By on March 25, 2019

More voices are piping up, alerting minivan-loving North Americans to a future offering from Fiat Chrysler. With the segment shrinking in the face of overwhelming competition from spacious, pleasant-riding crossovers, the possibility of an all-wheel drive Chrysler Pacifica is big news, and one Canadian union official claims it’s on the way.

In the minivan market, it looks like Toyota’s Sienna won’t stand alone as the only AWD offering for long.

According to Automotive News, Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, FCA claims will begin retooling its Windsor, Ontario assembly plant this summer to add the AWD version to the minivan mix. This move, Cassidy said, could lengthen the plant’s planned July shutdown for an additional three weeks.

FCA hasn’t confirmed the AWD Pacifica or the extended downtime, which would push Windsor’s downtime to five weeks.

Earlier this month, another report, drawing on a number of sources, claimed FCA indeed plans to offer a more capable Pacifica, after passing on the idea at the time of the model’s launch. In that piece, another Unifor official said FCA was exploring the possibility of an AWD Pacifica. Joe McCabe, CEO of AutoForecast Solutions, said his sources pointed to a second-quarter 2020 launch of the grippier minivan, adding that the move would bring “relevance” to the model.

Certainly, adding AWD would cause more than a few Pacifica fence-sitters to switch their outlook from “maybe” to “buy” — especially those living in inclimate regions of the continent. Toyota Canada claims 58 percent of the Siennas it sold last year were AWD models.

Windsor Assembly saw a number of shutdowns this past winter. A two-week January idle period sought to pare down inventories of the Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, while a parts shortage in February saw the plant go dark for a week. Over the first two months of 2019, Pacifica sales fell 24 percent in the United States, with the Grand Caravan falling 27 percent. Last year, Pacifica sales rose 21 percent over the previous year’s tally, with Pacifica sales staying static.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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44 Comments on “Unifor Official: Expect an All-Wheel Drive Chrysler Pacifica...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Sounds like a smart move to me. Maybe they’ll do an eAWD version of the hybrid; that would make sense. But either way, the Pacifica is premium enough to justify AWD.

  • avatar
    jatz

    There are still plenty of affluent breeders out there and this will be well received by those no longer knee-jerking Japanese.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “this will be well received by those no longer knee-jerking Japanese.”

      When I was car shopping the salesman at a Dodge/Chrysler place specifically mentioned seeing a lot of Odysseys/Siennas being traded in on Hybrid Pacificas.
      Going off the first few years of the Pacifica’s reliability metrics, Hybrid in particular, a bunch of people are about to come running back to Siennas and Odysseys.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’m so out of touch with minivans I assumed they all came with available AWD. In fact, AWD is the only way to save the segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Additional towing capacity would be helpful, too.

      How many family men would like to tow a 5000lb travel trailer?

      And, yet, nearly every minivan is rated at 3500lbs of towing capacity. But they also have exceptional interior space utilization, and those sliding doors are great for kids. Bumping up the towing capacity changes my mindset from considering tradeoffs between a minivan and a CUV to “the van is just better”.

      • 0 avatar
        kosmo

        And I’m here to tell you that they all tow 3,500 pounds poorly. 2,500 pounds OK.

        I’d kill for an AWD minivan that towed 5,000 pounds.

        Eagerly awaiting the AWD Transit. Not mini, but still very interested!

  • avatar
    rickkop

    I just hope the awd option is included on the hybrid. If it is, I’m in. Here in the northeast with all the snow that was my need. Rick

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Yes, finally. Smart move on Chrysler’s part

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I know I’m not that bright so I don’t get this. Why has AWD become the most important aspect of a vehicle these days? It adds weight, complexity and cost and will be used by precisely 1% of owners. It’s as if manufacturers have convinced people that without AWD carnage will ensue. I have several friends who would never, ever buy a vehicle without AWD. For the conditions we have here, FWD and a good set of winter tires is all you need unless you live in some rural area where the roads don’t get plowed. And if that’s the case you probably want a truck for extra ground clearance.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “It’s as if manufacturers have convinced people that without AWD carnage will ensue.”

