Will the Pacifica carry on the stodgy image of the Town & Country? Chrysler is trying to recast the Pacifica.
"The minivan is still the best tool," said Kuniskis. "SUVs and crossovers are great at certain things, but they're not the best tool for the family that needs to efficiently move people and stuff. That's why [the minivan] still exists today."
'Stodgy old minivan'
The Pacifica's new look was a purposeful departure from minivans of the past, said Ralph Gilles, FCA's global head of design.
"As a designer, what kept coming up was the image problem with the minivan," said Gilles, citing FCA's consumer research. "It was loud and clear: People are embarrassed to drive these things. I don't want people to see a stodgy old minivan. I don't want them to just see a solution, a product that solves the issue that I didn't even know I had."
At a meeting with journalists last month, Gilles mentioned a ribald joke he said he and other designers came up with to show just how much of a departure the Pacifica is from FCA's traditional minivan designs: "I think even single guys can get laid in this thing."
The key for the Pacifica, he said, is to replace consumers' memories of earlier minivans.
"We can't afford to have them see the '80s minivan with the wood paneling on the side," Kuniskis said. "We can't afford them to think about the van that maybe they rode in growing up."