By on February 18, 2014

2011_Chrysler_Town_&_Country_--_03-24-2011 (2)

Much of the news surrounding the next-generation Chrysler minivans has involved the location of their assembly, with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne looking to secure government funds for the new vans. The latest report from Automotive News manages to dredge up some product details on the vans themselves.

Judging by the AN report, the new minivans will employ Chrysler mainstays like the 9-speed automatic transmission, the UConnect infotainment system and a revised Stow ‘N Go seating system. For the first time in roughly a decade, all-wheel drive will return, presumably the same system shared with the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee.

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47 Comments on “Next-Gen Chrysler Minivans To Get 9-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive...”

  • avatar

    Where do I sign for an AWD version???

    • 0 avatar

      At your friendly Toyota Dealer for a Sienna XLE AWD, $48K.

      • 0 avatar

        According to Toyota’s web site, MSRP on the LE is not quite $34k. They make it hard to find the AWD models. AWD is called an engine choice on the LE and XLE.

        • 0 avatar

          Try to find one for that price. We checked dealers all over Northern NM, Southern CO and Eastern OK and found one in Santa Fe, NM.

          AWD minivans are pretty scarce, even in ski-country.

          It matters not, my daughter’s got her AWD Sienna now and can go skiing in the mountains whenever she likes with her friends, instead of having to hitch a ride with someone who has an AWD vehicle.

          • 0 avatar

            As a Canadian, I urge you to not assume you are safe just because you have an AWD. A FWD with proper winter tires is much safer than an AWD with “all season” tires. If you are driving at speed and hit black ice, your AWD with “all season” tires will be useless in that situation, even with ESC and TC. My advice would be to get a FWD and use that money saved to get a good set of winter tires on separate rims. I’ve driven through the worst of snow storms and my FWDs and a RWD with winter tires have conquered them all.

    • 0 avatar

      I want mine RED with sun roof and paddle shifters like my Maserati.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    Good for Chrysler for making AWD and option.

    I wish Honda would do the same with the Odyssey. The Pilot and Ridgeline use the same platform so the hardware already exisits.

  • avatar

    So, the Chrysler van and the Jeep share the same tranny. One is SUPPOSED to be off-road-ready, presumably the Jeep GC, the other for getting groceries, presumably the van, but one never knows…

    I sure hope that 9-speed transmission isn’t made of glass. Time will tell.

    The AWD option is welcome, however. It may give Chrysler an edge. Soon we’ll see how Consumer Reports feels about this!

  • avatar

    Whatever works best: 8 or 9 speed tranny. Whatever is the most cost-effective.

    CHRYSLER is going to take over where Lincoln and Cadillac have left off. Anyone who wants a strong V6, V8 (or a V8 monster) for less than $60,000 might as well not even look in the competition’s direction.

  • avatar

    Hmm, very interesting on both counts. I know Chrysler has been pushing towards a lot more 8- and 9-speed trannies and I’m also a little curious about the durability there.

    AWD is even more interesting, since the advent of Stow & Go (one of the best non-drivetrain engineering feats in modern auto history, IMHO) effectively rendered it impossible. If they can really make this work without forcing the middle seats to be paper thin and flimsy, then fantastic! Also, how about the minivan standard “fold into the floor” rear seat? I could imagine that having to be foregone to make AWD possible, but maybe we’re in for a pleasant surprise.

    However, I don’t have a need for AWD in a van, so it’s moot.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe the AWD Sienna still does the rear seat folding into the floor.

      There are compromises with AWD, though. The AWD Sienna, for example, forces you into run flat tires because rear prop shaft occupies the same space that the spare would. I imagine if Chrysler got stow and go, AWD, and the rear seat folding into the floor, there would be no room for a spare.

    • 0 avatar

      ash78, you’re right that Stow-n-Go did eliminate the AWD option as the “bin” for the 2nd row seats blocked the passageway for the drive shaft. I wonder if they are able to stow the seats in a more “outboard” position and make a drive-shaft passageway between two independent seat bins, or if they made AWD and Stow-n-Go mutually exclusive options.

