SAN DIEGO - The Chrysler group, which developed the first minivan, wants to stake its claim on another segment.
Chrysler is touting the 2004 Pacifica as a "segment buster." The vehicle, which the company calls a sports tourer, is a six-passenger wagon that melds the qualities of a sedan, minivan and SUV.
To the man on the street, the automaker has created a sophisticated station wagon. But it is not your father's wagon. With ride and handling tuned in Stuttgart and an interior that looks more German than Motown, this is not even your father's Chrysler.
The Pacifica is aimed at what Chrysler says are the 2.7 million people who annually switch out of sedans, minivans and SUVs. "They are not loyal to the segments," says Tom Marinelli, vice president of Chrysler marketing.
Marinelli says sedans, minivans and SUVs each have qualities that turn off these owners. SUV owners may dislike "the bulk, truckiness and poor fuel economy," says Marinelli, but they like four-wheel drive. Many minivan owners perceive their vehicles are boring, but they want the versatility. Limited utility may be an issue with sedan owners, but they demand a good ride and handling.
So Chrysler spoke to these owners, selected the features they want to keep and engineered them into the 2004 Pacifica, adding a touch of Mercedes-like refinement.