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Windsor, AWD, and the mysterious CUV

by David Zatz on

The Dodge Grand Caravan is still in production, riding with the same body it’s had with 2011, save some incremental changes here and there, to satisfy demand for a good cheap minivan. Most people don’t expect it to last past the 2019 model year, though, when its place on the line will be taken by a new Chrysler crossover.

That new crossover, whether it’s called Atlantic, Mediterranean, Voyager, or Queen Mary, will essentially be a four-swinging-door version of the Pacifica, wearing an updated Chrysler “design language” and debuting new technologies some thought would first appear on the Pacifica (and still might).

The plant may shut down for a little while once the Caravan leaves it, to get updates for the new crossover. They’ll be needed: the crossover is to showcase a new electronic four wheel drive system, where the gasoline engine powers the front wheels, and electric motors power the rear when the front wheels start to slip. All four can work together to save fuel at other times. This is a more fully baked version of systems Chrysler used to show off nearly two decades ago.

portal - journey crossover replacement

Why bother with having electric motors in back, instead of a traditional (and much simpler) all wheel drive system? For that, we go back to the main reason all wheel drive was dropped from the minivans in the first place: the driveshaft. If you have a driveshaft running the length of the vehicle, you can’t have Stow & Go seats, which are likely to be a class-unique feature for the crossover.

Windsor is scheduled to build three vehicles based off the Pacifica architecture in 2021: the Pacifica, the full-size crossover, and a production version of the Portal (it probably won’t be called that) — a shorter version of the Pacifica platform, with, more than likely, a similar plug-in hybrid system and many autonomous capabilities.

Sergio has referenced Windsor several times over the past year. In his annual Detroit press conference, when a reporter asked him about a crossover coming to Windsor, he commented, “Kuniskis really wants one.”  He also said that the Portal is based on the Pacifica platform, and Windsor would be the “natural place” to build it.

Robert S. Miller substantially contributed to this article.

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