      Personally I would like to see Chrysler join the rest of the minivans in offering 8-passenger seating. If AWD and Stow-n-Go can be combined it would not bode well for the option of a central 2nd-row seat.

      The stowable 3rd-row seat should not affect AWD as an option as that bin is already completely behind the rear axle. The AWD Honda Ridgeline maintains that bin as a lockable trunk in the bed.

    • 0 avatar

      Electric drive for the rear wheels. Problems solved!

  • avatar

    I am not clear on how all the AWD systems compare, but I feel like the AWD system offered in the Dodge Journey would be a perfect fit for the minivan. It takes a minor hit for fuel efficiency but it works like a dream and requires no decision making on the part of the driver.

    Good on them. Chrysler really seems to be on a roll these days.

    • 0 avatar

      The AWD/4WD system in our 2012 Grand Cherokee is interesting since it is RWD until the driver selects AWD/4×4-Hi/4×4-Lo with the twist of a knob on the SelecTracII.

      OTOH, Jeep also has the QuadraDrive system which is AWD, all the time.

  • avatar

    What would really help is a return to the smaller minivans. The original was 175 inches long, about the length of a Corolla, and now the “grand” models run over 200 inches, longer than a Chrysler 300. It would be nice if they put the mini back into their minivan.

    • 0 avatar

      In 1995, my parents bought an original Honda Odyssey – yeah, that one. It was 187 inches long, and one of the few minivans that we could fit in our driveway along with my father’s Acura TL. Today, you can get a Kia Rondo (in Canada, at least) that is 178 inches long and a Chevrolet Orlando is about 183 inches long. Otherwise, you are in 200″ + territory.

    • 0 avatar

      Right you are. We had a ’91 Dodge Caravan, standard length, and AWD. We still miss it, even with a Toyota Highlander. You sat higher, and had loads of room. A great long distance traveller. The present Caravan is too long, and ,of course, lacks AWD.

      • 0 avatar

        If you haven’t driven a Caravan/Town & Country in awhile, you’d be surprised how refined and comfortable they are. The addition of AWD will only make it better

        • 0 avatar

          I got a 2013 Touring back in August based primarily on Jack’s review, and have been enjoying the hell out of it so far.

          I’m not sure that I agree on the AWD (improved acceleration at the expense of simplicity, weight and fuel efficiency – traction really isn’t an issue with such a heavy vehicle), but they really are comfortable.

    • 0 avatar

      No, you’re making me want my mom’s MPV back! I need to find the scrap holder that has it (it got totaled in a wreck according to NICB), buy it, get someone to restore it, and live in peace. Hopefully, they can install some side airbags and the DVD player I always wanted when I was little.

      Oh, and there’s the Mazda5. That exists too.

  • avatar

    i would be more interested in a hybrid than all wheel drive. nobody else on the market has one. The stow and go seating compartments would make great battery storage. my parents van made mostly short trips all its life.

    but if they do the AWD route, i just hope they can keep the stow and go seating, at least on the 2wd model.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    The news that Chrysler will offer AWD as an option on the next generation minivan is potentially interesting as long as it doesn’t totally compromise the second and third row seating. I have reservations about the durability of Chrysler’s automatic transmissions–I had a ’95 Plymouth Voyager-it ran relatively trouble free until about 105k when the transmission ate itself. Afterwards I had all sorts of problems with replacement transmissions; so much so that I’m reluctant to buy another Chrysler product. If I decide to get another one I suppose I’ll have to wait several years and see how reliable the new vehicle is.

    • 0 avatar

      The ghosts of Ultradrive and its subsequent namesakes will haunt any potential Chrysler customers for many more years, not to mention the 2.7L fiasco.

      Add to that the fact more Chrysler vehicles are dead on the side of the road than all other makes put together. Especially if they are green!

      • 0 avatar

        Around here, you’re more likely to find late 90’s and early 2000’s GM products dead on the side of the road. Chryslers don’t fare much worse than any other brand.

  • avatar

    The misses and I test drove one of these Chrylser people haulers, at her urging. She felt as if I was being too biased as we were test driving third row equipped vehicles.

