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52 Cars in 52 Weeks part 25: 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

For years I’ve been a vociferous advocate of minivans.  They’ve got a frumpy, uncool reputation, but once upon a time station wagons and the Volkswagen Microbus did, also.  The appeal is pretty much the same:  a minivan is a vehicle that’s an active and worthwhile accessory to all manner of interesting lifestyles.

There’s just that PR problem.  Minivans aren’t cool.  Even the Ford Transit Connect Wagon is aware of this fact, and in adapting its small commercial van for private use Ford has created a vehicle that’s a minivan in all but name.   The name (and hashtag) “unminivan” is tossed around a lot. Continue reading

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52 Cars in 52 Weeks part 24: 2014 Volkswagen Passat

Every so often it’s cool to take a look at one of the alternative family sedans. The market’s defined by Camry/Accord/Malibu/Fusion these days, but there’s some interest to be found in the outliers like Volkswagen’s Passat as well.

“Outlier” is something of a misnomer, considering that VW sells about 100,000 of these per year. Still, that slice of the market is dwarfed by the Toyota Camry, which outsells it almost four to one, and the Passat barely breaks the top ten in terms of midsize sedan sales in spite of being a very good car. So what’s the story here, then? Continue reading