By on June 16, 2011

Let’s face a fact here: as much as Jack Baruth likes the Ford Flex, Ford’s MINI-cum-Woodie-Wagon is a textbook case of what the literature refers to as a sales flop. Recommend one to a friend (particularly a friend of the female persuasion) and chances are they’ll say “even if it is a great car, I just don’t like the looks” and go buy a Traverse. For a while there it seemed like a seven-passenger version of Ford’s European C-Max would help the Blue Oval shore up its three-row options, but with that model canceled in favor of a five-door, hybrid-only strategy, Ford’s back to contemplating updates to the Flex. But Automotive News [sub] Product Editor Rick Kranz has another idea:

My understanding is that the next-gen Transit Connect arrives in a few years, will be assembled in North America and will be a more refined vehicle. The current version comes from Turkey…

While today’s Transit Connect seats five, a seven-passenger version could be a viable option for young families that don’t need the Grand Caravan’s bulk. Some urban families might prefer the nimble size of a seven-passenger compact minivan on the narrow neighborhood streets in the Windy City or the Big Apple.

From a business standpoint, Ford could increase Transit Connect volume by offering two flavors — one for commercial applications and the other for mom, dad and the kids.

The main reason the seven-passenger C-Max was nixed: a near-Caravan price point. A TC-based van could come in at a lower price… but would Americans really choose such a utilitarian vehicle? Meanwhile, would a Transit Connect really look that much more appealing than a Flex? It’s an interesting idea that Ford is probably looking at… but what say you?

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83 Comments on “Are You Ready For: A Transit Connect-Based Minivan?...”


  • avatar
    cfclark

    I’d look at one of these, but then I like weird vehicles.

    I have already seen a “civilian” (non-delivery) red TC being used as a camper, like an oversized Element, or shrunken Sprinter. I sort of always hoped Honda would build an oversized Element, actually.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      That would be cool – since the demise of the VW eurovan small campers / RV’s are not to be seen in NA, sure there are people who are converting Sprinters but even these start around $50K. I’d love a proper (Big) Transit camper or better still VW to make the Microbus concept as shown 10 years ago with a pop top option like the eurovan used to have

      • 0 avatar

        The problem is that Volkswagen would probably charge $45,000 or so if they ever got around to making a new camper van. The Honda Element looks passable after the last redesign, AND there’s a company in San Diego that makes a very nice looking VW-esque pop-top for them. Combine that with all-wheel-drive and Honda reliability, and I figure that it would be a pretty cool little adventure mobile, though the lack of a stove and sink might kind of suck.
        EDIT: I just looked up the Element camper company, they’re called Ursa Minor Vehicles.

  • avatar

    Many people want something more compact and maneuverable than the Flex, but probably also larger than the C-Max / Mazda5 / Orlando. A more space-efficient vehicle the size of the Dodge Journey I reviewed last week would do nicely.

    • 0 avatar
      sir_timbit

      Yes! I have a Santa Fe currently. It’s fine but as I have two kids I’d prefer something the same size with sliding doors…The Mazda 5 is a little too small, and the Sienna and Odyssey shouldn’t even be called minivans anymore. Far too big for my needs.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    You could even add overhead bins for carry-on luggage…

    As utilitarian as it may be, the response to the Flex (and other vehicles like the Element) seems to indicate that most people don’t have much of a taste for these kinds of things (though I think it’s actually pretty cool).

    p.s., They could try and market it as a pseudo Land Rover or something, that might make it more appealing to some…

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      If the go minivan, they should resurrect the “Aerostar” name for carrying the same goofy boxy shape & styling.

      I don’t know why Ford does such a bad job at minivan / CUV styling.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I really wanted to buy a Transit Connect as a family-hauler a few months ago. See, the problem is that most minivans are too civilized for my purposes — they’re all plushy inside, and the dimensions are such that I would want to haul 4′x8′ plywood inside, but it won’t quite fit. All of the trim and stuff would be damaged.

