Minivans. These people haulers have been around for years and for a while were some of the most popular vehicles on North American roads. Then came the "crossover," a combination of car and SUV, and the minivan segment in which an abundant number of automakers had participated started dwindling down until today there's only a handful of models available.
One of the more interesting is from Chrysler, via its Pacifica - a name that once applied to one of the early crossovers, a seven seat people hauler that was more a long and a tad taller car than a minivan. I reviewed the first Pacifica back in 2007 and thought it was pretty neat - a decent carrier of people and not necessarily their stuff. But that Pacifica is long dead and the new one comes down firmly into the minivan segment - and it also offers what the company says is the first hybrid minivan on the market.
That's the version that Chrysler sent me to drive for a week, a model that starts at $56,495 CAD, which is surely not chicken feed. Granted, the Pacifica actually starts at $36,595, but that's still a bit of a premium compared to other minivans on the market. The Toyota Sienna, for example - according to Toyota's Canadian website - starts at $33,690 and tops out around $51,715, while the Honda Odyssey starts at $34,800 and tops out about $52,156 (also sans extras and taxes). Kia's Sedona make the gap even wider: a starting price of $27,995 that rises to about $46,995 with the top trim level. more...
The Chrysler 200 has taken a major step forward for 2015, from the relatively bland and uninteresting previous model. The new one is handsome, with an attractive and comfortable interior, and it's also pretty nice to drive.
(Click on the image to open a slideshow)
Oh, it isn't perfect, of course. For one thing, I wouldn't have minded a steering column that tilts down more than the current one, because no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find a perfect driving position, but that was really my biggest quibble. So overall Chrysler has done a pretty decent job with this mid-sized sedan
Chrysler says the 200 is meant to appeal to "mid-size sedan customers who have earned a little luxury in their life, but demand value for their money." They've pretty well nailed it, too, though since there are plenty of other great cars in this segment their work at carving out a sales juggernaut is definitely cut out for them. Still, they're off to a good start and only time will tell if the sales will reward Chrysler. more....
Chrysler 200 –Little Big Car
Chrysler's new 200 could be the perfect vehicle for Doctor Who, if the popular BBC sci-fi show character were ever to look for a conventional mode of transportation.
Why? Well, despite it being a rather conventional four door sedan it's similar to the Doctor's preferred method of transportation – the TARDIS – because it appears bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Okay, that may be an optical illusion, but hop inside this midsize sedan and you're in a roomy cabin that feels even roomier than it is. more...
Chrysler's Aspen a Big, Brawny Hybrid
Is a HEMI hybrid an oxymoron or a pander to political correctness? And is the idea of any large SUV being a comparative gas sipper really feasible with today's technology?
Read on and I'll tell you about my week in the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, a big and luxurious hauler. And while I don't think the approximately $8000 premium ($37,965 base vs. $46,120, though you get more standard equipment on the hybrid) it costs to get into a hybrid justifies the gas savings, the Aspen hybrid did save me some gas in my unscientific calculations: instead of costing an arm and a leg to fill it to merely cost an arm and a thigh.
Maybe you could say it brought a thigh of relief… more...
The Pacifica won't haul as big a screen as a real, tall minivan, but my tester (a "Limited" model with all wheel drive – front drive is standard) could carry six people very comfortably, which makes it ideal as an amateur or professional taxicab, limo, or what have you. So while it may not be as utilitarian as a "minivan" or "SUV," it beats many of them in the passenger comfort and fun to drive departments. To me, it embodies the term "crossover" much better than the breed of SUV's that car companies call crossovers, undoubtedly because they're hoping to fool certain people into thinking they aren't evil environment-rapists and thereby cut down on the picket lines outside dealerships. more...