Can Chrysler make the minivan cool again?
Here's a shocking thought: Minivans are boring. Groundbreaking idea, right? The minivan segment is far from exciting, but that doesn't mean it isn't necessary. The minivan is a budget-friendly alternative to a full-size SUV that bathes the owner in cool features and effortless usability. The Chrysler Town and Country basically created this market, and now Chrysler's all new Pacifica hopes to change the game yet again. In 2015, the minivan market didn't exhibit much in the way of groundbreaking innovation. For 2016, Chrysler hopes to inject some flavor into this seemingly stale segment.
Just what does Chrysler hope to accomplish with the new Pacifica? Check out this video to see what the automaker is after. It may surprise you with its atypical message.
The Pacifica features Chrysler's potent, but not too special, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 rated at 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a nine-speed automatic. This is the same drivetrain that is found in the 200 sedan on which the Pacifica is based. This powertrain is quite potent in the smaller 200 but should be less than exhilarating when pulling the Pacifica's 4,330 pound bulk around. Unless the SRT division plans to cram a Hellcat motor in this thing, the hybrid powertrain is actually the most exciting option. The hybrid adds a lithium-ion battery that offers 30 miles of electric-only driving and 80 MPGe in the city on the combined cycle. The plug-in hybrid option will compete with the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey hybrids.
Chrysler's highly user friendly UConnect infotainment system now features dual rear touchscreens for the kids. Chrysler has even created a fun "Are We There Yet" app that gives kids a fun animation that ties into the navigation system and lets them know how far you are from their soccer tournament. The Pacifica definitely ticks all of the family safety boxes with available collision warning and parking assist, not to mention other infinitely usable features such as Stow 'N Go Seating and 200 cubic inches of interior volume. Chrysler's biggest obstacle is making the minivan cool in a market increasingly dominated by SUVs and crossovers. Sure, these cars might not be the definition of cool but all are infinitely more awesome than a minivan by default.
By ditching the Town and Country name, Chrysler hopes to usher in a new generation of minivan buyers who may not have painful memories of being chauffeured around in boring minivans of yesteryear. You could spend your money on any number of small, German-built SUVs with sporty handling. However, your kids will be crammed, bored, and justified in finding new ways to ruin the interior of your expensive new status symbol. Instead, you might want to consider the decent-looking Pacifica. Of course it is still a minivan, but is that really such a bad thing anymore?