In about a month there should be full inventories of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan in showrooms and the last of the 2016 Chrysler Town & Country minivans will be sold off, officials said at a regional event in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The 2017 Pacifica, which is on a new platform, is larger, sleeker, and packed with amenities. A plug-in hybrid Pacifica will go on sale later this year as the flagship of the Chrysler van and the only plug-in Fiat Chrysler has.
FCA started selling the Pacifica in late April and was building inventory in May. Early models were lower trim levels before the Windsor, Ontario plant added higher trims. FCA sold 7,202 copies in June, its second month for a total of 10,189 sold through the end of June. Matt McAlear, senior manager of product marketing for the Chrysler brand, said dealers should be fully stocked in the next month or two.
Meanwhile Chrysler is wrapping up the selldown of the discontinued Town & Country minivans, selling 6,000 in June.
The automaker continues to make the Dodge Caravan and sold almost 13,500 in June. FCA will continue to build the Dodge minivan indefinitely alongside the new Pacifica in Windsor. The Dodge offers a lower-priced option for buyers, especially in Canada where affordability is an issue and Dodge minivans have historically been popular. The Pacifica pricing ranges from $29,590 to $43,490; the Caravan starts at $23,590. The hybrid will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax rebate.
The “Dad Brand” ad campaign for the Pacifica featuring comedian and dad Jim Gaffigan has been a success, and this week the Chrysler brand launched a new digital and online “Street Smarts” campaign that focuses on Pacifica features including Stow ‘n Go seats, a built-in vacuum, park assist, hands-free sliding doors, and a panoramic sunroof.
The minivan segment has gone from 1 million in U.S. sales a year in 2000 to 500,000 today, but there are only six nameplates now from 17 during the heyday.
The Pacifica is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 producing 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, and capable of a 0-to-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds in our testing.
The Pacifica Hybrid has a 16 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and an Atkinson cycle version of the 3.6-liter V-6. With two front electric motors, total system output is 260 hp. The 2017 Pacifica plug-in hybrid comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission and should have a range of about 30 miles in EV mode.
The Pacifica dropped 250 pounds, said chief engineer Jessica LaFond, but the hybrid gained 500 pounds including a 375-pound battery.
FCA has also partnered with Google to provide a fleet of hybrid Pacificas to be used for autonomous vehicle testing starting later this year. FCA will design and engineer around 100 minivans uniquely built to accommodate Google’s self-driving technology. Google will integrate a suite of sensors, cameras, radar, laser, lidar, and computers that will essentially become the driver. Engineers from both companies will work out of a facility in southeastern Michigan to prepare and start testing self-driving minivans as well as continued development in Silicon Valley.
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