Hot All-Wheel-Drive! 2021 Dodge Durango SRT, Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

Interview with Chrysler Product Planner Mary Ann Capo on all-wheel-drive Chrysler Pacifica minivan; Sales Winners and Losers for 2020

In our road test segment, we heat up the winter with the red-hot Dodge Durango SRT and the Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country. Both vehicles make short work of bad winter weather.

In the interview segment of the program, host Jack Nerad takes a look at yet another all-wheel-drive vehicle, the AWD version of the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan. After a recent drive in the top-level Pinnacle version of the vehicle. he had a chance to sit down for a lengthy interview with Chrysler product planning manager Mary Ann Capo.

In the news segment. Jack Nerad and co-host Chris Teague look at the sales winners and losers from 2020. And they also discuss a possible new model from Toyota that is lighting up the rumor mill.

The Volvo Cross Countrys put a modern spin on the prosaic station wagon.

The following is a transcription of Episode 36 of America on the Road. It was created with the aid of AI, so please forgive the inevitable grammatical errors.

Jack Nerad 0:04
This is America on the Road winner of the International Automotive Media Conference Gold Medal Award for Radio and now in its 24th year on the air. Thanks for being with us as we bring you the latest automotive information from around the world. Plus this week we’re going to take a quick look back at 2020. Talk about sales, among other things vehicle sales. America on the Road is brought to you by and the Coalition for Vehicle Choice. I’m Jack Nerad with me his co host, Chris Teague. Chris is based in Maine. He writes about cars and trucks for Ford authority, Forbes and driving today, among others. And he’s enduring a pretty good day in Maine today, aren’t you Chris?

Chris Teague 0:43
Yeah, I’ll take it above freezing in mid-January cannot be outdone in northern New England.

Jack Nerad 0:48
Yeah, like that a lot. It’s so early as we’re doing the recording today. I haven’t even looked outside barely. I can’t tell whether it’s cloudy or sunny or what it was still dark as I was preparing for this. So I can’t do a Southern California weather report. But I guess we can live without that. What we will like to live with is our special guest who is Maryanne Keiko. She is the senior manager of the Christ, Christ their brand product planning, and we’re gonna get a close up look at what to expect from the new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. I talked to her about it at length at a recent event. And it now offers all-wheel-drive among other things. So we will get up close and personal with that really popular minivan from Chrysler. In the car you segment Chris will give us his opinion on what vehicle, Chris?

Chris Teague 1:41
The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT.

Jack Nerad 1:45
I tell you those SRT models are terrific as a little preface to what I might say in a moment. I just love those things. I had a very fun vehicle to drive, kind of on that order. In a way it is not precisely an SUV, kind of halfway between a station wagon and an SUV. It is the Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country. So those are our two road test vehicles. Before we do any of that, though, let’s take a look at automotive news.
And I think the big news was a year has ended and auto sales are in and we can report on that and particularly what it means to consumers — what it means to people like our listeners out there and not so much industry reporting. But reporting that is a valuable to you. One thing to know right off the top is the car sales dropped to their lowest level since the Great Recession, about 2009-2010. Sales were down 14.6%, which seems like a giant drop. But given what we’ve gone through the past year, I think that’s kind of a positive, because sales were down more than twice that at the halfway mark. So we’ve been coming back. What’s your take on that, Chris?

Chris Teague 3:05
I agree. I think you know that when things started becoming apparent that they were going to get bad and probably bad for a long time — you and I talked about this last year — the automakers started issuing frantically promotions and discounts and all sorts of deals on financing. And I think to a large degree those helped buoy sales and keep them from cratering as hard as the industry probably thought they were going to.