      So, the Transit Connect’s utilitarian and durable interior seemed like a great idea for my DIY habit and for hauling my kid around. But, the cargo area is only 6′ long, so those plywood sheets would have to hang out the back — just like they do in the old Ranger it would be replacing.

      And then I realized that I could just tow a 4′x8′ utility trailer for a car — the only thing I need on the inside of a vehicle 3 seats and room for carrying groceries. On the outside, I need roofracks and a trailer hitch.

      Maybe the C-Max Energi will be a nice fit, if I can put a trailer hitch on it without voiding my warranty. Pretty much anything made by Subaru would work, too. Actually, there are a lot of award-winning tow-cars out that fit my requirements, except that manufacturers recommend against towing with them on this side of the Atlantic — and I don’t want to fight with them about it.

  • avatar

    I think that the amount of white hairs that ended up buying 1st gen Scion xBs show that there is a market for utilitarian vehicles that focus more on clever use of space than rakish good looks.

    As for the Flex, it is too big. The Element is just long in the tooth.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      So long in the tooth that Honda has canceled it.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      The Flex is not a cheap vehicle, there’s plenty of “more stylish” competition at it’s price point. I assume the TC would cost a lot less than a Flex, and at that price point there wouldn’t be many vehicles that offer the room of a TC. Could be a market for it, I’m not sure I’d take the chance if it were up to me.

      Redliner, I haven’t seen anything about the Element being uncanceled. Got a link?

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        As recently as a couple of weekends ago, my wife and I were at a Honda dealership, looking at a new vehicle for her, and heard a Honda sales guy say that this was the last year for the Element. So if that’s changed, it was very recent.

    • 0 avatar
      Advo

      Won’t Ford really have to market Transits towards the youth market so sales take off among the silver-haired buyers? Utilitarian design may not be enough …

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Mazda5 is much better equipped for less money than a Transit Connect. I don’t see how a Transit Connect is less expensive than a better equipped Grand Caravan Express either.

    My wife said in no uncertain terms she was not driving a “delivery vehicle”. It is a very ugly van.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      As much as I love the entire Mazda line up of products, American buyers don’t. the Mazda5 is one of the best kept secrets for sale in the United States – Mazda can’t get any love, and it isn’t because of the silly grinning 3, shoot inventory on the MX-5 is at 140 days!

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @taxman100, it’s function over form. It’s neither ugly nor beautiful in my eyes, just functional.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    We have three kids and want a fleet that consists of a plug in Prius for primary use and a 7 seater high mpg wagon thingy that can seat 4 adults in reasonable comfort but can also handle 2 adults and 5 kids ranging from small to large. Our current choices are awful, despite buyers in other countries having many choices to fit this requirement. We want access to those choices.

  • avatar
    colin42

    Renault Citroen and Fiat have sold this kind of vehicle (i.e. small van as people movers although I’m not sure any of them had more than 7 seats. For reference the 1st episode of the current format top Gear, Clarkson reviewed one and quite liked it!

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Speaking of, I watched my first (and last) episode of Top Gear last night. No offense, but what an over-hyped, over-done, over-the-top waste of time…

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        To each his own, I suppose. Some love Clarkson and the boys, other not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        benzaholic

        @Phil
        If you had caught one of their segments that deals with an older car you particularly like, you probably would have been hooked.

        One of my personal favorites is The W123 Mercedes crossing Africa.

        To be honest, they certainly are not lacking for personality, and theirs can sometimes take a little getting used to. Kind of like Stephen Colbert.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Wow, you must be real fun at parties.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        I’ve watched the sunrise more times than I can count. I didn’t even get married until I was 40, but I have other priorities right now, and Top gear ain’t one of ‘em, at least not based on the episode that I watched…

        @ benzaholic You may be right. The episode I watched some cocky young guy was racing some skiers. Then I had to watch an actor from Lost talk about his Prius and race around the track in a Suzuki, followed by a comparison of Aston Martins. I’m generally not a fan of this in-your-face kind of approach, and the staged audience, heavy editing and exaggerated presentation was just too much for me to take. But I will take you advice and give it another chance.