    After driving and putting a 2011 Honda Pilot Touring 4WD through its paces (my recommendation), we succumbed to trying a minivan… the test subject? A 2012 Town and Country.

    I found the transmission hesitated to downshift. Upshifting was not exactly precise, either.

    The engine in the T&C also had this annoying shake… every so often. Only way I could explain it better is like a misfire in the making. On occasion, the tachometer’s needle would drop- ever so slightly- and keep on with its regular idle. Put it to you this way- it wasn’t what you would call a smooth idle.

    It wasn’t continuous, but it occured enough to notice it, for sure.

    Finally, I also remember this God awful whining noise out of the rear speakers. As I continued to point this out to the salesman, we finally located the source of the irritation. It was the rear speakers at the back of the van. Why they were giving that feedback, I am not certain. But it was just audible enough to the be the topic of several conversations.

    Now mind you, this van, priced at about 5K-65K less than what they were asking on the Honda Pilot, had less than 1/2 of the amount of miles on the odometer… a hair above 20K. It was also one year newer.

    The Pilot never so much as hesitated. Rattled. Squeaked. Gave any feedback or the like. And it had navigation, rear entertainment system. It was completely loaded.

    The Town and Country had half the amount of goodies to power up.

    Initially, I was convinced that after merging with Fiat, Chryslers would finally graduate to being world class vehicles.

    I’m a little more down to earth about that assumption now.

    • 0 avatar

      I had the opposite impression when we were shopping for minivans last year (wife went with an Odyssey, because of the 3 across seating in the 2nd row).

      The Odyssey felt…unsorted (and still does whenever I borrow it). It feels underdamped, so that you get a weird combination of wallow and rough ride, because the shocks can’t control the suspension enough (but it’s not in “broken shock” territory). There is also the vague power steering

      Also, the Honda’s engine does an occasional weird droning — I think it’s the cylinder deactivation. It hardly feels refined.

      In addition, the ergonomics are amiss, with an IP that slopes away from the driver (rather than towards the driver, as in the T&C). Also, operating the sliding rear doors is cryptic. You’d think the “open the sliding rear doors” button would do the trick, but all it does is beep. It turns out you need to unlock the van first, using a button located elsewhere. But, the van is already unlocked! WTF?

      Last spring when I had to take my wife’s Odyssey in for a recall, I got a Dodge Caravan as a rental. Yes, the interior is blue-collar, and certainly cheaper feeling that the T&C and the Odyssey, but it was the same refined chassis underneath. Well-damped suspension. Firm steering with some feel to it. My daily driver is a 3-series BMW, and I could easily see myself driving a T&C if I needed the extra room, but not the current Odyssey.

    • 0 avatar

      “Initially, I was convinced that after merging with Fiat, Chryslers would finally graduate to being world class vehicles.”

      Respectfully… what on earth ever gave you that (mis)perception in the first place?!? Fiat is farther from “world class” than Italy is from Japan.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, true. But let’s face it. Chrysler needed all the help it could get (at the time).. although it’s product has vastly improved-a sign that the merge with Fiat has indeed helped it.

        Chrylser’s rise in demand since the merger paints a really pretty picture, especially with the “rise from the ashes” marketing ploys that Chrysler has orchestrated: 200’s and 300’s driving around downtown Detroit. Realy nostalgic. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about the industry underdog that Chrysler is. What a turn around.

        However, the pre- and post-bankruptcy engineering isn’t quite as drastic as it’s sales increases may suggest. At least it’s not so obvious (in my humble opinion, mind you) in the Town and Country.

        Now granted, I was comparing apples and oranges- a Pilot w/ the Town and Country- which some could call a penalty on.

        But just the difference between the engines- the coarseness of the Town and Country- the sounds it made- in comparison with the smooth and relatively quiet sounds of the Pilot’s 3.5L. It was really a polarizing, night and day difference.

  • avatar

    That is exactly what is needed but I wouldn’t trust a Chyrco hybrid as Toyota is the best at it. A plugin hybrid with 5 or 8 KWH of batteries would be perfect for soccer moms.

