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Is this the 2016 minivan? and other updates

by David Zatz on

Sources within Auburn Hills have confirmed that some of Sergio Marchionne’s statements about the new Chrysler Town & Country minivans are correct — it will have an independent rear suspension, new to Chrysler, along with a hybrid version and, as expected, sliding doors.

The spare tire had to be moved inside, under a panel, to fit the new rear suspension — which should save money on the existing spare-lowering-and-dragging-out setup, which tends to freeze up if left unlubricated for a decade.

In addition to the Chrysler “RU” minivans, there will be a Chrysler full sized crossover based on the same platform and likely made on the same assembly line, á la Pacifica. We expect its body code to start with the same “R” code, but “RV” is too much to ask. “RA,” for R-Alternate, or “RC,” for R-Crossover, would sound right.

All wheel drive has turned out to be an issue, according to our sources, due to lack of space. The return of AWD has long been awaited, though it was not a strong seller back in the minivans’ early days, and was said to be impossible to add with Stow ’n’ Go taking up undercarriage space. That might still be true.

While some publications continue to claim that the new minis are over a year away, we expect to see them in January’s Detroit Auto Show, arriving at dealerships by April 2015. (Some are also now saying they will be “a year early,” though production in early 2015 would conform to Sergio Marchionne’s 2013 statement, “The launch won’t happen until sometime at the end of ’14 or the beginning of ’15,” so they would not be “a year early” at all, but a month or two late.)

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