A very early and pretty rough prototype of the new Chrysler Town and Country has been photographed. The minivan has baggy plastic covers all over it apart from a few bits that have to remain visible such as the lights and grille. Some of the interior parts look as though they come from all along the Fiat and Chrysler ranges which implies that this is one of the first 2017 mules for testing.
The Town and Country has one of the most historic names in the industry which means it has big boots to fill. It will appear in 2016 and will be the only minivan that Chrysler has on the market. The Dodge Caravan will no longer be produced that year and there will be a three row crossover to replace it which will be rather like the Buick Enclave or GMC Arcadia with regards to size.
This means that the Town and Country will need to make sure that it has a relevant place in the showroom. Chrysler understands this and they will be giving the van a plug-in hybrid powertrain option. It is hoped that this will enable it to stand up in a market and it would hopefully keep the name going which is important for a descendent of the vehicle that started the first modern minivan.
There is not enough given away in the pictures for a conclusion to be drawn about what platform is going to be used. The spy photographers got a picture of the car next to a Dodge Grand Caravan and so it is possible to compare the size, which looks the same although the roof looks lower. The floor also looks as though it is lower and this might mean that the second row of Stow n Go seating which folds into the floor may not be included in this model.
It is possible that the current platform could be used again but it is thought that a lighter one is more likely. It could use things from the three row crossovers that are due out at the same time. It even looks like it may have a crossover type look as the roofline goes down to a rear window that is steeply raked. The front is not so bulky as most minivans too. It is possible that the sliding doors may remain but it looks like they certainly want to have a good go at making it a stylish vehicle.
The prototype does not look so much like a new car at the moment as a mix of different Dodge, Fiat, Chrysler and Ram parts. The headlights and grille look like those on a Chrysler 200 and the backlights from a Dodge Durango. There is also a Dodge steering wheel and mirrors in the doors from the Dodge Challenger.
It is very early to start guessing what the platform will be. However, Chrysler has said that there will be a plug in hybrid powertrain. However there is no US market equivalent in the Fiat or Chrysler range which means that it is a bit of a mystery at present. If the weight is low there could be a four cylinder engine which might be turbocharged and paired up with the electric.
It is also possible that they may go for a version of the Pentastar V6 but with a hybrid part. It could also be used for the version of the van that is not a hybrid. There will be front wheel drive as standard and it is expected that there will be an option of all wheel drive as well which is not able to be offered in the current version because the Stow n Go seats take up too much space. It is expected that the transmission will be the ZF sources nine speed automatic used in the Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler 200.
The new vehicle will see competition from the Kia Sedona, Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest and the Honda Odyssey. It is expected to arrive in 2016 and then be on sale as a 2017 model. It is too early to come up with accurate approximations about the price but it is possible that it might be aimed at a more luxury market than it is currently or for the same $30,000 base price as most of the competitors have.