Jack Nerad 3:29
Right, right. At the halfway mark sales were down 34%. And a lot of people were predicting that we’d have something like a 10 or 12 million unit sales year. Instead it’s coming in at 14.5 or 14.6. It’s nothing like the sales year of 2019 when 17 million cars were sold. But there were really good opportunities or buying opportunities for a lot of people. And as a representation of that the average transaction price what the typical person paid for the typical new vehicle that they bought was up pretty significantly. It went up to $38,077. This according to our friends at JD Power. That is a stout number as an average price. And it was buoyed of course, by some incentives. The average incentive on a vehicle was over $4,000 last year in the last month of last year. So that’s pretty amazing.
Among the other pieces of news the pickup truck wars continue. The F-150 continued to hold its position as the most sold vehicle in the United States. It’s retained that title for 43 years. It’s actually…this is the 44th year that it has been the best selling vehicle. Its sales actually fell, but it still retains the title so that shows you how strong and resilient it is. And one of the reasons sales fell — this is something that we experienced and you and I talked about on an earlier show — was inventory of pickup trucks, in particular, and some other popular vehicles dropped pretty significantly during the the worst of the pandemic.

Chris Teague 5:15
Yeah, I think for the F150, specifically, it was kind of a double whammy, right? Because there is the new generation of the pickup that just started hitting dealers lots a month or two ago. And, the sales always dip right before the new model comes out. So they contended with both of those things and still came out on top. But I will say that GM, the GM combined truck sales between GMC and Chevrolet, I think actually topped the F-150 for the first time in something like 15 years. So they’re gaining but the individual brands on their own still can’t compete with the F-150. sales.

Jack Nerad 5:47
Yeah. And as you talked about, Chevrolet Silverado slipped into the second place. Second place among the best sellers overall. And of course, then second place in full size pickup truck sales as well, edging out the Ram 1500 that had enjoyed that title in 2019. So hotly contested in the in the pickup truck segment. And if you want to buy a pickup truck, this is probably a pretty good time to do that. You have that all new F-150 that we like a lot. We reviewed it on a very recent show, and it’s getting into the market. Certainly the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 are also great values out there. So things to look at.
Toyota has two of the best selling models as well. The RAV4 compact SUV was the best selling SUV. They sold 430,000 RSAV4s is last year. That is a very, very robust number. And here’s a good comparison, because the best selling sedan was the Camry. And it sold, they sold 294,000 Camrys. That’s a big number. But it’s dwarfed by the 430,000 RAV4s that were sold.

Chris Teague 7:02
Yeah. And speaking of new models, Toyota has done a great job expanding the RAV4 with the hybrid models and the RAV4 prime and the Adventure trims that they’ve come out with. So they’ve done a good job sort of building it out to appeal to everyone. And it shows.

Jack Nerad 7:15
Right, right. It wasn’t a great year for Fiat Chrysler, of course, that owns the Jeep brand and the Chrysler brand and others. They were down 17.4%. Ford Motor Company was down. 15% General Motors was down 11.9%. Toyota was down a similar number too. Honda was way off off 16.3%. Subaru down 12.6%. And the whopping drop came from Nissan — down 33.2%. It’s amazing, too, because I think you would agree with me, Chris, that the new Nissan products are very, very good.

Chris Teague 7:55
I definitely agree. You know, we talked about the Sentra, I believe is one of the best values you can get anywhere in terms of technology and features. And I spoke about the new Rogue a couple of months ago. I think they’ve done an excellent job with the new models; the powertrains are refined; the technology offerings are great in the value, you know, the Sentra is a good value. Like I said, the Rogue too for what you get and what you’re paying, it’s hard to beat. I think that they’re kind of stuck in that also-ran position against the Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4. But hopefully for them more people will kind of open their eyes and see the what these things actually can do and start taking notice because I’d hate to see, you know, Nissan, either fade away or or kind of trim their model line back to stay afloat. So hopefully they they kind of come around.

