Chrysler Pacifica adds sixth trim level: Touring Plus

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While some of us might not want to admit our fondness for the homely minivan, there’s something about the Chrysler Pacifica that gets unlikely drivers giving it the up-and-down on the sly (speaking from experience, here). A year into its life, the kinda-cool people hauler is getting a sixth trim level, called Touring Plus, that falls about in the middle of the lineup.

Slotting in above the Touring trim ($32,090), the $33,455 Touring Plus offers a number of visual and convenience upgrades, but retains the cloth seats (for leather, you’ll still have to move up to the Touring L level, at $36,090). On the outside, it gets the mesh lower fascia and foglights shared with the higher trim levels, plus projector headlights and LED taillights. For comfort and convenience, it offers three-zone climate control, power liftgate, a universal garage door opener, and second- and third-row sunshades to give your kids the limo treatment.

As an added bonus for Touring Plus customers who opt for the 18-inch wheels and the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment center, Chrysler will throw in the single overhead DVD player for free.

If you were waiting for the “just right” Pacifica to become available, and this higher-content, cloth-seat version suits you just right, there’s no need to wait. The Pacifica Touring Plus is available now.

We aren’t the only ones who want a Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat

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Yes, you read that correctly: ChryslerPacifica. Hellcat. We want one. It’s definitely not happening. But that doesn’t mean we – and the FCA designers – can’t dream, right? That’s what led to this sketch, posted on Instagram by Fiat-Chrysler design boss Ralph Gilles. It looks pretty sweet, including that hella important wing for maximum downforce, yo.

As long as we’re dreaming, we’ve got a few other requests. Let’s put that 707-horsepower, 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 in the middle of the van. Screw the Stow ‘N Go seats – let’s get that engine mounted as low in the car’s midsection as possible. And while we’re at it, let’s go for rear-wheel drive. And a six-speed manual transmission. And a third row of seats behind the engine, but rear-facing, so we can make our friends puke.

In all seriousness, we’re looking forward to driving the regular Pacifica when it launches this Spring. To refresh your memory, it’s a totally new van, and will even be offered in Hybrid spec with an 80-mile-per-gallon-equivalent rating. Sounds impressive.

Oh, heck. Hellcats > Hybrids. Ralph, we urge you to make this one a reality.

[Source: Autoblog]

Chrysler minivans spied in group test

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The 2017 Chrysler Town & Country is just a few weeks from its debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, and the company continues to evaluate its new minivan. A massive batch of spy shots now shows a whole fleet of them testing, along with the current model and competitors like the Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona.

Several of these examples drop the heavy cladding from earlier prototypes. Compared to today’s model, the new Town & Country gets a major styling upgrade. These shots provide another glimpse at the updated front end with its narrow mesh grille and Chrysler 200-like headlights. The swirling camouflage along the side can’t hide the more sculpted shape, including a character line that slices through the door handles.

Three of the photos also provide a glance at the instrument panel, including the display between the gauges. In this case, it shows the tire pressures, and there’s a digital speedometer on top. Rumors suggest at least two powertrains for the new Town & Country: an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid version or one with a 3.2-liter V6. The van should also offer plenty of connectivity, with reports of USB ports for each row of seats and optional foot-activated side doors.

[Source: Autoblog]

Chrysler celebrates 90 years with special trim levels

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Ninety years is a long time for any business to stick around, and it’s especially difficult in the auto industry. Chrysler is celebrating the milestone this year by loading on extra tech with 90th Anniversary Edition packages for the 200, 300, and Town & Country.

Chrysler’s 90th Anniversary Edition for the 2016 300 is based on the Limited trim, and it includes an 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system with navigation, SiriusXM radio, and a custom splash screen. In addition, buyers get a dual-pane sunroof and floor mats with the anniversary logo. Separately, the 2016 300S is available with a retuned suspension and steering that includes increased spring rates, larger sway bars, and set of Goodyear Eagle F1 tires.

The 200’s 90th Anniversary Edition is also based on the Limited trim, and the package adds an 8.4-inch Uconnect system without navigation, sunroof, heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power seats, and custom floor mats. For 2016, the Limited also has blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection as a standalone option, and it and the S version get a standard backup camera. The 200C now comes with a heated steering wheel, as well.

