DEARBORN, Mich. — It looks like a minivan. It has sliding doors like a minivan. So why isn’t Ford calling its new seven-seater a minivan?


Palmetto Ford Lincoln will hold a fundraiser from 4-8 p.m. Thursday to benefit Trident United Way.The dealership will donate $10, up to $500, to the nonprofit for each person who attends the event.Palmetto Ford Lincoln is at 1625 Savannah Highway.The event will include an opportunity to audition via webcam for an “American Idol VIP” experience that includes an all-expense paid trip for two to Hollywood to attend a live taping of the show’s 12th season.Anyone 18 years and older can preregister at Those who register at the dealership will have the chance to enter a drawing to win a 2013 Ford Fusion. The fundraiser is part of a campaign to introduce consumers to the Fusion.

For the same reason you don’t wear mom jeans or listen to Barry Manilow: It’s not cool.

The Transit Connect Wagon will debut later this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s set to go on sale late next fall.

To the average buyer — or, in fact, to everyone outside of Ford Motor Co. — it will appear that Ford is getting back into the minivan business after a six-year hiatus. The Transit Connect Wagon, which is based on Ford’s Transit Connect commercial van, has the high roof of the van but trades its industrial-looking hood for the tapered nose and trapezoid grille of Ford’s cars. It has sliding doors on both sides and comes in five-seat and seven-seat versions.

The new vehicle will have two four-cylinder engine options, one of which will get 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway. That would make it the most fuel-efficient minivan on the market — if it was a minivan. But Ford insists it’s not.

“It’s anything but a minivan,” said David Mondragon, Ford’s general manager of marketing. “In our mind, it’s a people mover. We think of it as more of a utility, or kind of a hybrid sport utility, than a minivan.”

Mondragon says the m-word is too polarizing and turns off Ford’s target customers: 30- to 42-year-old parents who grew up with minivans and like their utility but don’t want to sacrifice style.

Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst with IHS Global Insight, thinks Ford is worrying too much about focus groups. Cave in and call it a minivan, she says.

“It’s a great-looking vehicle,” she said. “I think they should celebrate the utility of it.”