The minivan's Stow 'n Go seating was also redesigned to collapse into the floor more easily and without the need to move the front-row seats all the way forward. The redesigned second-row seats also tilt forward, enabling passengers to access third-row seats without removing child seats in the second row.
Minivan sales have declined for several years as a percentage of overall U.S. volume. The segment peaked in 1995, accounting for 8.4 percent of sales. Last year, it was 2.9 percent.
In terms of total volume, minivan sales peaked at 1.37 million in 2000. Last year: 507,217.
Still, the segment has remained constant at about a half million for the last three years. While down significantly from its peaks, Kuniskis said, "so are the number of nameplates -- 15 vs. six."
"That means the sales/nameplate ratio is at an all-time high, of 95K units," he said, "and, when you consider there are really primarily three dominant players (FCA, Honda and Toyota) that adds up to 125K sales/nameplate. Since we currently have two of the top four sellers, that's very good business for us."
The key for the Pacifica, he said, is to replace consumers' memories of earlier minivans.
"We can't afford to have them see the '80s minivan with the wood paneling on the side," Kuniskis said. "We can't afford them to think about the van that maybe they rode in growing up."