Category Archives: Chrysler

Chrysler Portal Previews Millennial Infused Future

FCA is out to stake a claim in the wallets and minds of Millennial car buyers, and has unveiled the first piece of this Millennial infused future with the Chrysler Portal concept minivan.

Set to debut later today at CES in Las Vegas, the Portal is an all electric minivan that claims to have all the things that millennials crave in a vehicle. This apparently includes futuristic Chrysler Portal roof viewstyling that looks like it lept off the pages of a Syd Mead drawing catalog, while also showcasing the renewed levels of flair that FCA has unleashed over the past few years. The Portal is a one box design, but manages to cram plenty of LED lighting, as well as copious amounts of glass into its overall shape.

The Portal’s 118.2 inch wheelbase is slightly smaller than the Chrysler Pacifica’s, but the Chrysler Portal rear viewfront fascia still looks slick, and neatly transistions into a side profile that incorporates massive sliding doors before leading out to a more function oriented rear end. While the Portal as a whole will most likely not make the leap to production, select elenents could eventually make their mark on future FCA models.

The interior of the Portal is where things really start to get interesting. A minimalist dashboard layout is accented by a long top mounted LCD Portal interiorscreen which is complimented by a more conventionally placed center mounted screen. FCA claims that the screens can be configured by occupants to help increase the interior’s flexibility. The Portal also features 10 docking stations, and FCA worked with Panasonic on enhancing usability, with the possibility that the tech giant could become a future supplier for FCA.

In addition, the seats are mounted on rails. and can be moved fore and aft, fold flat into the floor, or removed completly for maximum cargo capability. The flat floor sits above a 100 kWh battery pack which allows the Portal to have a 250 mile driving range.

A 350 kWh fast charger can fully replenish the pack in less than 20 minutes, but range drops to 150 miles as a result. A single electric motor provides the motovation, but FCA did not reveal exact performance data for it.

FCA claims that the Portal is capable of SAE Level Three autonomus driving which means occupants can transfer driving duties to the concept under certain conditions when out on the freeway. Chrysler also claims that as self-driving technology advances, the Portal can be upgraded accordingly to allow it to stay fresh. Facial and speech recgonition technology allows the Portal to recognize individual drivers, so it can tailor the driving enviorment to their tastes.

Look for more information about the Chrysler Portal concept to be revealed later today when it makes its formal debut at CES.

FCA, Google To Use Pacificas As Test Beds For Autonomus Technology

FCA and Googles recently minted partnership towards autonomous technology will include several Pacifica Hybrid prototypes that will serve as rolling test beds for the technology.

According to the report which was released by Bloomberg several dozen self driving vehicles will be developed as part of the first phase of this partnership, before expanding further as the alliance between the two camps solidifies. This is the first time that Google has partnered with a major automaker, and FCA’s tie-in is no surprise with Bloomberg citing a quote by FCA chairman John Elkann who revealed that the company should work with “these new industry participants” instead of competing with them.

Furthermore FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne highlighted hinted at a possible partnership with Google in December during a seperate interview with assembled media. A secondary benefit to this partnership is that Google will greatly augment its fleet of prototype vehicles. The tech giant developed its own fleet of self driving vehicles in 2014, but their limited range and odd styling impeded their capabilities as real world test beds. With this agreement FCA will supply Google with the vehicles, and in exchange the company will provide FCA key technology to help it remain competitive against rivals especially when it comes to self driving capability. This technology could possibly make its apperance on the upcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer before trickling down to other FCA vehicles.

 

Autoinfoquest Reviews The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Press Kit

It’s not too often that we get a press kit that garners a unique review opportunity, but with FCA recently handing out a press kit that doubled as a board game at the 2016 North American International Auto Show earlier this week. We decided to see how a board game that was designed to be a marketing tool would work, so we rolled up our sleeves, pulled out the board game, and sought to find out turn by turn.

Known formally as “The Race To The Family Reunion” The game centers around getting your 2017 Pacifica from one end of the board to the other, as you also try to beat your 20160116_171144opponent to the “family reunion”. The fore-mentioned board is a travel sized unit that folds out to roughly the size of a bench type table (after getting it out of its suitcase style carrying case). The two compact work tables here at the Autoinfoquest offices managed to fit the board like a glove, and it also proved to be a fun playing surface with colorful images of Detroit and Metro Detroit landmarks including the Spirit Of Detroit Statue as well as the Detroit Zoo.

The game can be played with 2-4 players, so I invited my girlfriend Emily over to the office to serve as my opponent.  FCA says that the game is suitable for players that are 3 and up, but with the small die, we recommend leaving this game to kids 6 and up. Game play is relatively quick and easy to understand with your turn ending on the last blank space your 20160116_171243colored Pacifica piece lands on. Landing on a space with an exclamation point forces you to draw a card, and perform the action as listed. Some cards allow you to move forward 3 to 4 spaces, while others either send you backwards, or in rare instances back to start. The cards themselves serve as the main marketing tools here, highlighting each of the Pacifica’s various traits with the all new UConnect Theater system making two card related appearances.

