By on May 21, 2015

2015 Chrysler Town & Country

Move over, Toyota. You won’t be the only automaker hocking an all-wheel drive minivan when the new Town & Country arrives next year.

According to Sergio Marchionne, the next minivan will get all-wheel drive, but something’s gotta give.

Packaging constraints as they are, and the Town & Country’s features as they are, the next generation minivan can only bring all-wheel drive to fruition in one of two ways: ditch Stow ‘N Go to free up space under the passenger floor or implement a hybrid system with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. “It’s not that complicated. We’re exploring both,” said Marchionne, Automotive News reports.

Considering the popularity of Stow ‘N Go for Chrysler’s minivan twins, the latter option seems most likely, and it isn’t without precedent.

Starting with the second-generation Cube in Japan, Nissan offered a system called “e4WD” that sent power to the electrically-driven rear wheels when the front wheels slipped. It also eliminated the need for a center coupling and reduced parasitic loss typically associated with mechanical all-wheel drive systems.

The new Chrysler minivan will debut at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in January before heading off to dealers later the same year as a 2017 model.

[h/t AutoGuide]

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22 Comments on “Marchionne: AWD Minivan Will Lose Stow ‘N Go or Gain Electric Motor...”

  • avatar

    Losing Stow and Go would be an epic fail, especially if you’re dropping the cheaper Dodge. In the upper price brackets Stow and Go actually helps set the T&C apart from Sienna and Oddy. Losing it, it just becomes a Chrysler vs Toyonda in my mind (gee this is a tough decision). FWIW I had to change minivans three times on a recent trip due to typical Chrysler-in-fleet-use problems and I rejected two attempts to put me in non-FCA vans precisely because of stow and go (and the fact my near crippled mother can get into the middle row bucket seat/door with such ease).

    • 0 avatar

      They already announced a plugin hybrid T&C, so they’re going to make a hybrid.

      I guess that means the question is an implementation detail, and a question about whether people who really want AWD would accept a hybrid system with it.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    I saw that a good number of JDM vehicles have the electrically driven AWD option. In NA the only two that come to mind are the hybrid Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX.

    The Kia Soul concept from earlier this year had eAWD as well.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It needs to be a hybrid, which would also help with fuel economy – something minivans desperately need.

    I’m no fan of Stow-n-Go due to its paper-thin seats, but it has a lot of brand equity for FCA.

    • 0 avatar

      A hybrid van will require batteries under the floor, losing the low floor advantage of a FWD van. At least part of the mileage problem with a minivan is that it’s shaped like a box, with aerodynamics to match. The interior space is the advantage over a conventional station wagon, and the mileage penalty is the tradeoff.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll put my Sienna against any wagon not made by Volkswagin in an MPG contest. We typically see high 20s in the highway.

        VWs wagons get great fuel economy when they run, but having my van tow them back to the dealer when they break will throw off the fuel consumption numbers. (I owned a 2001 Jetta TDI that was a beautiful POS, and I’m still not over it.)

        • 0 avatar

          The tow back to the dealer not only throws off the mileage numbers, but in some places you could get a speeding ticket. Awhile back, TTAC had an article about a Dutch driver who got a speeding ticket by mail, and the accompanying photo clearly showed the vehicle being towed, over the speed limit.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’m no fan of Stow-n-Go due to its paper-thin seats, but it has a lot of brand equity for FCA.”

      I agree that the first gen SnG seats were like sitting on a thing cardbard chair, but the most recent versions they’ve been using for the past few years are much better. They have comfort equal to a normal non folding seat.

  • avatar

    As a strong potential customer, this is quite the conundrum. While the middle seat stow and go is a nice feature, I can count on 2 fingers the times I’ve actually used it. As long as they kept the rear seat stow and go, I’d be fine. I’d rather have the traditional AWD, presumably from the Cherokee that’s switchable between 2wd and 4wd. Otherwise, the e4wd sounds like an elegant solution, but at what cost? I’m not going to spend $45k on a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      I would assume any AWD that they do will be a car type (Audi, Subaru, etc.) AWD, not an off-road type 4WD with locking diff.

      If you are doing a hybrid anyway (and vans could sure use the mileage boost) the added cost of the 2 motors at the rear is I would bet less than the cost of adding a takeoff from the transmission, a power shaft, a center differential and a rear differential, etc. I would assume such systems are not full time AWD but rather that when the front wheels begin to slip the rear motors will kick on for a few seconds until grip is restored – therefore these motors don’t have to be all that heavy duty. You can get a lot of torque from even a small electric motor (e.g. a starter motor) for a short amount of time but they tend to overheat and self destruct if used continuously. These motors would not have to be continuous duty.