      I’ve often said the same thing and carnage ensued. They know how to brainwash but good.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Why has AWD become the most important aspect of a vehicle these days?”

      Because the snowflakes are petrified by…snowflakes.

      They’ve listened too hard and long to the “white death” weather forecasts–you know, the one that tells you you’re getting 6-10 inches of snow when you end up getting 6 to 10 millimeters, and that you’re going to DIE if you so much as put your car keys in your pocket and put on a coat.

      Of course, these idiots then go out in their AWD/FOUR WHEEL DRIVE! mommymobiles, completely ignorant of the differences between “going” and “stopping”. And they end up in the ditch. And I wander past them in my GTI with factory all-season tires, at a reasonable pace for conditions, and laugh.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        EVERYBODY is ignorant about the reality of snow/ice driving until they’ve had their asses scared off for each vicious exception to normal road physics it offers.

        Compounding that with false promises of AWD’s omnipotence makes those fooled into ditches or worse no subject for snotty laughter.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Coming off a terrible winter with lots of snow I really appreciated having 4WD. As long as I live in the northeast I’ll always have 4WD

        Look, nobody has to have 4WD, but if it makes your life easier, why not?

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “Look, nobody has to have 4WD, but if it makes your life easier, why not?”

          Actual snow/winter tires make your life easier, AND do a significantly better job of it than the factory leasemobile all-seasons spinning around in AWD mode.

          The best of all worlds is a true winter tire with AWD. But AWD with factory all-seasons is a placebo.

          I bet I could take my GTI places your 4WD wouldn’t get you in your winter.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “I bet I could take my GTI places your 4WD wouldn’t get you in your winter.”

            I think Lie2me has an Escape. You’d bottom out before he did.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Actual snow/winter tires make your life easier, AND do a significantly better job of it than the factory leasemobile all-seasons spinning around in AWD mode.”

            Why do these arguments always boil down to snow tires OR 4WD? You know you can have both , don’t you? Kind of kills you’re argument, though

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “I bet I could take my GTI places your 4WD wouldn’t get you in your winter.”

            I bet you most certainly couldn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          “Look, nobody has to have 4WD, but if it makes your life easier, why not?”

          The only thing I have against AWD is its marketing, especially to inexperienced drivers.

          Your accumulated snow/ice savvy presents a best-case scenario for AWD; you already know the pitfalls and will accordingly moderate your driving regardless of vehicle type.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Well yeah, if you’re a stupid lousy driver 4WD won’t help, but I’ve had 4 Jeeps and 2 Escapes all with 4X4/AWD/4WD, I know what I’m doing and what works for where and how I drive. I DON’T need a full on 4X4 system because I don’t go off-road much anymore, but a good 4WD system for my driving conditions is ideal and a big help. It’s a plan I’m going to stick with

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            O-Tay!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            … and don’t anybody forget it ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      Maybe they need AWD to get up steep hills and unplowed roads and parking lots at ski areas on massive powder days?!

      Or they take a lot of winter road trips, and “aged out” of laying in the snow, putting on cable chains at around 40?!

      People that don’t need AWD sure love denigrating people that know they DO need AWD.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        I’ve changed my mind. You may have your AWD.

        Make it so, Number One.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Kosmo gets it. the same people who think no one needs AWD are the same people who when seeing an empty pick-up truck think it’s a “lifestyle” truck. Never mind that the driver may have just dumped a load and is on his way to pick-up another or tows a boat to the lake on weekends. It’s the moment you’re seen with an empty truck or a 4X4 on dry pavement is all some people need to label you

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “People that don’t need AWD sure love denigrating people that know they DO need AWD.”

        We denigrate people who THINK they need AWD because they saw a snowflake once.

        Seriously. What percentage of drivers regularly “go up steep hills and unplowed roads and parking lots at ski areas on massive powder days” compared to “regularly drive 5 miles to work when there’s snow on the grass”?

        What percentage of drivers regularly “take a lot of winter road trips” in areas that need chains?

