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Posts Tagged ‘minivans’

First Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Redefining the minivan – will it win back American family buyers?

by on Mar.21, 2016

Perhaps no other type of vehicle does a better job of delivering what it offers than a minivan.

Running from the Southern California Coast towards Lake Elsinore, the Ortega Highway is the sort of torturously twisting two-lane highways that motorcycles and sports cars love. Minivans travel it at their own peril, and yet, we’re planning to run nearly the full 111.5 miles of what’s official known as CA-74 this drizzly, late winter morning.

If we were driving Chrysler’s old Town & Country model, or just about any conventional minivan, for that matter, you might have reason to question our choice of routes. But this is our first chance to drive the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.

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No automaker is more closely identified with the minivan. The Detroit side of Fiat Chrysler invented the modern people-move back in 1984, and for years it struggled to meet demand, U.S. sales at one point nudging 2 million a year. These days, the numbers are down for nearly three-quarters and a number of one-time competitors, including Ford and General Motors have dropped out of the minivan market. So, some question whether the new Chrysler Pacifica is the segment’s last great hope.

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Spy Shots: 2017 Chrysler Town & Country

Down to one.

by on Jan.05, 2015

Chrysler has some big changes in its minivan plans, with a new Town & Country coming for 2017. Photos by Jim Dunne: Autospy.

Chrysler is hard at work preparing an all-new version of the Town & Country van, set for introduction as a 2017 model.

The much-anticipated debut will cap some major changes at Chrysler. At one point, the maker offered a variety of different – though largely badge-engineered – minivans, including not only the T&C but the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, as well. From 2017, only the one model will remain, the maker developing a very different sort of “people mover” to replace the Dodge offering.

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The big challenge for FCA US LLC – the new name for the merged Fiat-Chrysler – will be to maintain demand for even its one remaining classic minivan. Once controlling more than two-thirds of the market, it has come under withering assault from a handful of foreign competitors, notably the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. At the same time, the minivan market itself has shrunk drastically since its mid-1990s peak.

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Toyota Aims to “Redefine” Urban Utility with U2 Concept

A “flexible, functional gadget.”

by on Sep.10, 2014

Toyota's Urban Utility concept will make its public debut in NY City later this month.

With millions of people from Boston to Berlin and Beijing moving back into cities, automakers are trying to rethink what that might mean for the automobile. One possible example is Toyota’s new Urban Utility concept.

Also known as the U2, the prototype is meant to “redefine urban utility,” the maker says, by balancing the need for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles with those that can continue to appeal to “Americans’ love of adventure.”

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Developed at the Japanese maker’s Calty Design Research Center in Newport Beach, California, the U2 adopts an extremely flexible “architecture” that allows for a wide range of cargo and seating configurations, a fold-back roof, even a tailgate that can turn into a ramp.

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TDB Brings You the New York International Auto Show

Speed, power and beauty all converge in NYC.

by on Apr.16, 2014

The New York International Auto Show has called it a wrap for 2014. The show featured dozens of new vehicle introductions as well as the latest in vehicle safety, efficiency and infotainment technologies. The show is a must-attend for the industry’s prominent executives, who lend insight and context to what the vehicles mean to the auto companies and consumers.

The 114th NYIAS is now open to the public as well as the media, and it is still making news. TheDetroitBureau.com is wringing out every last drop of product information and breaking news from the Big Apple. (more…)

VW Finally Packs it Up for the Aging Camper Van

The longest-running model in automotive history.

by on Sep.16, 2013

A well-restored British camper van.

After more than 60 years in production. Volkswagen is finally preparing to retire the classic VW Camper finally and for good.

Originally designed in the late 1940s in post-World War II Germany, the Camper has been in production since 1950 and the vehicle’s storied history makes it the longest produced model in automotive history, according to Volkswagen. It has gone by several different names over the years, i

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It became an icon of flower power in the U.S. in the 1960s when it – and the original Beetle became two of the hippie movement’s favorite forms of motorized transport. Sales of new Campers basically ended in the U.S. in 1979 when VW stopped building them at plants in Germany. However, the vans, with their distinctive shape and windows, are still prized by collectors and live on especially in Southern California where well-preserved Campers routinely can be seen roaming the region’s freeways.