      • 0 avatar
        M 1

        “over-hyped, over-done, over-the-top waste of time…”

        Oh the irony of such a comment in an otherwise content-free response to the thread.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        Content free. It sounds like an ad for some shows I’ve seen. It’s also much like many of the other one-line comments I see around here (including many of yours, by the way). I did indicate that I was switching gears, as it were, by beginning my post with “Speaking of which,” (as a segway to a shift off-topic), but I guess you missed that.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    As of late, the word from Ford has been that with the new offerings, customers have been willing to size down but spec up – meaning they are getting great selling on the Fiesta and Focus that are loaded with options.

    Now all of as sudden they’re worried about bumping into the base caravan? I really don’t see the customer cross shopping the 2 based on the different size alone – not to mention price.

    We may give GM trouble on a lot of things they do; but Ford certainly outperforms them when it comes to over-thinking their product strategy sometimes.

  • avatar
    polpo

    We seriously considered buying a Transit Connect to use as a minivan because we like idiosyncratic cars. It was hard to find one with glass in the back, it was just a bit too utilitarian on the inside, and strangely enough there’s very little legroom in the 2nd row. Apparently there’s a taxi-spec model with better legroom, but it’s probably impossible for normal people to buy it.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I’m all for choice. I say bring it on! Let the people choose if it succeeds or if it fails (like the Flex). The Flex is nothing but a stationwagon, so old school. I can’t imagine anything more out of touch. I’ve owned stationwagons in the past but that does not mean I want to own another one if SUVs and CUVs abound. If I had to choose between my old 1972 Olds Custom Cruiser stationwagon and our 2008 Highlander Limited AWD, I’d choose the Highlander every time. We had a lot of fun in the Olds’wagon but the Highlander is just way better. I believe there’s a market for a TC-based minivan. Will it sell in sufficient quantity to be a cash cow if offered here, I doubt it. The Mazda5 is a very competent offering in that segment. I don’t think Ford can match it at that price point, even if made in Turkey. Mexico? Maybe.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Flex is sort of a blend between crossover and wagon. It has the ground clearance, road presence, and elevated driving position of a CUV, but the easy step in height, lower center of gravity, and lower cargo load floor of a wagon. 

      It drives great, has tons of interior passenger room, and overall is the ultimate long distance road trip vehicle. 

      I can see where Mays thought there could be a case made for Americans trending toward liking boxy cars with the success of the original xB, but the problem is the xB is a young single persons vehicle, while the Flex is a family vehicle. Unfortunately no matter how practical, comfortable, logical, and functional they may be, women for some daft reason hate station wagons. Look at the Toyota ads with the annoying bratty kid for the Highlander or the ones with the parents trying way too hard to stay ‘cool’ for the Sienna – apparently today’s mothers don’t want to be seen in the traditional mom role or drive a traditional mom vehicle, no matter how much sense it makes. 

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        The Flex is so much cooler and more practical than a Highlander I don’t know how anyone could choose the boring Highlander over a Flex. That little kid in the Highlander commercials is so obnoxious, future non self assured, CUV d-bag owner would be his future. I realize he is a character, but unfortunately he is closer to reality than I care to think about.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Someone forgot to tell the buyers of the XBox that they were supposed to be young and single, the majority of buyers are old and retired.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        The problem with the Flex is that it’s sold and badged as a Ford, not Mini.

        Uncrease the sides, drop the body, and fix the lights, and you get a Mega-sized Mini. That Mega Mini would sell in truly ridiculous numbers, and drive profit like you wouldn’t believe. I bet Mini could get Buick Enclave money for them. Plus, the Dealers would rake stupid profit in options.