        And–most importantly–can that small percentage of buyers have such an impact on the market that the manufacturers trip over themselves to build all this AWD/4WD stuff?

        No, it can’t. This maniacal “need” for AWD is a pure marketing invention, which has gotten into the minds of people frankly too stupid to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          For the record:
          – Not all roads are flat and level
          – Not all roads get plowed
          – There are places in the world where the temperature in winter goes above 32F and below 32F in the same day and then you get “ice” which tends to have a low coefficient of friction

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          You’d be surprised how many apparently flat surfaces become impossible to maneuver when covered with a little snow and ice. Also, that’s a judgement call that’s up to the individual driver to determine. What I think might be an easy road to manage in winter, my mother may not think so

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          Give it a rest, Jalop. We need to STFU on this and just drive what we wanna drive.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            Doesn’t change having to hear stupid stuff from stupid people who panic at the sight of a dusting of snow on the grass, declaring that they NEED to have AWD all year long because of that.

            Kill the AWD mania, and watch gas consumption go down across the board.

            Here’s an idea: let Kalifornia assess a surcharge for AWD/4WD, either at purchase (think gas guzzler tax) or during yearly registration, and watch the “lifestyle” change.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Stop hanging out with those kinds of people?

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I dunno, I’m definitely not one to feel helpless without AWD and am the guy that puts snow tires on all his cars, but man my brief ownership of an old A4 Quattro left me VERY impressed with how secure road holding was, in the rain in particular, and of course in the winter on snow tires it was an absolute traction champ. I don’t feel “afraid of snowflakes.” Likewise on several rentals in the rain or snow, on all season tires, I appreciated having AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      In the upper midwest I have had exactly one four wheel drive vehicle and that was for playing off road. Winter tires work great and don’t kill your mileage like AWD.

      I do admit, I have gotten stuck in my driveway a couple times because of drifts, but that was before we had purchased winter tires.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Tesla has shown that electric all-wheel-drive can both increase electric range and performance (at the expense of cost and complexity – but not necessarily any cost or complexity premium over mechanical all-wheel-drive). I am curious whether the new drivetrain will be electric-based.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “electric all-wheel-drive can both increase electric range and performance”

      What kind of “performance” might you want to be laying down in road conditions requiring AWD?

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        The “D” models of the Tesla Model S have all-wheel drive thanks to dual motors, front wheel and rear wheel. Compared to the two wheel drive Model S with the same battery, the D models get more range from the same size battery (thanks to more efficient regenerative braking, I believe) and faster 0-60 (thanks to better traction).

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Here in Utah they do a fantastic job of clearing the roads. However-without AWD or 4WD one can get stuck in a parking lot….yes it happens.

    That’s when “all season tires” and either one of the above combinations come in to play.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    As a kid growing up in the country my first two cars were station wagons. Studded snow tires were mandatory in order to reliably get down to the highway – even down the driveway, sometimes. My next car was a Ford Tempo. It had the hilarious 5-speed and the crap 4-holer. Crucially, with 98% of its weight on the front suspension, it also had front-wheel drive. I quickly secured a set of chains for the front tires and, thusly-equipped, that thing would go places in the snow that would make an M1A1 Abrams take pause.

    Do I want that scene in my life again? Negative. AWD/4WD being common is an excellent thing. My only complaint now is that, while pricing out a new F-150 on the online, 4X4 added something like CDN$4000 to the cost. I’ll keep buying used, in that case. I can fix it.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Maybe this will give Toyota a kick in the pants. There isn’t much difference between my 2011 AWD Sienna and the 2019 version.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Toyota won’t change a thing until they run some numbers that say it makes sense for them to ramp up the new Sienna on the TNGA platform.

      The current Sienna is selling “well enough” for them, despite it being damn near 10 years old.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      New Sienna will be out next year

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        I call BS. Toyota will let it ride like Dodge has let the Grand Caravan ride. Minivans reached peak whatever a few years ago; as long as it’s cheap to manufacture while meeting federal regulations, why change anything.


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