Chrysler’s making a big change, to try and revive its once dependable sales of minivans.
The company’s going to retire the one of its most respected and well known brands, the Town & Country starting in 2017.
In its place will be new Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid minivans that are making their debuts this week at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.
The Pacifica Hybrid will be the first minivan in the US to offer a hybrid-electric powertrain.
The Pacifica name was last used in the mid-2000s for a large family crossover which failed to succeed both in terms of sales and product execution.
Buyers complained that many of the Pacifica models, especially the early ones, were under powered, overweight with poor reliability and fuel economy.
But the new minivan shares little resemblance with those cars. Instead, it’s aiming to capture the same blend of versatility and durability that have made Chrysler’s minivans industry leaders.
The move comes as Chrysler looks to win back car buyers who’ve stopped buying minivans in favour of crossover SUVs.
The T&C moniker has been used exclusively for Chrysler’s top-of-the-line luxury minivan since 1990, although it first appeared in the 1940s.
Chrysler said the decision to ditch the the older brand was simply a desire to start with something new.
“Sure, it is absolutely risky to change the name, but that’s how confident we are,” Tim Kuniskis, head of Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat, told the Detroit Free Press.“We wanted to change the name so that you think, ‘this is new, this is fresh, I need to check this out and forget the perception that I had about the previous minivan.”
The Pacifica is built on a new platform that Chrysler says will result in an improved ride, handling and a reduction in noise and vibrations. In addition, the new minivan’s cabin is equipped with active noise cancellation which Chrysler claims will create a “vault-like” interior environment.
Power for the the Pacifica comes for a powerful 287 horsepower, 3.6 litre Pentastar V6 engines mated to a nine-speed transmission. While the hybrid variant features a 16 kWh battery pack capable of 30 miles of all-electric driving with and a estimated fuel economy of 80 MPGe.
The Pacifica is packed with the tech features such as 7-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment display. In addition, the minivan is equipped with adaptive cruise control, parking assist along with forward collision and lane departure warning.
To cap it all off, the Pacifica even offers an on board vacuum cleaner.
It’s expected to hit showrooms this spring while the hybrid variant won’t arrive until later this year. Chrysler has not yet released official pricing on the new vans.