Electric AWD on the Way For Chrysler Minivans, Report Says
Earlier this year, when rumors of a forthcoming all-wheel drive Chrysler Pacifica arose, the minivan segment seemed ready to birth a rival to Toyota’s AWD Sienna. Instead, Chrysler ended up debuting a stripped-down version of the FWD Pacifica called the Voyager.
AWD isn’t off the table, it seems, but the traditional form of all-wheel traction is. A new report claims the coming year will bring an electrified AWD minivan from Windsor Assembly.
According to sources tapped by MoparInsiders, 2020 will see the unveiling of a refreshed Pacifica with optional eAWD — a modern solution that avoids the often tricky process of sending a propshaft aft to the rear axle. This was the reason Fiat Chrysler didn’t offer an AWD Pacifica from the outset. FCA officials claimed adding traditional mechanical AWD would mean foregoing the model’s Stow & Go rear seats, which happen to be a key selling feature.
Adding an eAWD system that powers the rear wheels electrically, independent of the front-mounted engine/transmission (like that found in new Toyota crossovers and hybridized versions of the Jeep Compass and Renegade introduced in Europe), means the fancy disappearing seats can stay. Suddenly, the model can boast two attractive features.
The forthcoming refreshed Pacifica and Voyager will appear later in 2020, MI claims, going on sale as a 2021 model-year vehicle. Besides the addition of an AWD hybrid model, the minivans will boast updated styling that hints at the soon-to-depart Dodge Grand Caravan. That model, a mainstay in the FCA stable, is expected to die at some point next year.
With the Grand Caravan gone, the Pacifica and low-priced Voyager will have to take on that minivan’s loyal customers. As such, the Chrysler duo’s grille is expected to grow larger and more pronounced, not entirely unlike the Chrysler 300. Headlights stand to become slimmer, with LED lighting standard at least on the Pacifica.
Will the creation of an AWD FCA minivan boost flagging sales? Perhaps for the Pacifica nameplate, but the loss of the Grand Caravan — by far FCA’s biggest minivan seller — will surely see the automaker’s overall minivan volume fall. Through the first three-quarters of 2019, Americans bought over 99,000 Grand Caravans and just over 70,000 Pacificas. Those year-to-date sales tallies are down 18 and 23 percent, respectively.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler]
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