      • 0 avatar

        Subaru and (most) Audis have full-time, permanent AWD. Most cars and crossovers have part-time systems that use Haldex (or similar) to switch to AWD when they detect slip.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    I think Stow-N-Go is overrated. In order to accomplish it, the middle row seats are thin and uncomfortable. I have the Routan, which is the Chrysler van without stow and go but with two very comfortable captain’s chairs instead. These don’t fold into the floor but the seatbacks do fold down and the seats can fold vertically against the front row and the 3rd row does fold flat – this gives you maybe 90% of the cargo capacity of the van with the seats removed. I would say that I have to take out the 2nd row seats (admittedly no fun – they are around 50 lbs. and awkward to handle – they should have at least used alu. instead of steel for the frames) maybe 4 or 5 x per year and the other 360 days the 2nd row is comfortable.

  • avatar

    “we’re exploring both” LOL, I’m sure it was decided two or three years ago considering we are 6 months away from introduction.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Same thing with the regular Wrangler stories. FCA would have us believe that they have yet to make major design decisions long after the platform has been finalized.
      My rationale for the Wrangler stories is that they want to appease Jeep fanboys by proposing radical changes, and then introducing a Wrangler with only minor changes (for instance, the non-folding windscreen will be easier to accept if they keep the body-on-frame and solid axles).

      In this case, I’m guessing the next minivan won’t have middle-row Stow ‘N Go (it’s probably a variation on the 200 platform). They’ll justify it by explaining that the hybrid option was too expensive, with minimal EPA gains.

    • 0 avatar

      @Delta88, you’re absolutely right. I’d say most car companies start designing 5-6 years before a new model launch, so there’s no way that they would leave that big of a detail undecided until this late.

      I really think FCA just wants to be in the news. They’ve made comments like this about the next gen Wrangler too. I guess it worked if we’re talking about it right?

  • avatar

    Freelance Vocabulary Nazi here!

    “Hocking” = exchanging for a short-term cash loan at a pawn shop
    “Hawking” = selling

  • avatar

    Driving the rear wheels electrically for AWD is not the same as making a hybrid van, because it doesn’t address issues of battery capacity. You can have a dual-powered van without it being a hybrid – the question then becomes – why would you? The answer might be – cost and retaining sto-n-go. The logical place to put the storage batteries is in the area now used for the sto-n-go storage bins. As Jack Denver pointed out, most people don’t stow their middle seats very often, and it does come with compromises to seat comfort. A hybrid van could have a middle row seat design that is more like the Routan, and with some, but not all, of the middle area storage being taken up by hybrid battery and electronics. After owning a Dodge van with Sto-n-go, and now owning an Odyssey, I find that I don’t miss the Sto-n-go too much because the Odyssey does have a smaller underfloor storage compartment that is big enough for stuff that I need to keep hidden. My other van needs have been accomplished by folding down half or all of the third row seat. On the other hand, I do miss the power liftgate that was on my Dodge GC SXT and is not on my Odyssey EX-L, and I miss the center console and trip computer that the Dodge had that the Odyssey doesn’t. I usually kept one seat folded on the dodge. Perhaps if they could save one folding seat that would be a good compromise.

  • avatar

    Stow-and-go sucks.

    For the record, my wife went for a Honda Odyssey because of the 3-across seating in the second row. I thought the T&C was a better drive.

    Why does S&G suck? Well, if you have kids who need child seats, you’ll never use it. Beyond that, I found the S&G seats to be thin, and the headroom lacking. I kept thinking that lowering the seat into the S&G underfloor area would have yielded more headroom and seats with more padding.

    S&G sounds cool, but there are too many trade-offs. Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    I love the Stow-n-go on my Dodge and would be PO’d if they dropped that feature. Even when we don’t have the seats folded down the bins under the floor are useful for storage. Not having to remove seats is a big plus, especially if you need to reconfigure on the fly when hauling a longer item. I have 2 kids and moving the seats was never a problem before, very easy not they’re just using the normal vehicle seatbelts.

    I really don’t get the need to AWD on a van. I drive in a city that has winter from November to April some years – heck we had 5 cm last weekend (the other months are just bad snowmobiling) and with a good set of winter tires – not all season, not all weather – winter tires have never had any problems. Always makes me shake my head when people think they need a Yukon 4×4 for 3 days of snow a year.

    As long as I can still get a FWD van with S&G I’ll be happy.

  • avatar

    Electric all wheel drive exists for some years as the hybrid system on PSA cars: Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4, Peugeot 508 RXH, Citroën DS5 Hybrid4.
    It seems not to be a cause for concern. I don’t see how you could do it without a battery pack, even if it’s a small one.

  • avatar

    I don’t think they’re debating ditching Stow ‘n Go for all minivans, just the AWD equipped ones. There were patent drawings for next-gen seats circulating months back.

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