        Alas, it’s a Ford wagon that isn’t a wagon. If Ford had the balls, they’d call it a Country Squire, resurrect the Magic Gate, and offer a green “woodie” option. A retro LTD Country Squire would almost certainly outsell the current version.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Nullo, I know what you mean about women not wanting to drive mom-mobiles. I thought, considering that my wife shows and sells real estate, that an AWD Sienna would have been the way to go. It would have been an upgrade from the ’92 Towncar she had been using, and a more compact vehicle when compared to the 4X4 Suburban they also use at the office.

        By 2013 the Highlander will have been completely depreciated so she’ll have to trade it. I don’t see a Transit Connect minivan as a good alternative so we’ll have to see what she chooses next.

        I have suggested that they buy an AWD vehicle strictly for use to show people around rather than using their personal vehicles to pile on the miles ferrying the lookie-loo’s.

        The old Suburban is holding up pretty well but it doesn’t exactly project an image of success either. If it were up to me I would suggest an AWD Sequoia, AWD Armada or AWD Land Cruiser for office use, and maybe an RX350 for her personal ride.

        Do you know if the Flex has been a success for Ford? IOW, did they make a profit on the Flex to offset their R&D costs? A Transit Connect minivan for Ford is always a possibility but it’s hard to make money in that segment.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        SVX pearlie,
        I agree. Ford should have upped the retro on the Flex and either kept the concept Fairlane name or went with Country Squire. They also should have a nostalgic ad campaign reflecting back on the glory days of family vacations and camping trips in the big wagons of yesteryear. I think this would appeal to GenXers and boomers alike.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        @Mensch – I can practically see the sepia-toned ad in my head. It’d be a no-brainer sale to a lot of Boomers and their kids.

        “Bringing back the family vacation”

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      You would choose a 2008 vehicle over one built in 1972? Color me shocked. For your next act why don’t you compare a 1980 Chevette to a 2012 Cruze.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    I think the devil is in the details. I can’t think of a single box on wheels with controversial styling that has sold in massive volumes. The xB 1.0 was a hit, the xB 2.0 is rather maligned. Honda never had a huge sales success with the Element. The only one that comes close to the box on wheels with great sales is the Kia Soul, but hard to call the Soul utilitarian or stodgy in its styling.

    I think the Transit Connect could make a darn nice minivan and just for the environments you outlined. But it is going to need more than chrome rims, a slick interior with very cool storage and tons of headroom to get buyers to snap them up.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    “Recommend one to a friend (particularly a friend of the female persuasion) and chances are they’ll say “even if it is a great car, I just don’t like the looks” and go buy a Traverse. ”

    I can’t think of a more true statement. I recommended one to my wife’s cousin (who’s family outgrew a Grand Cherokee) and she just brought home a Traverse a few days ago.
    When it was my turn, I pushed my wife toward the Flex (we have outgrown a dying V70) she drove it once and declared it too ugly. We now own a Mazda CX-9.

    For the record, I like the Flex, but I like station wagons too.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Both me and the wife are huge station wagon fans but she also hates the Flex…too boxy. So it is clearly not just wagon hating females that don’t like it, must be in the chromosomes. She also hates the Cube, xB, and Soul. I loved it from the first time I saw the concept Fairlane and wished it retained the basket weave door pockets and plywood dash damn the cost and practicality.

      We don’t need a vehicle the size of the Flex anyways. At least she insists on wagons/hatches as much as I do.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      None of our friends have the Flex. We’ve got lots of MDX & Lambdas, along with some oddball Euro haulers. But the Flex just doesn’t work. It’s neither GMC / F-150 butch enough for a guy, nor Traverse / CX-9 stylish enough for a woman. The net effect is like a butch lesbian, or an effeminate man-boy.

      I strongly suspect is that the Flex was re-styled by a Ford committee, with women saying one thing, men saying the exact opposite, and some moron manager forcing the stylists to “do both”. I wonder what the stylists originally came up with before management F’d it up.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Problem is that most buyers in the segment aren’t self assured enough to buy the vehicle they actually need and instead have to compensate or buy an image. I have several co-workers that fit this description to a tee.

