Chicago Auto Show 2020

Chrysler launches major Pacifica refresh for 2021, offering AWD option

Chrysler has thoroughly refreshed the Pacifica for the 2021 model year innculdig a new available all-wheel drive system.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Chrysler is launching a major refresh of its Pacifica minivan by offering an all-wheel-drive model, improving the styling, adding new technology, and making a host of advanced safety features standard equipment.

The improvements in the 2021 Pacifica, unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday, are apparent at first glance.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica The new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica (shown here in the Pinnacle model) will offer America's most capable minivan with all-wheel-drive and the most standard safety features in the industry. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The grille is accented by converging hockey stick-shaped LED daytime running lights. That same hockey stick theme is carried through in the body sculpture along the side panels back to the rear of the van. It repeats again in the lighting that now stretches across the length of the rear hatch. The styling mutes the van design and provides a sense of fluid movement.

The 2021 Pacifica is the first van from Chrysler to have an all-wheel-drive option since the 2004 Town & Country. Chrysler designed the system so that it saves fuel by turning on only when vehicle sensors detect a need. Drivers don't have to push any buttons or change settings. It delivers hard acceleration, indicating a need for more grip and power, when the electronic stability systems starts to detect slipping or a loss of control, or in fast, tight turns where extra torque is required. The system also looks for other cues, such as cold exterior temperature and windshield wiper use.

Chrysler will make the AWD option available in the current Pacifica through the end of the model year to satisfy customer demand for the option.

The new Pacifica gets a dramatically improved interior highlighted by a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen, the largest among minivans. That's 20-percent bigger than the current model. It will be the first of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' vehicles to get the fifth-generation Uconnect infotainment system.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Chrysler has managed to make the Pacifica more serene with a new Pinnacle trim level that features near-luxury level appointments.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

To keep track of passengers, the minivan has a camera that provides a view of rear-facing child seat occupants, split-view display and unique "zoom-to-seat" feature. The Honda Odyssey currently has similar camera technology, but without the split-view display and zoom feature.

Chrysler is addressing customer complaints by making the van quieter by adding acoustic windshield glass and thicker sliding door glass to all Pacifica models. The Limited, Pinnacle, and all plug-in hybrid models get acoustic front side glass.

With its refreshed design, the automaker's strategy is to give the Pacifica a makeover so that it looks more like an SUV – the most popular segment of the U.S. auto market. Chrysler, which invented the minivan and has sold more than 15 million over the decades, is trying to add some emotion to the segment.

The automaker also wants to create some distance between the more upscale Pacifica and its budget-friendly minivan sibling, the Chrysler Voyager.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica The Pacifica Pinnnacle comes with pillows for rear seat passengers. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's not that the company expects consumers to trade their SUVs for minivans. Rather it's targeting buyers who are looking to replace sedans but want a practical family hauler that looks interesting and provides both amenities and comfort.

Part of this strategy includes launching the Pinnacle trim line that can compete with the interiors of three-row luxury SUVs.

The interior features quilted Nappa leather bolstering in the seats. Stitching accents the elegant caramel color leather of the seating and interior panels. The rear seats come with additional stitched leather pillows.

Exterior touches include a satin carbon grille and platinum chrome on all exterior edgings, moldings, and badging. A new Pinnacle side door nameplate in the Pacifica font is also platinum chrome.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica The new 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen is seamlessly placed in the dashboard. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

There are 12 USB Type A and Type C ports to keep a bevy of devices charged. And there's plenty of small item storage space that is prime for those devices.

The Pinnacle comes with what Chrysler is calling an "ultra" console. It provides 13.65 liters of overall storage, about a third more than the current Pacifica. Almost 90% of that area is covered. Additionally, there are second-row storage bins in the floor.

Chrysler is packing the Pacifica with what it says are the most standard safety features in the segment. Those include forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking. The braking also works when sensors detect pedestrians in front of the vehicle. There is also adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, the latter of which taps the electronic power steering to assist the driver with corrective action if the vehicle starts to drift.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Chrysler will offer the 2021 Pacifica with multi-angle view cameras that keep an eye on passengers.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Engine choices won't change for the new model year. The van has a V6 gasoline engine that delivers 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. There also is the plug-in hybrid powertrain that offers an all-electric range of more than 30 miles and a total range of more than 500 miles.

The 2021 Pacifica will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year. Chrysler will release pricing information closer to start of sales.

Check out a peek inside the Pacifica from the floor of the Chicago Auto Show:

www.youtube.com

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New plug-in hybrid SUV

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe starts at $59,495

The Grand Cherokee 4xe is premium, inside and out.

Jeep/Stellantis

Last year, Jeep electrified the Wrangler, its most iconic model, with an innovative plug-in hybrid powertrain (PHEV). Not long after, the brand announced a similar version of the Grand Cherokee. The upscale electrified off-roader offers plenty of standard tech and features, solid safety equipment, and 25 miles of all-electric range. Today, Jeep announced pricing for the SUV, which will start arriving in dealers this spring.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The 4xe powertrain delivers up to 25 miles of all electric range. Jeep/Stellantis

Pricing for the 4xe lineup starts at:

  • Grand Cherokee 4xe: $59,495
  • Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe: $64,280
  • Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe: $67,555
  • Grand Cherokee Summit 4xe: $71,615
  • Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4xe: $76,095
The Grand Cherokee 4xe comes with a turbocharged 2.0-,item inline-four that combines with two electric motors for a total output of 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The 4xe powertrain includes plug-in hybrid technology, which enables all-electric driving. In the Grand Cherokee, there's up to 25 miles of electric range, which could enable a completely gas-free ownership experience for people with short commutes. Once the electric range is exhausted the vehicle functions like a normal hybrid, and the batteries must be recharged to replenish range.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The Grand Cherokee joins the Wrangler 4xe in Jeep's electrified lineup.Jeep/Stellantis

Fortunately, the 4xe's premium starting price buys a premium SUV, even at the base level. Standard features include Capri leather upholstery, a 10.1-inch touchscreen and 10.25-inch passenger display. A dual-pane panoramic moonroof and heated power seats are also standard. A full suite of advanced safety systems come standard as well. All 4xe trims come with full-speed forward collision warnings, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, LED headlights, and more.

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Dream job alert

You could become Dodge's Chief Donut Maker

You can apply to become a Dodge ambassador with some great perks.

Dodge

One lucky person is about to win the car enthusiast's job of a lifetime, though only for a year. Beginning today, Dodge is accepting applications for its new and temporary Chief Donut Maker

If the title alone isn't enough to make the job sound appealing, the benefits are seemingly endless. The lucky new Dodge "employee" will pick up a $150,000 salary, along with the opportunity to drive an SRT Hellcat company car for the year. Additionally, the winner will participate in all manner of racing and car-related events, take courses at Radford Racing School, and get a load of Dodge-branded clothing.

Dodge is Hiring a Chief Donut Maker www.youtube.com

If you're reading this and thinking it sounds like a blast - you're right. There's a catch, however, which comes in the form of an intense consideration process that culminates in a racing event with a pro driver on a closed course. A panel of judges will evaluate the video entries, and wrestler Bill Goldberg will oversee the race between the top ten finalists. Dodge says the series of eliminations will air like a reality TV show, with the winner being revealed in the final episode.

Today is the opening day of the application period. You have until February 28 to submit your short video, which can be a maximum of two minutes. Get busy making your video and head here to submit it before the deadline.

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