Finally, the Town & Country is due for a replacement in early 2016, but the current version gets to celebrate the 90th anniversary, too. Based on the Touring-L trim, the package adds a power sunroof, bright door handles, heated seats for the first two rows, a heated steering wheel, and keyless ignition. Plus, there are special logos on the splash screen and floor mats.

[Source: Autoblog]

Marchionne blames design ‘dummies’ for poor Chrysler 200 reception

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I like the new Chrysler 200. In fact, we have one in the office this week, and every time I see it outside, I think to myself, “That’s a really good looking car.” But truly good automotive design allows form to perfectly blend with function, and that’s where the 200 falls short – so short, in fact, that Chrysler’s midsize sedan has yet to earn a full recommendation from the folks at Consumer Reports.

The problem? That slick roof design. During an interview at the Detroit Auto Show this month, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the 200’s rear roofline compromised ingress and egress from the rear seats, and that’s why CR can’t fully recommend it. “The 200 failed because somebody thought that the rear-seat entry point inside the 200 – which is our fault, by the way – is not up to snuff,” Marchionne said to Automotive News.

Marchionne went on to say that FCA’s designers copied the roofline of the Hyundai Sonata, which “has the same problem.” He continued, “We didn’t copy the car, we copied the entry point to the rear seat. Dummies. I acknowledge it.”

Harsh words, but Marchionne isn’t alone in his sentiments. FCA design boss Ralph Gilles tweeted today, “He is right, we might have gone too aggressively after aero. Which we achieved as it is best in class. No free lunch.”

So yes, the 200 looks good. But following this incident, perhaps a redesign will ditch that sloping roof for something that’s a bit more functional.

[Source: Autoblog]

Next Chrysler minivan spied

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Chrysler isn’t supposed to unveil the next-generation Town & Country until the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, but FCA is hard at work getting the minivan ready for launch. Our spies recently caught prototypes on the road and took copious photos of the interior and exterior, giving us an early idea what to expect from the future family-hauler.

These shots make it pretty clear that FCA’s engineers aren’t done working on the next T&C yet, and all of the camouflage on the outside makes any styling changes very difficult to spot. However, the company is testing the future version with a current one, and the new design appears to have harder angles.

One intriguing picture clearly shows the Dodge logo on the back of the minivan. The Dodge Grand Caravan is supposed to be killed off for 2016, though. We’ve also heard the next-generation minivan will get a plug-in hybrid variant, which was reportedly confirmed last week.

The interior is slightly less concealed than the outside, but development is still ongoing in there, too. It’s easy to spot the familiar infotainment screen from other FCA products, and there’s just a peek at the T&C’s instrument cluster, including the design for the tachometer. A rotary dial gearshift also appears to be in the center console, similar to the Chrysler 200.

Even at this early stage, it appears that FCA is trying to take the next T&C a little more upmarket compared to the current iteration. The move fits well with earlier rumors of the price increasing for the future model.

[Source: Autoblog]

Dodge Dart and Ford Fiesta in latest Consumer Reports reliability study

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Consumer Reports has released its Annual Auto Reliability Survey and the results are, in a word, interesting. While we already covered the score-damaging effects of infotainment systems, there’s another big angle to the data that’s getting some attention – the utterly dismal scores of the Detroit Three’s small car offerings.

The turbocharged Dodge Dart and Chevrolet Cruze, as well as the Ford Fiesta were their respective brands’ lowest-scoring models, a stat that’s made worse by the fact that the American automakers finished 25th, 21st and 23rd, respectively.

That’s not acceptable for The Detroit Free Press‘ auto critic, Mark Phelan, who has penned a scathing critique of the D3’s small car reliability scores, arguing that GM, Ford and Chrysler are “out of excuses.”

Phelan argues that Detroit automakers have been honest about the poor nature of its past econobox offerings, but today things are different, noting the new domestics’ “world-class engineering, electronics and designs” as well as their entertaining character, fuel-efficient powertrains and affordable price should be driving sales.

“Chrysler, Ford and GM have a chance to change how people view their small cars, but not if they get many more quality scores like this,” Phelan writes.