Ford Unveils Minivan Lite

7-passenger 'people mover' on its way
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2009 5:45 PM CDT
The all-new, 7-passenger Ford Grand C-MAX.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Ford has announced its reentry into the please-don't-call-it-a-minivan category, USA Today reports. The carmaker has been out of the minivan business since 2007, and it plans to stay that way—at least in name—with the Grand C-Max, scheduled to be on US roads in two years. Built on a stretched version of Ford’s international small-car platform, the C-Max has sliding doors and 3 rows of seats. But don’t call it the m-word.

“Minivans have a stigma,” says an exec who prefers the term “people mover.” “We tried to provide that functionality but with an aspirational design.” Cash-poor Americans seem to be migrating toward the once-derided small car—the subcompact segment has more than tripled since 2004—but a stylish minivan-lite could be a hard sell. The only similar vehicle is the Mazda 5, which hasn’t done so well. “In that respect, they're going to be trying the waters out,” says an industry analyst.