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"The minivan package has always been a sacred thing ... it's basically a life tool" - Ralph Gilles

The stalwart duo of Chrysler minivans will be reduced by half in the vehicle's next generation, with the Dodge Grand Caravan likely going away in favor of a new people-mover-type vehicle. And while the reworked Chrysler Town & Country shouldn't radically shake up the usual minivan formula, a new report from Automotive News suggests that some new technologies and thoughtful updates are in the cards for our Canadian-built van.

Not surprisingly, the next Town & Country is expected to use the automaker's new nine-speed automatic transmission – a gearbox that, despite its rough launch in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, will also be available on the 2015 Chrysler 200. Speaking of the 200, AN says the next T&C is also slated to get optional all-wheel drive. We suspect it could very well be the same system found in Chrysler's new midsize sedan, a unit that features novel full rear axle disconnect. This wouldn't be an all-new thing for the Town & Country, though, as the minivan was offered with AWD throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s. Today, only Toyota offers a minivan with all-wheel drive, the Sienna.

Other T&C updates will include revised, easier-to-use Stow 'N Go seating and the latest version of Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system.

"The minivan package has always been a sacred thing: the function, the customers, the flexibility, It's basically a life tool. We're trying to push the envelope and not disturb what's good about the minivan," Chrysler's head of design, Ralph Gilles, told Automotive News.

On that design note, think back to the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, where Chrysler quietly rolled out the 700C concept (pictured below). The automaker didn't release any details about this pure design concept, and while we originally poked fun at it for looking a bit dated, we wouldn't be surprised to see elements of the 700C show up on the next-generation Town & Country.Automotive News reports that the design of the next minivan is about 95-percent complete.

The sixth-generation model is expected to launch in time for the 2016 model year and continue to be built in Windsor, with the plant getting ready to retool thanks in part to more than $500 million (Canadian) in just-approved government subsidies. Chrysler is also negotiating for further incentives to go along with its own expected investment of $2 billion Canadian.