  • avatar
    turtletop

    You bet! A minivan built from a durable commercial truck chassis! What’s not to like? It’d be even better if they can offer multiple configurations ranging from basic plumber to leather-lined 7 passenger luxo-capsule, and all points in between. I could see myself in a 4 or 5 passenger version with a nice cargo area in the back.

    I can easily see first gen xB owners eyeing such a beast.

    Ford: Please, DO IT!

  • avatar
    86er

    Yeah, I can see the womenfolk clamouring for one of those.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This car looks like it would be a great vacation destination rental, but I don’t think people who buy minivans are looking to attract attention.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The Flex is a better rental.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Flex should be better at something, seeing as they can be optioned up to $54K, but this looks like more fun. It would also return better mileage in Hawaii and has sliding doors for access to 3rd row seats.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        By the time you get to $54K you’re looking at a hard loaded Flex Titanium EcoBoost AWD with every option on the list checked.

        Show me a 360hp AWD minivan with a compressor driven fridge/freezer in the 2nd row console that has power folding/flipping seats in the 2nd and 3rd rows, individual sunroofs over every seat, HID headlamps, LED tail-lamps, double-thick acoustic laminated glass, and that can parallel park itself.

        You can get a very nice Flex with all of the features most people would want for the mid-$30s.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I’ve never been inside a Transit Connect but it appears to have a lot more headroom than any minivan or CUV. Is this the case?

  • avatar
    GoFaster58

    I’m seriously considering trading my Ranger in for one of these Connect’s. But I may wait for the next generation. I like it.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Other than a much lower price, or everyone in your family is 6’5″ I cannot see why anyone would choose a Transit people mover over a regular minivan. I’d agree with the comment on the Flex, it is every bit as much like the Ford 500, a very good car that nobody wants. In my opinion Ford ought to de-content the Flex and offer it as a fleet vehicle; I think it would make the best Cab since the Fox bodied Crown Vic. Then again, even cabbies have their pride, and the Transit might be a better choice as a cab too.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I find this vehicle fascinating. Kind of like the original 1984 Caravan SWB. This size vehicle is ‘way past due and I don’t think it’ll have a lot of useless humps, lumps and bumps inside to take away good use of space, either.

    It has the unusual looks that make a huge plus in my book, even if I’m not in the market. Now if only those large triangular windows in the front doors would be made to open…

  • avatar
    nickeled&dimed

    If people were really willing to spec up Ford would have had better success with the Flex… it’s about as loaded as they come. I think they’ve got a very long way to go with the TC to make it an appealing small van for civilian population. Interior fit & finish, working on 2nd row comfort, fitting a 3rd row into the flat load floor and making it fuction well folded and upright, not to mention styling. The tall roof looks added on – great for delivery, bad for selling consumers. The whole suspension would probably need a re-visit to adjust for non-commercial necessities like ride and handling.

    Oh, and give me 30 mpg or it’s not even going to be on the table! Other 7-seaters offer mid 20s and much better appeal.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I would be all over this, but Ford will have to watch the price. If they bloat it up too much, you may as well buy a competitor’s van, the most affordable of which is a Kia Sedona.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    The TC is a wonderful starting platform, but its desirability for the public depends on what Ford does with it. In basic commercial form – an echoing metal box for a back, and pulled by a weak slug of a motor – Ford had it priced north of $30k. Ridiculous.

    But with that tall, roomy back it has vast potential… give it optional AWD, make the back long enough to hold my bikes without taking the wheels off, and it would mesh well with my outdoor lifestyle. I’ll enjoy suiting up in the back, instead of sitting on the ground at a freezing trailhead. (I’d prefer a TC with a manual transmission and a small diesel too, but the lack of those wouldn’t be showstoppers.)

    Ford shouldn’t be dissuaded by Honda’s failure with the Element. Honda introduced a vehicle with numerous, significant design flaws, refused to address any of them, and left the Element out there by itself to die. I’d own one now if fat, lazy, stupid Honda had dealt with the Element’s obvious deficiencies.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      “In basic commercial form – an echoing metal box for a back, and pulled by a weak slug of a motor – Ford had it priced north of $30k. Ridiculous.”

