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Big new job for small van

Ford has unveiled a new Taxi variant of its soon-to-arrive 2019 Transit Connect.

On Thursday, Ford introduced a Taxi model of the new 2019 Transit Connect, which the automaker showed off in March at the Work Truck Show. The OEM is targeting the fuel-efficient people-hauling niche for the light but credibly credentialed van, thanks in part to its latest—and class-exclusive—powerplant option.

That would be the 1.5L EcoBlue diesel; no other automaker currently offers a diesel engine for a compact commercial van in its U.S. lineup. Ford expects the Transit Connect Taxi will be capable of "at least" 30 highway mpg if equipped with that engine, for which Ford engineers told Fleet Owner the target output is 120 hp. and 200 lbs.-ft. of torque, with 90-95% of peak torque available at 1500 rpm and max torque available from 1,750-2,750 rpm.

That engine will be paired up with a new 8-speed automatic. The Transit Connect Taxi will seat up to five passengers, and Ford said the goal was to give it "a roomy, flexible interior well-suited for livery service." The van has a recessed second-row seat with more than 60 cu. ft. of cargo volume behind it—solid space for stowing luggage and bags.

Standard dual sliding side doors for the model are designed to give riders a wide entrance and exit, and the van's low floor—thanks in part to its front-wheel-drive configuration and compact size—makes for an easier step up or down when they get in or out.

View photos of the 2019 Transit Connect Taxi

As may be suitable, Transit Connect Taxi is available with "School Bus Yellow" finish, although photos Ford released showed the van wearing white with checkers. The van will also come with a taxi upfit wiring harness, first-row side curtain airbags, optional roof access hole for taxi signage, and a reverse sensing system, according to the OEM.

Additionally, the Transit Connect Taxi will be able to be made wheelchair accessible, the OEM noted, through Ford's Qualified Vehicle Modifier program. That upfit includes a ramp that can double as a cargo deck for extra storage. 

The 2019 Transit Connect Taxi is available for order now, and the 1.5L diesel will be available to order on 2019 Transit Connect "soon," Ford said. The new Transit Connect, including the Taxi model, is slated to go on sale by the end of the year.


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