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First Look: Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan

Compact family car concept updates outgoing Golf Plus.

by on Sep.09, 2013

VW's Golf Sportsvan Concept gives a good hint of what's to come with the Golf Plus successor.

It’s going to be a busy week in Frankfurt as automakers from around the world roll out some of their hottest new products to kick off the new model-year. And nobody is going to be busier than the Volkswagen Group which will hold its annual group event Monday night offering attending media a first glimpse at a good dozen of those new offerings – at least one from each of the German maker’s myriad brands.

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Among the more intriguing models will be the Golf Sportsvan concept. Don’t let the show car designation fool you, however, as this is a very, very thinly disguised version of the production people-mover that will soon replace the outgoing Golf Plus.

It’s part of the Volkswagen strategy to flood the market with all manner of body styles filling in every possible niche segment – the Sportsvan set to become the third body variant off the all-new VW Golf that has become a slam dunk in an otherwise struggling European auto market.

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Honda Hopes to Clean up with 2014 Odyssey

Minivan gets minivac.

by on Mar.26, 2013

The Honda Odyssey family mover now has a family-ready vacuum built in.

If we said the new 2014 Odyssey minivan sucked, Honda might just take that as a compliment. The updated Odyssey Touring Elite model debuting at the New York Auto Show will introduce a new feature likely to have significant appeal to family buyers – the first in-car vacuum.

The HondaVAC is one of several new features being introduced on the 2014 Honda Odyssey which has gained steady momentum in an otherwise shrinking market segment.

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Minivan sales are currently less than half what they peaked at a decade ago, but there is still a sizable demand among family buyers who see them as the most functional and efficient people-movers on the market. The challenge is coming up with a consistent stream of new innovations.

“Honda is once again showcasing its reputation for innovation with HondaVAC, and its ability to provide true value to our customers,” proclaimed Michael Accavitti, vice president of marketing operations at American Honda.

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Honda Unveiling Updated 2014 Odyssey in NY

Japanese maker hints of “innovative new features.”

by on Mar.19, 2013

Honda will give the Odyssey a minor makeover.

While there’s been plenty of talk about the demise of the minivan, the classic people-mover segment continues to attract plenty of buyers who need space and flexibility, and Honda hopes to expand the appeal of its popular Odyssey model with a mild makeover it plans to unveil at the New York Auto Show later this month.

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The Japanese maker is promising to add some “innovative new features” when it launches the 2014 Honda Odyssey at the Jacob Javits convention center. Precisely what that means, the maker isn’t saying, though minivan buyers put a premium on such features as seating and storage, as well as fuel economy.

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Ford Grows New Tourneo Van Family

U.S. will see it as the Transit Connect Wagon.

by on Mar.05, 2013

Ford's new Tourneo Courier minivan.

Ford has been completely updating its people-mover family – what Americans prefer to call minivans – in recent months, and the latest version of the Tourneo Courier is making its debut at this week’s Geneva Motor Show.

Why does that matter to American motorists? Because it will land in the States bearing the Transit Connect Wagon badge.

“Tourneo stands for smart, do-anything vehicles that are designed for people who live life to the fullest,” boasted Barb Samardzich, vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe. “However big your personal mission, we have a Tourneo people-mover that will help you squeeze the most out of every moment – whether that’s cycling with friends or a day with the kids.”

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Completing the updated Tourneo family and set for a European launch in the mid-2014 model-year, the maker contends the Courier will have a number of advantages over key competitors, including class-leading space, practicality, fuel economy and safety features.

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Routan to Remain in VW Line-Up

Production to restart by next summer.

by on Dec.19, 2012

The VW Routan has failed to generate much interest in the weak minivan market.

Despite having scuttled plans to produce a modern-day interpretation of the legendary Microbus, Volkswagen hasn’t given up on the U.S. minivan market – but odds are that many potential buyers don’t even know about the VW Routan.

The maker’s current minivan model, assembled for VW by Chrysler, has certainly not set the market on fire, leading to a shutdown of production earlier this year. But the German maker insists the Routan will be back, with new models set to roll out of Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario minivan plant by next summer.

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Volkswagen’s plan is “to offer the 2013 model year Routan,” spokesman Scott Vaizin told Automotive News, though for now there’s apparently enough inventory to satisfy the market’s limited demand. He added that it’s “a safe bet” production will resume in 2013, as well.

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