2004 May Be Final Year to Buy All-Wheel Drive Chrysler Minivan

With a substantial share of the minivan market, its not like DaimlerChrysler did a bad job redesigning the latest Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. The latter is arguably the most luxuriously equipped van on todays market, while both deliver high levels of standard equipment offering features other van makers cant even compete with.

But nevertheless the Chrysler/Dodge duo is leaving a few slices of pie for its competitors to gobble up due to its lack of a tumble under third row seat. In its 2000 redesign, all-wheel drive (AWD) was deemed more important than cargo/seating flexibility, a philosophy the worlds number one minivan maker seems to be rethinking. The space under the cargo floor necessary for incorporating AWD takes up the room needed for the fold-flat seat.

According to USA Today, Chrysler will debut a “retooled” minivan at next Januarys North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The updated van will reportedly sport the convenient third row seat, with no mention as to whether AWD will be available or discontinued. Another scenario could be the option of one or the other, making Chrysler/Dodge vans customizable to owner needs.

 

Of course the fact that AWD is chosen only by 5 percent of Caravan/Town & Country buyers might make the final decision much easier. It is entirely possible Chrysler will choose to go the route Mazda went with its most recent MPV redesign, dropping AWD altogether in place of the flat-folding seat.

 

Alternatively theres also the possibility of incorporating both a tumble under rear seat and AWD into the same package. Japanese rival Toyota has managed to offer both features in its new Sienna because it has borrowed much of its architecture from the recently redesigned Lexus RX 330 sport utility. No doubt Chrysler will be looking at ways to use more of its new Pacifica crossover that shares many components with the automakers minivans, to make the AWD, flat-folding third row seat combination a reality.