Report: Chrysler Pacifica Could Gain All-Wheel Drive in 2020

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
report chrysler pacifica could gain all wheel drive in 2020

Toyota —er, Fiat Chrysler may add an all-wheel drive version of its Pacifica minivan next year, if a report out of the model’s hometown of Windsor, Ontario pans out.

According to two named — and two unnamed — sources, the automaker wants to take a page from a certain Japanese company known for its hybrid vehicles and sweeten the minivan pot with all-wheel traction, casting a wider net for buyers. In other words: going the extra mile to woo the crossover crowd.

Toyota recently introduced an all-wheel drive version of its Prius hybrid, announcing a hybrid version of its Corolla sedan at the same time. The automaker, heeding the cries of Northeastern buyers, decided to make its vehicles more things to more people, and this seems to be what FCA’s up to, as well.

AN‘s piece cites Dino Chido, national auto director for Canadian autoworker union Unifor, which represents workers at the Windsor plant, and Joe McCabe, CEO AutoForecast Solutions. Chido said the automaker is looking at the possibility of an AWD Pacifica — a claim backed up by two unnamed sources, one of them a supplier employee tasked with designing a part to accommodate such a layout. The source was told he’d be working on a “Chrysler minivan.”

“FCA has not provided us with any intel with regards to future product, but they are looking at the viability and being able to bring that to market,” Chido said, adding that, as far as he knows, FCA hasn’t made a decision.

The automaker reportedly examined a business case for AWD before the model’s launch, but ultimately nixed the idea.

McCabe, drawing on industry sources, told AN that FCA plans to start production on an AWD Pacifica in the second quarter of 2020. “It’s going to help them with their leadership of the product,” he said. “It adds some relevance to it other than what a minivan is defined as.”

The minivan’s popular Stow ’n Go seating, McCabe said, could prove a sticking point, as the fold flat seats might not work with the addition of a propshaft sent to the rear wheels.

Currently, the only minivan offered with all-wheel drive in North America rolls out of a Toyota factory. While the Sienna stands alone in the shrunken segment, the perk of available AWD hasn’t helped it rise to the top. FCA’s ancient Grand Caravan, which uses its spacious cargo area to haul boxes marked “unbeatable value” to buyers across North America, remains in possession of the minivan sales crown.

The Pacifica, offered in a plug-in hybrid variant the Sienna and all other minivans lack, outsold its rival last year — 118,322 to the Sienna’s 87,672. And, while the Sienna’s sales fell 21.4 percent in 2018, Pacifica volume held steady.

FCA contacts wouldn’t say whether the sources’ claims hold water, though Mike Szymkiewicz, head of product planning at FCA Canada, did admit that AWD would probably prove popular with Canadian customers.

“I think it’s definitely an opportunity with our market,” he said. “If you look at some of the competitive vehicles, maybe not the traditional minivan, but even some of the bigger duty [trucks] you can get front-wheel and all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive take rate generally is quite high in all those offerings; I do think it would be an opportunity for us.”

Toyota Canada claims 58 percent of the Siennas it sold north of the border last year were all-wheel drive, bolstering FCA’s business case.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Garrett Garrett on Mar 06, 2019

    Suspension lift, plus cladding. That’ll shift units.

  • Kosmo Kosmo on Mar 07, 2019

    If it includes a spare tire, I'm in when it's time to replace our AWD Sienna. It's our appliance vehicle. I wouldn't even need to drive it or look at it. AWD with spare tire, and I'd be collecting firm quotes.

    • Richard Chen Richard Chen on Mar 07, 2019

      If it's the Pacifica Hybrid that gets e-AWD, then no, as the spare tire well behind the drivers side is consumed by the charging system. I'm guessing that the upcoming TNGA Sienna will feature a hybrid-eAWD configuration like the Highlander Hybrid, can't get them separately.

  • Tassos the announcement is unnecessarily verbose, aka full of it. Most 'justifications" for the shutdown are shameless lies.
  • Jwee I can post images...?????
  • Jwee @Bobby D'OppoThere is no element of the reported plan that involves taking people's carsSeems like you missed the Southpark reference:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO5sxLapAtsMy comment was humor (or humour if you prefer). The city council is not literally taking people's cars, but seems like they wouldn't mind a drop in car ownership. More cyclists! Less pollution! More public transport! A £70 fine per violation! Surely if they came out and said "we are going to take your car", they would get a very stern letter written to them in the strongest language possible, or perhaps even called a bunch of rotters. I am all for good transport networks, but this is just a terrible plan. Visit Amsterdam, and study how to manage traffic skillfully in a dense, medieval city, with no traffic cameras whatsoever, with first rate public transport, where pedestrians, bikes, boats and cars coexist.
  • Tassos with 170k+ miles, and over 15 years old, this vehicle has had a full life. Maybe it's time for the scrapyard.
  • Analoggrotto Idk, I was chased down by like 3 people and threatened with ban at Costco because I refused to walk around the whole building to use the restroom, opting instead to take a shortcut through the customer service / new members entrance.
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