The redesigned Chrysler Town & Country minivan, arriving next year, will feature foot-operated rear doors, USB ports in each of its three rows and improved fuel economy, Automotive News has learned.
The 2017 Town & Country has taken years longer to develop than originally planned. Chrysler first showed a concept of the updated minivan, called the 700C, at the 2012 Detroit auto show.
However, the extra time should pay off in terms of added fuel efficiency. The minivan will receive an "upgraded" 3.6-liter, Pentastar V-6 engine and, for the first time, a nine-speed automatic transmission. The 2015 Town & Country with a six-speed automatic is rated at 17 mpg city/25 highway.
A new all-wheel-drive version will employ an electrically powered rear axle for added traction when needed. A plug-in hybrid Town & Country will arrive later in 2016 and is expected to achieve fuel economy equivalencies of about 75 mpg.
According to spy photographs, the front end of the 2017 Town & Country will closely resemble the Chrysler 200 sedan. For the first time, both of the minivan's side sliding doors and its rear liftgate will have optional Open 'n Go foot activation. The feature allows the door to open automatically when the key fob is present and a foot or other object is passed below a sensor located below the door.
Inside the minivan, Stow 'n Go seating has been redesigned to recess into the floor more easily. A new electrical system will allow the Town & Country to be equipped with Fiat Chrysler's 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system. Each of the three rows of seats will have USB charging ports. The interior also will have an optional built-in vacuum cleaner.
The 2017 Town & Country is scheduled to go into production at FCA's Windsor Assembly Plant in Canada on Feb. 29, an FCA source said. The plant will continue to make the current-generation Dodge Grand Caravan into the 2017 model year.