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Chrysler Wants To Redefine Minivan Category With 2017 Pacifica

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will announce the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which will redefine the minivan category.

FCA will drop the Town & Country name and officially unveil the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday. FCA is also planning to eventually phase out the Dodge Grand Caravan.

"Sure, it is absolutely risky to change the name, but that's how confident we are," says Timothy Kuniskis, head of Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat. "We wanted to change the name so that you think, 'this is new, this is fresh, I need to check this out and forget the perception that I had about the previous minivan.'"

The new Pacifica brings an entirely new look to the minivan by hiding its sliding doors. At first glance the Pacifica does not even look like a minivan. Kuniskis adds that the new Pacifica is a "no-compromises minivan," giving everything consumers want in a minivan.

"We started from the ground up to design the most technologically advanced minivan, which offers bold styling, class-leading ride and handling and unmatched fuel economy, with the Pacifica Hybrid delivering up to 80 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in city driving," added Kuniskis. "The all-new Chrysler Pacifica was thoughtfully designed and engineered to provide unsurpassed levels of comfort, convenience, technology and functionality, making it the perfect combination for modern families."

Dave Sullivan, an auto analyst for Auto Pacific and a minivan owner, says that the 2017 Pacifica will be a monumental leap.

"Inside, the materials ... and buttons, switches all feel very nice and very high quality, and they really have gone all-in on rear-seat entertainment," says Sullivan.

Market experts believe that the redesigned 2017 Chrysler Pacifica will give a stiff competition in the minivan category in the near term.

FCA announced that the Pacifica will include a redesigned 3.6-liter, V-6 Pentastar engine, which produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The latest engine increases the gas compression and is also lighter, which helps the car to achieve better fuel economy.

FCA also revealed that the 2017 Pacifica is also the first hybrid minivan, which is equipped with an innovative new electronically variable transmission (EVT) with two electric motors that can drive the wheels.

The minivan can run in the all-electric mode for up to 30 miles and return 80 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent). The Pacifica has three rows of seating that can accommodate eight people. If required, the Chrysler minivan also has enough room for accommodating loads the size of an 8-by-4-foot sheet of plywood.

The battery in the hybrid version of the car is located under the second row seat, which allows for keeping bigger space for cargo. Owners of the Pacifica hybrid can recharge the battery of their minivan in just 2 hours with a 240-volt plug-in system.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica will also be available in a non-hybrid model that will have a V6 engine, which produces 287 hp.

The minivan will come with a 7-inch information display in the instrument panel and an 8.4-inch touchscreen, which runs Chrysler's infotainment system, Uconnect Access.

The hybrid version of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica will be available in two models starting on the second half of 2016. The non-hybrid version of the minivan will be available in six models and will be launched this spring.

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