      +1. Make it cheaper and give it an engine that improves its acceleration to something above glacial (really, the only thing I’ve seen tested that’s slower is the smart EV) and Ford might have something that would get the practical motoring consumer to sit up and take notice. Slow and expensive (even for a minivan) just doesn’t cut it.

      Unless maybe if they replace the Ford emblems with VWs. Then it would ‘caché’…

  • avatar
    Feds

    There is one of these running around my area with a 3rd row installed. Obviously aftermarket, but it proves ford’s point as:

    1: it’s available.
    2: Someone bought one.

    I ordered a couple for the fleet I manage. Aside from being tall, they are very wide which really helps with the feeling of roominess.

    Let’s say Ford were to offer a lower-roof version (say, where the first cut line is above the door), I’d definitely drive one.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I’ve seen two different white ones in my area. One of them had aftermarket windows installed all-around, the other only partially. Both are driven by older men, one bald, the other with a gray mop for hair. So if you build it, they will come. But will they come in numbers large enough to pay for R&D costs and then some? My guess would be no. Then again, it can always be a loss leader. In sales what matters is that you get sale, not some other guy. By getting the sale you prevent another guy from getting that money.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        They come from Ford with a lot of different glass options. You can have rear glass only, glass on one side, glass on both sides, or extra glass for the rear side panels as well as the regular side panels.

        I doubt there was a ton of R&D sunk into the Transit Connect. It’s brought over pretty much the same as they are sold in Europe, just with a federalized engine and emissions combo. Everything else, from the keys, to the radio, to the bluetooth system to the license plate screws is different from any other NA market Ford product.

        They’re catching on more and more with local businesses here. They’re popular as replacements for companies that might have previously used a Ranger with a cap, or for others who use E-Series vans but can supplement some of their lighter duty routes with the Transit and save on fuel costs.

        Ford has a pretty slick ship-through customization program where you can factory order it with whatever set of trade tools/racks and bins/vinyl graphic-wraps you like, and have it arrive at the dealer ready to go to work with the turn of a key.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        The guy who delivers our mail along this county route is a contractor who uses his family Toyota Sienna to make the deliveries. He mentioned today during a pit stop at my house that he would be interested in a TC-based minivan when he saw me reading the article on my PC. But he would need to have his USPS contract renewed for five years so that he could afford the payments. He mentioned he’d like one with windows all-around and removable seats. He is waiting for his Sienna to die. It’s got nearly 300,000 miles on it and the only thing he needed so far was a new starter-motor assembly ($126.99 + tax, at Autozone). He did the swap himself and saved a bunch in labor costs. If this mailman buys one, we’ll have three in my area, all driven by old guys.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The TC would make an awesome postal vehicle, and save a ton on fuel costs versus the current Grummen LLVs. Ford already makes a RHD version for the UK market, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make one for the USPS.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    The Transit Connect is assembled in Turkey . Pass !

  • avatar
    jconli1

    Didn’t know the Element hadn’t caught on elsewhere. You can’t throw a rock without hitting one in Seattle. They’re almost more ubiquitous than Subarus now.

    I had agonized over the choice between a TC and an Element for weeks. I get my fun on two wheels, so I love very useful, utilitarian vehicles. I needed something that could haul taller cargo than my Volvo 960 or Subaru Impreza could, could comfortably sleep two with gear and still get at least mid-20s gas mileage. A modern-day VW Bus, really.

    Traditional SUVs and CUVs were out due to cargo constraints. I briefly considered both the Flex and first-gen xB, but neither had step through cabin-to-cargo vanlike interior access or comfortable sleeping accomodations.

