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:

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The Avenir trim level joins the Buick Envision lineup for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Buick

The redesigned 2021 Buick Envision builds on the success of its little brother, the 2020 Buick Encore GX, giving customers more premium features and making the two-row SUV more competitive in its class.

Buick will sell the 2021 Envision, which slots below the three-row Enclave in the Buick lineup, in trim levels with more distinctions between them than the previous generation Envision offered, including the Preferred, Essence, and Avenir grades. Preferred and Essence trim levels are available with a Sport Touring package, which gives the car darkened exterior finishes and dark 20-inch wheels.

The Envision Avenir is distinguished by an exclusive mesh grille design, with tinted chrome trim and unique 20-inch wheels with a Pearl Nickel finish.

2021 Buick Envision Avenir

Photo courtesy of Buick

Each Envision comes with a more athletic body design for the new generation. At the front, there are LED headlights with LED daytime running light signatures. LED taillamps are at the back. Welcome/walkaway lighting and animation is activated via key fob.

Buick has put a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood of the Envision that makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Push/pull buttons shift the vehicle in the place of a traditional shifter.

All-wheel drive (AWD) is available. Model with AWD get selectable drive modes: Tour, AWD, Snow/Ice, and Sport. Front-wheel drive models have all those with the exception of the AWD mode. Hill descent control is standard on AWD Envisions. A continuous damping control suspension is available on top-tier Envision Avenir models.

Buyers can get their Envision's interior with either a light or dark interior color scheme. Perforated leather upholstery is available on Envision Essence models. Heated front seats are standard on Essence and available on Preferred. Heated and ventilated front seats, diamond-quilted perforated leather upholstery, driver's seat massage, heated rear outboard seats, navigation, and wireless smartphone charging are standard on the Envision Avenir.

The Envision is the first model in the Buick lineup to incorporate the company's new 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen, which faces more toward the driver than the front seat passenger. A covered compartment below the instrument panel is home to the SUV's wireless charging pad, SD card slot, accessory outlet, and USB ports. Amazon Alexa, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are available.

The system also has Buick-exclusive apps including Reese's Book Club and NCAA March Madness.

The dual-wing armrest is back by popular demand on the center console between the front seats. A heated steering wheel and air ionizer are standard on Essence and Avenir, and available on Preferred versions of the SUV. A power moonroof is available on Essence and Avenir models.

The five-passenger Envision has a 60/40 split-folding rear seat that can fold flat. There is 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first-row seats and 25.2 cubic feet behind the second-row seats. A hands-free programmable power liftgate is standard on Essence and Avenir and available on Preferred models.

Buick is making the SUV available with the Buick Drive Confidence Plus package, which includes a suite of nine standard advanced safety and driver assistance technologies like forward colliosn alert, front pedestrian braking, and rear park assist. Additional available driver assistance technologies include HD Surround Vision, enhanced automatic parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.

The 2021 Buick Envision is on sale now, with a starting MSRP of $32,995.

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"The Lady and The Dale" shows off the history of a three-wheeled car and an investment scheme gone awry.

Photo courtesy of HBO

Liz Carmichael claimed to be a lot of things. She said she was the widow of a NASA engineer, a farmer's daughter, and a mother of five. In reality, she was none of those things. The truth was a little less straightforward.

Carmichael was born in the late 1930s as Jerry Dean Michael, a male. By 1961 she would be wanted by police for alleged involvement in a counterfeiting operation. Carmichael fathered five children with Vivian Barrett Michael, who she would introduce as her secretary rather than spouse or partner. These exploits were just the beginning.

The Lady and the Day "The Lady and The Dale" will debut on January 31 on HBO.Photo courtesy of HBO

The Lady and the Dale

A new, four-part documentary series from Emmy-winning producers Mark and Jay Duplass ("Room 104") follows the story of Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, the founder of Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation. During the fuel crisis of the 1970s, Carmichael was living as a woman, taking the world by storm with the promotion of a fuel-efficient three-wheeled car named The Dale.

The Dale was designed and built by Dale Clifft. Before meeting Carmichael, Clifft had built the original vehicle from aluminum tubing and covered it in naugahyde. Carmichael came along and served as the vehicle's hype woman, using her promotional zeal to build up the vehicle's design and engineering and gaining investors putting more than 100 employees on the payroll.

Soon, the media took notice and began digging into The Dale and Carmichael. What resulted next is the story that is captured on film.

"The Lady and The Dale" mixes animation, archival footage, and interviews with Liz's family members and gender scholars, including Susan Stryker.

The series debuts with two back-to-back episodes on Sunday, January 31, at 9:00 p.m. ET with new subsequent Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET. The Lady and The Dale will premiere on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max. Watch the trailer below.

The Lady and the Dale: Official Trailer | HBO www.youtube.com

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