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Chrysler debuts new Town&Cou… Pacifica [w/ Poll]

Earlier today Chrysler revealed its crucial new model, the Pacifica minivan. “Wait, isn’t this the new Town&Country?” I hear you say? Yes, the name change is pretty surprising, given that the Town & Country and Voyager were pioneers of the segment and enjoy great name-recognition, but Chrysler’s logic is that they’ve become too synonymous with the old-style minivan and were tainted by the lackluster predecessor. Enter the “Pacifica” name, which last served on an upmarket minivan/crossover model, sort of like the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, that Chrysler retired in 2008 after only five years of sales. Such a name change is not unprecedented, but only time will tell if the new name will stick (as it did when Ford replaced the Escort with the Focus) or whether the carmaker will have a change of heart (as Ford had when it replaced the Taurus with the Five Hundred, only to  change the name back a few years later).

The new car itself looks really good, going straight to the top of the class styling-wise in my opinion, displacing the Kia Sedona. While the front, which is gives the Pacifica a family resemblance to the 200, is probably the least attractive aspect of the car, the sides look great with the concave accent lines, while the rear does a great job of making the minivan shape semi-interesting. In fact, the whole concept reminds me of the new Renault Espace and Opel/Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, both of which use attractive styling with large wheels to appeal to those who want “more than a minivan”. Technically, the Pacifica also looks promising, with an all-new platform that makes the car up to 300lbs lighter than the old model, and a class-first plug-in hybrid model that promises up to 30 miles of electrical driving.

What will be interesting now is how well the Pacifica will do in the marketplace. The chart below shows Minivan sales over the past year, and clearly illustrates a few trends. First, the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan have been, in combined sales terms, the undisputed market leaders. Second, the segment has shrunk by almost a half between 2006 and 2015 to below 600,000 units per year. As a result, there are only a few players left in 2015, and only three rivals that really matter – Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and, to a lesser extent, Kia Sedona. It will be fascinating to see whether the Pacifica can breathe new life into this segment.


So, what do you think, does the new model have what it takes to succeed?

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