The upcoming Ford Transit Connect is getting a facelift.
A prototype of the next-generation compact van was spotted by spy photographers during testing in Dearborn, Mich., with only minimal camouflage on its front end. Previous prototypes have been heavily disguised.
The redesigned Transit Connect can be seen sporting a sleek fascia with narrowed headlights reminiscent of the Ford Focus sedan and a grille resembling the Ecoboost compact crossover. The update will likely bring the Transit Connect more in line with the design language of the rest of the Ford portfolio.
The next-generation Transit Connect is expected to debut soon as a 2019 model. Engine options are unclear, but the van could feature a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The current Transit Connect offers a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 169 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, or a turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Both are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Transit Connect is the top-selling vehicle in its segment, with more than 23,000 units sold through the first eight months of 2017. Though sales have decreased by 25.1 percent compared to the same period in 2016, the Transit Connect still holds a 42 percent market share among compact vans.
The Nissan NV200 is second in sales with 12,842 so far in 2017, while the Ram ProMaster City has sold 10,916 vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz Metris has 4,371 sales and the Chevrolet City Express has sold 3,888 vehicles.
Sales across the compact vans segment have fallen by 15.1 percent compared with the same period last year.
Ford may be hoping a friendlier face helps the Transit Connect appeal to consumers buying the van for personal use, rather than commercial work. The rise of “van life” culture has led to an increase in owners converting their vehicles into full-time homes, or weekend getaways for surfing and skiing.