It’s hard to get excited about a minivan, but the next-generation Chrysler Town & Country could very well be a game changer for the company, and for the minivan segment. Expected to debut at an upcoming auto show and go into production next year, the much-needed redesign could include a raft of new tech.
Notable features will include foot-operated rear doors, USB ports in each of the three rows, and significantly more efficient powertrains, according to Automotive News. Will that be enough to push the Chrysler brand out of its current doldrums, and steal some minivan sales back from the burgeoning crossover segment?
The Town & Country will reportedly retain its flexible “Stow n’ Go” seating system, but gain new electrical hardware that will allow Chrysler to install a new Uconnect infotainment system, with an 8.4-inch touchscreen. This will likely be the same Uconnect system already offered in numerous models across the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles range.
In addition to the aforementioned USB ports, the interior will also be equipped with a vacuum cleaner. That’s something Honda originally came up with for the Odyssey, and probably a useful feature in a vehicle designed primarily for hauling kids. Both the rear sliding doors and the tailgate will also reportedly be foot activated.
Chrysler’s minivan is also expected to get a major powertrain update, including an “upgraded” version of the company’s 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and optional electric all-wheel drive, which uses an electric motor to power the rear axle. A plug-in hybrid option is also expected sometime after the launch of other Town & Country models.
The new Town & Country’s design was supposed to be previewed by the 700C concept from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, but development delays have changed a lot of things. Styling will now resemble that of the 200 sedan, which isn’t a bad thing.
Those delays also mean that the current Town & Country is pretty outdated, and in desperate need of a redesign. We’ll see if the new model proves merely adequate, or whether it can cause more buyers to give minivans a second look.