To try to revive its once dependable sales of minivans, Chrysler is making a big change.
The company will retire one of its best-known, most respected brands, the Town & Country, starting in 2017.
In its place will be new Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid minivans that are being revealed 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 most recently used in the mid-2000s for a large family crossover that failed to succeed in terms of both sales and product execution.
Buyers complained that many of the Pacifica models, especially the early ones, were underpowered and 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 has made Chrysler’s minivans industry leaders.
The move comes as Chrysler looks to win back car buyers who have stopped buying minivans in favor of crossover SUVs.
The T&C moniker has been used exclusively for Chrysler’s top-of-the-line luxury minivan since 1990, though it first appeared in the 1940s.
“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, better handling, and a reduction in noise and vibrations. In addition, the new minivan’s cabin is equipped with active noise cancellation, which Chrysler says will create a “vault-like” interior environment.
Power for the Pacifica comes from 287-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engines mated to a nine-speed transmission. The hybrid variant features a 16-kWh battery pack capable of 30 miles of all-electric driving with an estimated fuel economy of 80 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent.
ChryslerThe Pacifica is packed with the tech features such as a 7-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.4-inch touch-screen infotainment display. In addition, the minivan is equipped with adaptive cruise control, parking assist, and forward-collision and lane-departure warnings.
To cap it all off, the Pacifica even offers an onboard 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.