Chrysler vans: How about some excitement?
I cannot help but be intrigued by the sales prospects for DaimlerChrysler's new Town and Country and Caravan minivans. I respect their decision to create a very advanced interior. After all, we spend a vast majority of our time interfacing with the inside of our vehicle and if we are ever let down by the practicality, utility, or quality inside, the entire relationship is quick to sour.
To borrow Bobby Flay's recipe analogy from this morning's introduction, DCX has included several new ingredients inside their new vans such as the all-new "Swivel n' Go" seating option (similar to that found in many custom fullsize vans), dual source DVD screens, one-touch power down Stow-and-Go rear seats, and sexy ambient lighting options. All good and very compelling purchase incentives.
But if we fail to fall in love with the outside of our vehicle, especially at that famous "first glance", that relationship my never get off the ground.or in this case, leave the dealership. And here is where DCX may have slipped. Not only did Chrysler invent the segment 23 years ago, but they popularized it by making it look like something special. Today's new Dodge and Chrysler vans look fine, but is `fine' good enough in this hyper-competitive (and shrinking) segment? Tough to believe that, to my eye, the latest Hyundai and Kia minivan clones have an edge in style.never mind the aging Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
Regardless of outside appearances, a vehicle offering utility, relative luxury and power will always have a niche. For example, Pontiac's disgustingly ugly Aztec captured a fair amount of market share, much more than was expected. In the newly-dawned war between minivans and "cross-over" SUVs, looks are only part of the battle, and for a company like Daimler Chrysler with a solid reputation already in place, the task is not so much to produce edgy, innovative exteriors, but to appeal to a broad range of consumers with more bland looks and intuitive, useful interiors. They would be wise to leave "edgy" to the likes of Nissan, a company with something left to prove.
Sorry to disagree with you Pat,
The domestics have everything to prove in their vehicles, corporations, and dealerships.
Aztec had market share but it sold about 30% of planned volume, making it not only a product failure but a very expensive one.
Smart styling that makes the customers come into the dealerships is essential. It creates excitement and pride of ownership that utility (which is expected anyways) won't do.
Longtime Dodge Grand Caravan ES owner here (5 kids, what can I say?). Kudos to DCX for their interior innovations on their new minivans. That said, the body is shockingly bland, particularly when DCX had heretofore clearly been the style leader in minivans. The bodies of the previous two generations blow away the new body. In a segment that is clearly very important to Chrysler's well being, the pedestrian exterior is baffling. If this is what ends up in the showrooms, DCX can kiss their leadership position goodbye.
I usually don't follow auto design, but my husband sent me this.
Finally, a manufacturer gets it. Even when taking only 2-3 long road trips a year, a mini-van like the New Chrysler Caravan is making me reconsider switching from my beloved SUV preference/loyalty of over 10 years.
Thanks Chrysler. I didn't know I was in the market to buy a minivan this year, but I just might.
All this about who builds the best doesn't make sense, as to japan being better then american made, my Odyssey was made in alabama, and the only thing listed on the sticker as made in japan was the transmission.
If the minivan market is shrinking why have Hyundai and Kia entered that market? My 15 year old son has read that the new volkswagen minivan may be built by chrysler, is this why the second row seats can face backwords like some of the older volkswagen vans,and chrysler is putting that into thier vans also.
...except that those in the market for a minivan (i.e. parents of children) tend to be responsible, sensible types that do not buy vans on the basis of style. The (lack of) sales of the Nissan Quest proved this principle.
I believe Chrysler/Dodge's strategy to upgrade the interior massively while purposefully ignoring the exterior styling (Hey Tommy! Can we just use the 1985 exterior blueprints again?) is a solid one.
DCX may see market share GAINS in this shrinking segment with this new one...
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