Chrysler’s next-generation Town & Country minivan will have foot-operating sliding side doors, according to Automotive News.
That’s one of many technologies Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) minivan will adopt when it arrives in 2016: Automotive News (AN) says there will be a plug-in hybrid version, and an all-wheel drive model with an electrically-powered rear axle.
While the trade publication doesn’t cite a source for its claims, the foot-operated doors are a believable feature; in Ford’s Escape, among other vehicles, one can open the tailgate by flashing a foot under the rear bumper, and it’s expected that feature will come bundled on Chrysler vans with the trick doors. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 will stay, but with revisions to boost economy (like direct fuel injection, though it’s already a pretty thrifty motor) and a nine-speed automatic transmission, used in current Chrysler vehicles including the 200 and Jeep Cherokee.
All three rows of seating will have USB ports for charging devices, and there’s talk of aping the Honda Odyssey’s optional built-in vacuum cleaner, a neat follow-up to the rechargeable flashlight Chrysler built into some of its vehicles’ cargo areas not long ago.
Spy photos have revealed little detail save for headlights that riff on those used on the Chrysler 200 sedan, suggesting the new van’s front end will stay fairly true to the 700c concept Chrysler showed in Detroit more than three years ago.
The next-gen T&C will be an important vehicle, carrying FCA’s minivan mantle alone, as the company has said the Dodge Grand Caravan will disappear, though the if and when of that is still unclear.
If half of AN’s speculations are accurate, it’s clear FCA sees a future for the minivan segment it created more than 30 years ago. What else is in the pipe from FCA? We’re calling it now: a future Jeep Wrangler with an engine-start sensor under the front bumper to call back the days of hand-cranked starting.