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  • 33 Comments
      Turbo_S60
      • 10 Months Ago
      I dont understand why dont they kill teh T&C and keep the Grand Caravan. Chrysler is supposed to be more upmarket of Dodge so leave the minivan to Dodge and give Chrysler a nice luxury crossover.
      jtav2002
      • 10 Months Ago
      Wasn't even aware the current gen vans didn't have AWD, since a lot of the previous generations of them did.
      Mchicha
      • 10 Months Ago
      Totally dig the girl
        Gorgenapper
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Mchicha
        People tell me that if I look hard enough, I can see a minivan concept vehicle in there somewhere.
      Love Great Danes
      • 10 Months Ago
      Nice! AWD! Now if we could slip in a diesel!
      Bogie
      • 10 Months Ago
      They're dropping one, but what I think could happen is that another vehicle or two will pop up on the same platform. I foresee a truck on the new platform, they've already shown one before and they've had rumors that a truck would be built at the same plant. My guess is this platform will be the GC, a new Aspen, and a truck.
        RamSport
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Bogie
        After reading many articles about future Chrysler models, it is speculated that the platform used on the next minivan will also include a "lifestyle" midsize pickup, and the full size Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and a Crossover to replace whichever minivan they drop. The new platform, designed by Chrysler is said to be capable of FWD, RWD and AWD motivation.
      Bill Burke
      • 10 Months Ago
      I still maintain that the Dodge Caravan must be the minivan application and the T&C must become a luxury crossover for the Chrysler brand. This makes sense if you factor in the Dodge brand historic demographic and client base, the current Dodge Journey crossover for Dodge which is successful in it's current configuration and the near luxury direction of the Chrysler brand which desperately needs a crossover more than a minivan. Listen to me on this Chrysler.
      Steve
      • 10 Months Ago
      OK. Stop the presses. I agree with Turbo. Keep the Caravan and make over the Towne and Country into a Infiniti Q60 competitor. Chrysler is to becoming up market and the minivan needs to compete with Hondas, Toyotas, etc. The all new Towne and Country will compete with the Infinit Q60 and other up market luxury products. Keep all of the new features on the Caravan and say good bye to the Chrysler mini. Chrysler should also revive the Pacifica nameplate on an all new mid-size CUV on the Dodge Journey platform, but with an all new premium interior and exterior. The Voyager nameplate should be put on an all new compact platform and this will compete with the new Lincoln compact CUV and other premium CUVs. Chrysler needs to organize its house a little better. Dodge products compete with Hondas, Toyotas, Ford, Chevys, etc. and Chrysler products compete with premium brands. Period!
      m_2012
      • 10 Months Ago
      Hopefully they work out the bugs from the Cherokee. Rear axle disconnect - that sounds expensive the fix.
        Roy T.
        • 10 Months Ago
        @m_2012
        The "lack of refinement" is totally a perception issue. The problem is that the 9 speed used "dog clutches" on only a couple of the gears, which have a bit of lag and cause a "thunk" when they engage. This is not a problem or design flaw, just the way dog gears work. The problem with this transmission is that since the other gears use a more traditional torque converter set up, those shifts are much smoother and almost inperceivable, especially when compared to the shifts using the dog clutch gears. This made reviewers think that the shifting was inconsistent, while the transmissions were working as designed. Here's a good article from ttac about this: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/zfs-9-speed-9hp-transmission-puts-dog-clutches-on-the-leash/
          Roy T.
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Roy T.
          M_2012. I suggest you read the article on TTAC, and the salesman (and his manager) should as well. The "Clunk" is perfectly normal with a dog clutch, and if you read the article, you will see that it is NOT a problem with the transmission, just one of perception, which is understandable. I don't blame you for being concerned, but the salespeople need to understand and manage expectations around new technology that is being used to make vehicles more reliable and efficient.
          m_2012
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Roy T.
          Working as designed= undefined. A newly developed transmission should not clunk - ever. I've driven it and its there, no doubt about it. The salesman even suggested we take another out for a spin because he didn't think it was right either. Same thing. They rushed it and built it cheap. Like I said, hopefully they work that out before putting it in other vehicles.
        Aaron N
        • 10 Months Ago
        @m_2012
        Uh what recall is this?
          m_2012
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Aaron N
          Where did I type recall? I was speaking of the lack of refinement professional reviewers have expressed over this power train
      thumerzs
      • 10 Months Ago
      Chrysler should probably stick to perfecting their six (four!) speed transmissions before they go bothering adding another three speeds.
        Card13
        • 10 Months Ago
        @thumerzs
        Considering ZF (one of the most respected transmission companies in the world) designed the transmission, I don't see how its operation is at all related to the performance of previous Chrysler designed transmissions
      mikeybyte1
      • 10 Months Ago
      Still surprised they plan to keep the T&C and ditch the GC. I associate a minivan with more of the "soccer mom / family" type vehicle which seems like a better fit as a Dodge. Dodge, IMO, is a notch below Chrysler in the pecking order of brands. A 7 passenger people mover along the lines of the GMC Acadia is more upscale. They carry less than a minivan. So I would think Chrysler would want that platform for something to go up against the Buick Enclave, Acura MDX, etc. and let Dodge keep the bigger minivan. Then again I am not sure how they are really trying to split Dodge and Chrysler from a marketing and target audience standpoint.
        aruca2526
        • 10 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        Also considering that the Town & Country has a lengthy history of which it was applied to a sedan, convertible, and long-running station wagon. I think an upscale "Town & Country" crossover would make more sense.
        express2day
        • 10 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        I also think it would be a mistake for them to drop the Grand Caravan as a minivan given its longer history as such, traditionally higher sales, etc. The Chrysler T&C would seem to be more appropriate as a CUV.
      carboy55
      • 10 Months Ago
      They couldn't keep mine out of the shop when it onlyb had five speeds.
      ddirkdiggler302
      • 10 Months Ago
      So Chrysler will never go back to being a premium/upscale brand?
        The Wasp
        • 10 Months Ago
        @ddirkdiggler302
        There are countries where well-appointed minivans are very successful luxury vehicles. One of those countries also happens to be the world's largest new vehicle market -- China. Buick has stumbled upon unimaginable riches in China. Chrysler might hope to do the same, even if it's not obvious or very credible in the US.
        aruca2526
        • 10 Months Ago
        @ddirkdiggler302
        I doubt it. They easily could, and should as to not overlap with Dodge, but their downmarket trend has been going on for decades. Arguably, the 300 isn't even the most luxurious vehicle for the manufacturer as I'd say the Grand Cherokee Overland is much nicer.
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