Minivan (Sales) Magic to Commence Soon?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
minivan sales magic to commence soon

There was a flurry of speculation earlier this year about a traditional people hauler, with whispering voices claiming that, in a bid to boost demand, Fiat Chrysler was prepared to offer an all-wheel drive version of its Pacifica minivan. Minivan sales aren’t doing too hot, as you know. Crossovers and the like…

While the automaker’s minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario did get a funding top-up in April, thus far the only byproduct of that $355 million cash dump was the creation of a new/old nameplate — Voyager — to stand in for lower-trimmed Pacificas. A new bit of evidence, however, does point to an eventual AWD Pacifica.

From Twitter user, um, Takuro Spirit comes this:

In looking to see if the "VOYAGER" badge has been added to the FCA Star Parts catalog, I noted a little something…

— TAKURO SPIRIT (@TakuroSpirit) November 13, 2019

The rumblings this past spring were not confirmed by FCA, though Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, did tell Automotive News that extended summer downtime was being planned to add an AWD Pacifica to the mix. Since then, nothing — FWD Voyager notwithstanding.

If the parts catalog peep-show turns out to be correct, Chrysler won’t be the first automaker to attempt to juice a model’s sales through the addition of all-wheel drive. It’s become the go-to remedy in a market where falling sales afflict almost everything that isn’t a truck, SUV, or CUV. Currently, only the Toyota Sienna offers minivan customers the option of four-wheel grip.

Whether or not an AWD Pacifica would actually lead to a dealership dash is debatable, though the overall package is a better stand-in for a CUV than the recent AWD sedans we’ve seen. Adding AWD didn’t seem to do anything for the revamped Mazda 3, nor did it set Nissan Altima sales on fire. Time will tell if the inclusion of a propshaft in the 2020 Toyota Camry and 2021 Avalon, both announced earlier today, aids in bringing more customers through the door.

Just how Chrysler — assuming an AWD Pacifica is on the way — intends to create an AWD minivan is an open question, too. Two options are on the table: a traditional mechanical linkup, which could necessitate body modifications, and an e-axle setup, where a small battery feeds power to an electric motor powering the rear axle.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Join the conversation
2 of 22 comments
  • Kosmo Kosmo on Nov 14, 2019

    AWD couldn't hurt. We've got it on our Sienna. Best "big wagon" ski car currently available. It looked like the new Ford Transit AWD could take away the crown, but Ford, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the Passenger Van version would no longer offer the hot rod, trailer dragging, EcoBoost V6. Argh!

  • Brettc Brettc on Nov 14, 2019

    FCA has announced that the third shift will continue now until March 31, 2020. So I guess Grand Caravan production will hang on for a while longer?

  • Tassos The EQS is the best looking BEV, better than even the only Tesla I would ever consider (the S) and more luxurious inside etc etcThe self driving features will come in handy when I'm 110 and my eyesight and reaction times start to suffer.But that's four decades away, and only Tim recommends 40 year old "used cars"
  • Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
  • Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.Αnd who cares if they sell all they make? this is 100% worthless bragging, since they hardly make ANY. ALL of Subaru's models together, all dozen of them, sell less than the top selling Toyota or Honda or even Tesla sells. ANd furthermore, if you have the intellectual horsepower to understand it, bulldude, which I am 99% sure you sure as hell do not, it is NOT about the sales units, it is not even about the sales revenue.It is all about the P R O F I T S.Am I going slow enough for you, bulldude?
  • Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.