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Detroit show: Chrysler takes the Pacifica route

Over the ocean: In the United States the Pacifica will be offered with a Pentastar V6 engine and a hybrid powertrain.

Chrysler Pacifica set to replace Town and Country in US, but unlikely for Australia


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12 Jan 2016

CHRYSLER has introduced its Pacifica people-mover at this year's Detroit motor show, but the new seven-to-eight-seater is unlikely to make it Down Under, leaving the historic American brand as a one-model marque in Australia.

The MPV replaces the Town and Country in its home market – it is also rebadged as a Dodge Grand Caravan in the US – however a replacement for the Australian-market Grand Voyager is not likely given the limited appeal and sales potential of a high-end people-mover.

Initially the Pacifica will be built in left-hand-drive configuration at Chrysler's assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, but it is believed the car-maker could add right-hand drive production down the track.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia corporate communications senior manager Andrew Chesterton confirmed that the people-hauler would not make it Down Under, but added that the company always keeps its options open.

“While there is no immediate plan to introduce the Chrysler Pacifica to the Australian market, nothing is ever completely ruled out,” he said. “Our product line-up is always dictated by customer demand. As it stands at the moment there is no immediate plan to add it to Australia.” The current-generation Grand Voyager is no longer sold in Australia and spent some of last year in run-out. FCA still has the Dodge Journey and Fiat Freemont people-mover/crossovers in its stable as seven-seat options.

The only other model on offer under the Chrysler stable in Australia is the recently updated 300 large sedan, but Mr Chesterton said FCA was committed to the Chrysler brand in Australia, despite the dwindling line-up and its discontinuation in the United Kingdom.

“Chrysler remains an important brand for FCA, both locally and around the world. The Chrysler 300 is our flagship sedan, and we launched a new model in July last year, closely followed by its big brother, the Chrysler 300 SRT – a vehicle engineered for the Australian market, and one that isn’t available in the USA.

“Importantly, though, when taken as a group of brands, the Chrysler completes our model offering, ensuring our range encompasses small cars, luxury and performance sedans, seven-seat vehicles and a full range of capable SUVs.” The Pacifica is built on an all-new platform and has the lightest and stiffest body structure in its class to ensure minimal body roll and increased agility, while the company says the ride, handling and aerodynamics are “class-leading”.

“Vault-like” noise, vibration and harshness levels are expected from the Pacifica, which is fitted with Active Noise Cancellation technology, while Chrysler says the interior volume is the largest in the segment, with seating for up to eight occupants.

Two powertrains will be offered in the US, including the latest version of the Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 engine producing 214kW and 355Nm and including idle-stop, two-step variable-valve lift, cooled exhaust-gas recirculation and weight-reducing measures for improved fuel efficiency.

This engine is matched with a nine-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that is available in other FCA products.

Few details have been made available for the hybrid, but it uses a 16kWh lithium-ion battery, has an electric-only driving range of 48km and sips about 2.9 litres of fuel per 100km.

The design follows that of the 200 mid-size sedan in carrying the car-maker's new corporate face and has a smoother, more rounded look than the model it replaces.

The sliding door track lines are hidden under the rear side glass ensuring cleaner lines, and the hybrid version carries a unique grille and wheel designs.

There are 10 exterior paint options available and the Pacifica comes with wheels up to 20 inches, depending on the variant.

Inside the people-mover features an optional tri-pane panoramic sunroof which is said to add to the feeling of spaciousness, while safety features include a surround-view camera, park assist, adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning and a lane-departure warning and lane-keeping aid.

There is a 7.0-inch full-colour driver information display, an 8.4-inch touchscreen using the Uconnect system, including a Uconnect Theatre rear-seat entertainment system with a pair of 10-inch touchscreens and internet connectivity.

The KeySense programmable key fob allows parents to have control over inexperienced driver's use of the vehicle by placing limits on speed and audio volume, preventing the disabling of some features including the rear parking sensors and forward collision warning, while the audio is muted when the front seatbelts are not buckled.

A six-speaker audio system is standard but a 13-speaker Alpine or 20-speaker Harman Kardon system is also available.

Other features include keyless entry and start, heated and ventilated seats and “segment-first” handsfree sliding doors and tailgate, which is operated by a kicking motion under the doors or tailgate.

The Chrysler Stow 'n Go seating and storage system has been updated for the Pacifica and now includes a function, operated by a button near the B-pillar, that moves the front seat forward allowing the second-row seat to be stowed in the floor tub.

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