan. Based on the Transit Connect cargo van, the stretched Transit Connect Wagon offers new styling and a frugal engine. It also boasts a host of features aimed at young families.

The Transit Connect Wagon will come in two configurations. Five-passenger models will use a short wheelbase similar to the Transit Connect, while 7-passenger versions are extended. Ford says it expects the majority of buyers to pick the 7-seat model, which is more like a normal minivan.

On the outside, the Transit Connect Wagon's resemblance to the Transit Connect is clear. The van's sides and rear are vertical, giving it a boxy look. Ford's new grille is in front--a change from the standard Transit Connect. But the extended-length van's biggest difference is in back, where the Wagon was clearly stretched to provide room for a third row of seats. All Transit Connect Wagons get dual sliding doors on both sides, while drivers choose between a rear liftgate or two side-hinged doors in back.

Inside, extended models will offer two seats in front, three middle seats and two seats in back. The second- and third-row can be folded flat, allowing buyers to take advantage of a 1,200-lb payload and more than 100 cu ft of cargo space. According to Ford, that's enough to swallow an entire IKEA living room, including a coffee table, love seat and an entertainment center. But it's not as much as some minivan rivals. Both the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey boast 150 cu ft, while the Dodge Grand Caravan offers around 140.

But where the Transit Connect Wagon lags in cargo volume, it shines fuel economy. Ford says the minivan's standard 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine will return 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway. That beats out the Odyssey and Sienna. It even tops the Mazda5, a smaller minivan that only seats six. In fact, should the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agree with Ford's 30-mpg rating, the Transit Connect Wagon would become the most fuel-efficient minivan available. For shoppers who would prefer power to efficiency, Ford says it will also offer a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. That engine is rated to tow around 2,000 pounds.

Ford has not yet released pricing for the Transit Connect Wagon. We expect a higher base price than the Transit Connect cargo van, which starts around $22,000. More details will likely emerge closer to the Wagon's on-sale date, which is scheduled for late next year.

What it means to you: The Ford Transit Connect Wagon gives a new choice to families searching for the perfect minivan.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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