DETROIT — A sexy minivan? Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is preparing to show the new version of the vehicle it pioneered at the North American International Auto Show here Monday that it hopes will put the oxymoron to rest.

Company executives say the new vehicle will look good enough to overcome the stubborn stigma of America’s favorite family hauler as staid, even boring.

“We did not want to lose any of the current customers that we have. We wanted to make the people that sort of compromised (with a crossover) … happier with an image and look that they could be proud of,” says Brandon Faurote, head of design for the Chrysler brand. “So we went after that customer.

Winning back legions of customers who defected to SUVs and crossovers is an audacious goal.

Minivan sales, which exceeded 1.37 million in 2000, have been sliding for years and barely topped 500,000 in 2015. Last year’s minivan sales accounted for just 2.9% of the new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. That’s just a fraction of the segment’s peak in 1995 when minivan sales represented 8.5% of the market, according to Ward’s Auto.

The automaker also wants to gain market share with just one nameplate as it eventually phases out its lower priced Dodge Caravan and migrates to a single Chrysler minivan under Town & Country or some other name.

Faurote argues that it’s still easier to get kids, athletic gear, luggage and groceries in and out of a minivan than a crossover or SUV.

“They compromise on the functionality, and they live with that every day. And some people are happy with that and some of them maybe are not,” Faurote said.

Faurote declined to disclose specifics about the company’s new minivan.

FCA stirred imaginations in 2012 when it quietly parked the Chrysler 700C concept minivan on its stand at the Detroit auto show. After it was discovered by journalists, the silver and black minivan with a retro, modernistic look drew attention because it pushed design boundaries for a minivan.

“The reaction was largely positive (to the 700C). It gave us the feeling from a reach standpoint that we were good with what were doing,” Faurote said.

When Chrysler launched the minivan in 1983 it was quickly embraced by American families because it combined the interior space and flexibility of a van with a car’s fuel efficiency and handling.

The automaker called the minivan “An American Revolution” in its commercials. The minivan was “Shorter than a full-size station wagon, bigger inside, better mileage too,” Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca said in one of the first commercials for the Dodge Caravan.

It solved problems for families, making it easier for parents to haul their kids to sports practice or to the beach for vacation.

But by the 1990s, the vehicle that become synonymous with soccer moms also became decidedly uncool for dads. Those caught driving a minivan were scorned for caving completely to domestic family life.

The automotive industry answered the call with big, burly SUVs with off-road toughness and masculine looks. But those vehicles fell out of favor when gas prices skyrocketed during the recession.

Now a new flock of small and midsize crossovers including the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and midsized crossovers including the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander have become the hottest segment in the U.S. automotive industry because they’re fuel efficient, look good and fit the needs of parents with kids.

In 2015, U.S. sales of the Chrysler Town & Country fell 32% and sales of the Dodge Caravan fell 27%.

Bruce Velisek, director of the Chrysler brand, said much of that decline was caused by a drop in inventory caused by the four months it took for the automaker to retool its  assembly plant in Canada where it is made.

“We tried to stock up (on inventory),” said  Velisek. “But … that length of down time is going to cost you business.”

Even with that sales slump, the automaker still sold  190,000 minivans when sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan’s and Chrysler Town & Country are combined. That’s more than the 137,497 Toyota Siennas, 127,736 Honda Odyssey’s or 11,018 Nissan Quest minivans sold by competitors.

Many of today’s parents are millennials — Americans born between 1980 and the mid-2000s — so expanding the minivan segment depends on appealing to them.

Millions of them grew up in minivans. For some, that means the minivan brings back fond memories. For others, not so much.

“Millennial (interest) consideration for minivans has been fairly flat in recent years, thanks in large part to where millennials are in their lives,” said Akshay Anand, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Many don’t have children or large families yet, and don’t see the need for one.”

But the minivan’s new design, combined with its flexibility, should entice new, young buyers, Velisek said.

“There is, maybe, a stigma associated with owning a minivan, but I think the utility and functionality, and versatility of the vehicle can overcome that,” Velisek said.

Minivan firsts

Introduction of a luxury minivan with the Town & Country model — 1990

Standard driver-side air bag — 1991

Standard passenger-side air bag — 1994

A second, driver-side sliding door — 1996

A power liftgate — 2001

Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system — 2004

Minivan sales in 2015:

Toyota Sienna: 137,497, up 10.4%

Honda Odyssey: 127,736, up 4.1%

Dodge Grand Caravan: 97,141, down -27.6%=

Chrysler Town & Country: 93,848, -32%