    Both the Element and TC were promising. Both can fit an old Vespa, or a Leslie speaker, or appliances, or bicycles (upright!) and camping gear, or skis, or snowshoes, etc… often with room for at least a third passenger. Low loading floor, flat cargo area, great city manners and easy to park in tight spots…

    (Ultimately decided on the Element – 5 speed, glass roof, and AWD were extra nice. The outdoor escape vehicle aspect is not just marketing nonsense; the seating design is brilliant and comfortable, and the AWD – while not as nice as Sub’s old 50-50 split, still gets the job done in mud and snow. There are concessions to the flat floor – the fuel tank is somewhat small and mounted low – but all in all it gets the job done.)

    That said, with the last few years of the Element decontented and primped up, I would definitely go for a TC-based minivan in a few years when the family grows and needs a bit more refinement and comfort. Tall short-wheelbase boxes make very good sense all around, and the US is decidedly lacking in good examples.

    (I still think an AWD Astro is a viable alternative in both cases, and cheaper by 90%)

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    While there is no disputing the Flex is a dismal failure, Ford is not “contemplating” giving it a refresh, they are going full steam ahead with one…and it should be out soon. Why Ford would waste their money doing something so stupid…no one will ever know. But the fact remains…a Flex refresh…complete with the terrible MyFord Touchy thingy is coming…fast.

    • 0 avatar

      The Flex is great on paper, it’s just the bile that enters one’s mouth upon seeing it in person that is so unpleasant. A redesign really could be all it needs, but I seriously doubt they will go far enough to make it worthwhile.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        A styling update will help, but the problem is the boxy shape is what leads to the spacious open interior with lots of headroom. The MKT had unique sheetmetal and more curves, but the third row headroom suffers for it.

        The spy photos I’ve seen make it look like a new grill and a new rear bumper as the big exterior changes, but that could have just been a halfway finished development mule. Interior-wise, I just hope they don’t change the seats. The current Flex has hands down the most comfortable automotive seats I’ve ever sat in.

        The rumors are also saying that the 2013 Flex should be ready to ship with MyFord Touch 2.0, or whatever you want to label the complete rewrite of the system that Ford and Microsoft are now in the midst of.

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    Seriously considering getting one for my next ride (Please offer the manual transmission, Ford!)

    What a wonderfully simple and practical vehicle! Which are virtues an over-styled, tech-overloaded world…

    Jack Baruth (blessings and peace be upon him) also loved the Transit Connect…
    Enough to sleep in one.
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/one-thousand-miles-thirteen-guitars-and-one-night-in-a-transit-connect-coda/

    Which makes it awesome, in a VW Vanagon sort of way. Let Westphalia have a crack at a pop-up roof and let the hippies come running!

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    I was seriously considering one of these over the winter. No local dealers had one in stock…not even a base, white commercial one. Order only. No test drive possible. This was in the Bay Area…not exactly a rural location.

    Stick, diesel, etc would be nice, but not a dealbreaker. Fusion motor with 5sp auto would be nice. And I would gladly pay more for a spec above the current XLT premium.

  • avatar
    BOF

    Behold the 8 passenger conversion already being produced by Explorer..

    http://www.conversionvanland.com/new_vans/index.cgi?Key=429&pkey=429&Field=Key&Exact=1&plisting=2&pheader=1&pfooter=1

    Any takers??

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    That sounds like Top Gear USA, not the UK version.

    The US version is not great, but better than most US car shows (not saying much)

    Look up space shuttle reliant robin on you-tube for a good sample of the UK version.

  • avatar
    carcurmudgeon

    I want one.

    My wife and I have #3 on the way, so we’ve been looking at minivans. The Honda and Toyota are too expensive and too difficult to park on city streets. The Mazda 5 is just a tad too small to be useful (ditto the C-Max, which is a bit shorter than the 5). So what I want is something in between, something that does the job and isn’t stuffed silly with features like the big minivans.

    By the way, where I live Toyota Previas are a familiar site. Those things must be really well made! And the small size compared to contemporary minivans makes them perfect for urban parking. Would someone please make a new Previa?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The Previa is better built than the current Sienna. What with dollar exchange rates being awesome and Toyota actually giving a crap about the product, yeah.


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