As mentioned earlier, the pace of game play is relatively quick, so me and Emily decided to add a rule where each player had to roll either the same number of spaces or less to advance to the finish line. This not only made it more fun, but also allowed the game to last a little while longer which was a big plus.

Overall the game managed to do quite well in both its intended purpose, as well as its fun factor which is rare for a formal marketing tool. Hopefully more automakers will embrace the creativity that FCA has always had with its press kits, and we look forward to seeing what the automakers will have in store for the 2016 Chicago Auto Show in February.

Chrysler Debuts 2017 Pacifica, Hybrid Power And Renewed Vigor Target Younger Buyers

Following a slew of spy photographs and several leaks that took place just before its official debut, Chrysler has formally unveiled the 2017 Pacifica minivan which has a new generation of younger buyers in its sights as it aims to standout from sales stealing crossover vehicles.

The moniker was last used on the 2004-2008 Pacifica but unlike that ill-conceived and ultimately doomed to fail CUV, the minivan aims to reinvent itself while also wiping some of the Pacifica’s past sins away from its rap sheet. It all starts with the exterior styling and while the front and rear fascias do look like they were designed by two separate boardrooms, we give praise to the front end which shares much of its styling inspiration IMG_0122with the Chrysler 200 sedan. Its much more elegant than the function oriented boxy look that defined the Town & Country, and it does a good job standing out in a crowd especially at night thanks to its LED daytime running lights. The side profile is much more athletic looking than before (another 200 inspired cue) with Chrysler designers actually concealing the lines for the sliding door tracks in the rear quarter side glass which enhances the overall effect. The back end is still a function oriented exercise in restraint, but the new tail light lenses are a notable improvement over the old units especially with the design of the reverse lamp elements. Wheel choices have also been changed too with the range topping model now sporting 20-inch hoops (quite the upgrade from the 17-inchers that the last Town & Country had.)

A persistent weakness that dogged the previous generation Town & Country was its interior. Lackluster materials, odd ergonomics, and low build quality helped keep the Town & Country several steps behind rivals such as the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey even after a refresh in 2011. The Pacifica aims to steer that troubled ship back to smoother waters, and introduces an all new cabin that finally brings it up to par with its Asian rivals. The interior design shares much of its inspiration with the Chrysler 200 IMG_0131(see a theme here) and the end result is a cabin that is much richer, handsome, and tech filled than ever before. The plastics are also much softer, and remove many of the sharp edges that defined the old van , this is especially true with regards to the plastic for the steering wheel mounted airbag cover (a notorious offender in that regard.) The leather seats are much more comfortable, and promise better support than before while also adding cooled capability for the first time ever. A 7-inch color display screen is nestled in the instrument cluster, and helps drivers find out many aspects of vehicle information at a glance, while the 8.4 inch touchscreen infotainment system now comes equipped with a new version of Uconnect which is faster and more precise than before.

Along with this new found sharpness, buyers that want to keep the little ones entertained will be pleased with the all new Uconnect Theater system. the system allows passengers to watch movies, play games that are built in to the system, and also connect personal devices (such as smartphones) that can surf the internet and stream content to either of the rear mounted 10-inch high definition touchscreens. The Pacifica also has teen drivers in mind and features new KeySense technology that lowers the radio volume, limits speed, and even mutes the audio when a seat belt is not properly buckled in. KeySense also goes a few steps further and not only prevents certain safety features from being turned off, but also allows parents to block certain Sirius XM channels. The Pacifica also debuts hands free operation for both the liftgate and the sliding doors which is done by waving your foot either under the liftgate or the sliding doors.

Performance hardware for the Pacifica is largely carried over from the older Town & Country, but the 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 has been tweaked and now produces 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque with both figures being the best in their class. The Pacifica Hybrid on the other hand is the world’s first hybrid minivan, and aims to bring fuel IMG_0160economy and driving range to the top of its priority list. It achieves this by debuting an all new-16 kWh lithium-ion battery which helps the van achieve a 30 mile driving range when placed in pure electric mode, while also achieving an impressive 80 MPGe. This is more than rivals, and leaves the hybrid in a niche that it currently has to itself (at least until Toyota and Honda catch up.) Regardless of which engine is selected, both are mated to Chrysler’s familiar nine speed automatic, and will eventually come equipped with a new stop/start feature that will make its appearance shortly after its initial launch.

When it does make its official appearance on dealer lots in spring, the standard Pacifica will be available in five trim levels ( LX, Touring, Touring L, Touring L Plus, Limited, and range topping Platinum trim) with the Hybrid only featuring two trim levels. Overall the 2017 Pacifica is quite an improvement, and retains the innovative spirit that defined the original minivan when Chrysler invented the segment itself back in the 1980’s. Pricing information was not released during the company’s Detroit press conference, but with both a Limited and Platinum model being offered, look for the van to see a noticeable uptick in price with the bulk of sales being relegated to the Touring and its two long wheel base variants. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for more live coverage from the 2016 North American International Auto Show.