Is the solution to boosting minivan sales making the auto industry’s ultimate people mover more like a utility vehicle?
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is taking this route with its latest iteration of the Chrysler Pacifica.
The 2021 Pacifica offers a new Pinnacle model, a “premium people mover that offers a modern living room on wheels loaded with luxury features and content,” but also all-wheel drive.
FCA will show the updated Pacifica at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, which opens to the public Saturday.
FCA hopes its new-look minivan will give a jolt to Pacifica sales, which fell 17% to 97,705 in 2019 compared with the previous year.
Tim Kuniskis, global head of Alfa Romeo and FCA’s passenger car brands in North America, highlighted what FCA understands about the minivan segment, which Chrysler pioneered 37 years ago.
“We have a pretty good idea what those customers are looking for,” he said last month at FCA’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “We have a nice tool chest of all kinds of content to help make their lives easier.”
FCA hopes to redirect customers considering a utility vehicle to a Chrysler minivan instead.
All-wheel drive is key.
“Capability is one thing (customers have) been asking us for forever, so we’re going to give them that,” Kuniskis said.
FCA notes that the 2021 Pacifica will be the only vehicle with all-wheel drive and Stow ‘n Go seating together. All-wheel drive will be available only in gas, not hybrid, versions, but it will also be available on the 2020 Pacifica Launch Edition, which will be out this year.
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The 2021 Pacifica will come in four models — Touring, Touring L, Limited and Pinnacle— and the gas engine is a Pentastar V-6 mated to a nine-speed automatic, which provides 287 horsepower and 262-pound feet of torque. The Pacifica Hybrid provides the equivalent of more than 80 miles per gallon in electric-only mode as well as “an all-electric range of more than 30 miles and a total range of more than 500 miles,” according to FCA.
Orders for the 2021 Pacifica will begin in the third quarter of this year with vehicles in showrooms in the fourth quarter. The 2020 Pacifica Launch Edition will open for dealer orders in the second quarter of the year and should arrive in showrooms late in the quarter, FCA said.
Pricing has not been released.
The 2021 Pacifica boasts 116 standard and available safety and security features, including LED lights and pedestrian automatic emergency braking.
The company says the Pacifica features a “more ‘heroic’ 3D diamond-style grille, which is accented with painted gloss black upper grille textures and a new bright chrome grille surround,” among other additions, including an LED tail lamp across the entire back of the minivan, the company notes.
This vehicle will also feature FCA’s new fifth-generation infotainment system, Uconnect 5, with a 10.1-inch touchscreen, lots of screen customization and in-vehicle Amazon Alexa.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: [email protected] or (313) 223-4272. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.