    Time is on your side for a Chryco Minivan with all the options. In 10 years they can be had fully functional for $1,500, $1,000 if they have AWD which will cost somebody lots of $ to keep running.

  • avatar

    An AWD minivan at Chrysler pricing solves 95% of my automotive needs, only giving up on the occasional heavy tow or interesting trail use.

    Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, as it eliminates my excuses to avoid getting one.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ll stick with my used Sedona; I don’t need a $50k AWD minivan.

  • avatar

    My son is fortunate enough to be making scads of money so he decided to buy himself a watch. Not any watch… no sireee it’s a Vacheron Constantin Complication. It looks like a million bucks but with a name like Complication and using an old school movement mechanism, I assured him it would be fraught with trouble. As wealthy young men are wont to do, he didn’t listen to me and bought it.
    Well ……. you guessed it, after the warranty had expired it stopped running. They had to send it from Silicon Valley to the only Complication repair center in the USA which is in New York and then he waited 6 months to have it repaired!! When I asked him how much the repairs cost he said enough to buy several good, dependable watches.
    So …… a CHRYSLER 4 WHEEL DRIVE, MINIVAN with a 9-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION. What could go wrong there?
    Maybe my son is interested in buying one. I-ll follow up with him and let you know.

    • 0 avatar

      I wear an automatic and it has yet to develop a problem since I purchased it slightly used in 2011. Automatics require service every 3-5 years, if this is a problem I would stick with quartz.

      P.S. I’m not up on the Vacheron brand but if he wanted to spend some dough and stay classy (San Diego), I recommend looking at an Omega either new or something classic/rare that’s been restored.

    • 0 avatar

      Your son has great taste. My Omega Speedmaster never ran right. Needed a service every two years. I have an Air-King that is going on 7 years without a service and it is +3 seconds a day (not COSC rated, but well within spec).

      My next watch will be a $59 Seiko5 on Amazon.

    • 0 avatar

      I like Russian mechanicals. They’re crude as hell, but have a ton of character and are really easy to maintain and repair.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I don’t get the point of an AWD minivan either. It seems to me like a purchase that would be made by someone who is too stubborn to just buy an AWD crossover…

    • 0 avatar

      What can a crossover do better than an AWD minivan? If you need to haul people, the Minivan has no peer.

      Ultimately crossovers are just minivans for people who won’t admit that they actually need a minivan.

  • avatar

    I think that the point of a AWD minivan is that it gets people OUT of a silly crossover that doesn’t do well at hauling families. As an owner of a silly CUV with AWD, I can say that it’s fantastic in the snow. Sadly, it converted itself to FWD (dead transfer case) and is total crap in the slippery stuff now. Where it (was) good in the snow, it is absolute rubbish at hauling kids and stuff. No room beyond 3rd row, hard to get in and out of (with child seats), etc.
    More AWD minivans would make the CUV pointless–which is probably why few are made.

  • avatar

    Could someone please enlighten me, why do we need AWD on a minivan? I’ve been driving minivans for 14 years, Caravan for 5, I live in a hilly area in Canada (no shortage of snow and ice this year!!)

    I have snowtires on separate rims, never been stuck. In the summer the snows hide in the basement, I don’t have to constantly drag them around all summer like AWD components. If driving conditions are so bad my 2WD van can’t get through probably nobody should be driving. This year I’ve been passed by several SUV and Pickups in bad conditions, then later we see them in the ditch.

    I can see if you’re a paramedic in Vermont and you must must get to work you just might need AWD, but how many of those drive minivans?

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. FWD + winter tires all the way. No year round gas premium with AWD systems. Plus people don’t realize that AWD helps you accelerate better, but will not help whatsoever in braking situations. Hit a patch of black ice, you need the traction that premium or studded winter tires can provide whether or not you have FWD or AWD.

  • avatar

    Because it is a lot easier to get your bass boat out of the water on a slippery ramp with awd instead of fwd. And it is tough to beat a minivan in usable cargo space.

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