The Chrysler Pacific kicked off the North American International Auto Show by receiving the first ever North American Utility of the Year Award. The jury of journalists likely recognized the goodness of the overall package, but no doubt were influenced by the class-exclusive plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The Pacific Hybrid offers an all-electric driving range of 33 miles and delivers an overall EPA rating of 84 MPGe. The overall driving range with combined electric and gas power is a respectable 566 miles. The gas side of the hybrid equation is an upgraded 287 horsepower 3.6L Pentastar V6 mated to a 9-speed automatic. The battery pack locates under the floor, so minivan buyers in love with the stow-and-go seating will have to sacrifice that versatility. Eight passenger seating also is not available on the Hybrid so you’ll have to limit your passenger count to seven. It appears that with the Pacifica Hybrid, the inventors of the modern minivan are not content to give up their stronghold on the market.
It feels weird typing this, but the new Chrysler minivan that debuted today was not a Town & Country, or even a Caravan for that matter. Nope, Chrysler is naming their new family hauler Pacifica, just like the not-particularly-successful Pacifica that once fought the crossover battle for Chrysler way back when it was married to Daimler. Despite that surprising twist, the actual product looks about how we’d expect it to. Chrysler’s 200 sedan lends its look to the front end and the side and rear are fresh enough to get years down the road before demanding a facelift. The big news besides the name was the Plug-in Hybrid model that will travel 30 miles on a charge and return 80 MPGe even after firing up the 3.6 liter V6. You lose the ability to stow the middle row of seats (a Chrysler minivan trademark), but that seems a small price to pay for saving the planet. Pricing wasn’t announced but the new minivans should be at soccer games near you this fall.
When Chrysler introduced the Pacifica in 2004, it was a fantastic family vehicle with only one problem.
Many families couldn’t afford it.
Chrysler tried to make the Pacifica an upscale station wagon with leather seats, fancy technology, and lots of luxurious features to guarantee people knew that Chrysler was now owned by Mercedes. It was a great vehicle — still is — but its starting price over $30,000 was more than many families could stomach. Read more…
Another Alternative For The “Ain’t Gonna Drive A Minivan” Club
They’re out there. They’re all around us. They are the people who will not drive a minivan simply because—it’s a minivan. Focus a bright light on them in a dark room and they’ll squirm, but admit they like the higher seating, the ample room for kids and cargo, and the comfortable ride. And they will also let you know, in no uncertain terms, they’d rather walk than arrive in the most un-cool of vehicles. It is because of people like this, and some very successful marketing, that SUVs have replaced the minivan as America’s portable people hauler of choice. Yes, you heard right. The traditional minivan segment is no longer growing by leaps and bounds. This is particularly true of the domestic vans, which face ever-stronger competition from the likes of Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. Despite a slight increase in sales so far this year, minivan sales peaked in 2000. So the segment isn’t dead by any means, but at best, future sales graphs will likely resemble a plateau, at worst, the backside of Mt. Everest. Read more…