Jack Nerad 8:40
Yeah, I mean, the pandemic really struck them because they were launching both the Sentra and Rogue at the time of the pandemic. And those are two extremely important and high volume vehicles for them. And then here comes this dread disease that keeps people inside and prevents them from buying cars. So it was very, very difficult times for them.
In terms of new vehicles, let’s switch away from the past and look at the future. There is a hot rumor going around right now in the auto industry that there will be a new version of the Toyota Highlander. The Grand Highlander. One of the things that has sparked that is Toyota has apparently trademarked the name Grand Highlander, and it may be a logical extension what they have done with the Lexus RX. Of course Lexus is the sister brand of Toyota. They made a longer-length RX, a three row RX. Of course, the Highlander is already a three row but a lot of people complain a bit about the third row in in the current Highlander. We drove a Highlander recently about 2,500 miles and we loved it. So there is that, but a little more space in the third row couldn’t hurt. And so I think there’s the likelihood that you might see a stretch version of the of the Highlander called the Grand Highlander within the next year or two.

Chris Teague 10:02
Yeah, you know, I think with two kids, you’ve heard me talk at length about fighting for legroom between car seats and front passengers. And I think, you know, I drove a Highlander a couple of weeks ago, the the newest 2021 model, I had a limited version where you had the hybrid, I think, a few weeks earlier. And the third row really is only usable by children. And even then it’s only really great for short trips. My eight year old daughter who is just over four, four and a half feet tall, not even that tall, really, probably four feet, found that the seats were too low and that her knees are crunched into the second row. So a little bit more room back there is not going to hurt anybody. I think it only kind of bolsters the Highlanders family street cred, so to speak.

Jack Nerad 10:42
Yeah, I think that is a very likely addition to the line. And I think it would be an addition as opposed to a replacement of the current Highlander. And so we can look forward to that. Toyota would not confirm that. They don’t confirm future products. But maybe they’re trying to build a little buzz about that too. Behind the scenes, so we will see about that.
Well, that’s it for the news. When we come back. We will be road testing a couple of interesting vehicles, including the hot Dodge Durango SRT for 2021. And I’m going to be talking about the Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country. It may be perfect for Maine, but I’m here in Southern California. So we’ll talk about that when we come back.
With Chris Teague. This is Jack Nerad with you. Thanks so much for being with us right here on America on the Road.

Jack Nerad 11:12
Welcome back, everybody to America on the Road. With Chris Teague, Jack Nerad with you. And it is road test time here on America on the Road. Of course we live to drive and drive to live here on America on the Road. We also would like to remind you, if you like the show, please turn on a fellow car person to America on the Road. Just let them know about the show. We’d appreciate that. And, Chris, we’d appreciate you telling us all about this Dodge Durango SRT.

Chris Teague 12:03
Absolutely. And I think I’ve spoken about the Durango before, you know, even in the more basic trims like the Citadel, which is not a basic trim at all. But with the V-6 engine or the lower levels with the V-6 engine, it’s a capable SUV, it’s comfortable; it seats plenty of people, up to seven or eight, lots of cargo room and it’s you know, just a comfortable vehicle even though it’s you know, probably like a lot of FCA’s lineup, a little bit past its prime in terms of being updated, you know, complete overhaul. But the 2021 SRT that I drove, it’s got the 392, the 392 cubic inch V-8, that’s 475 horsepower through an 8-speed transmission to all four wheels. And I gotta tell you, and you know, you said these vehicles earlier, a lot of fun.
I think the most shocking or most surprising thing to me is just how well these big engines slot into what would otherwise be just sort of a run of the mill V-6 SUV, you know, they’ve done such a good job at tossing these giant V-8s and they’re tuning the transmission, setting up the infotainment system to manage the the performance and the tune, and it just works very well together. And you know, that’s not to mention the fact that you know, you can rumble your neighbor’s house every morning when you start it. It’s very loud, so all around just a very comfortable, very fast SUV.
I think it tows up to almost 8000 pounds. It’s running FCA’s newest Uconnect 5 infotainment software This is on a larger and this is a new feature for the Durango and 21. A larger 10.1-inch display. It’s optional on lower terms and standard on the top three or four. But that also comes with navigation. As I said, let’s say Bluetooth voice commands, Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, which I tested out this morning. It works very well. HD Radio Sirius XM, and on and on and on. So all the latest technology can be equipped with blind spot monitoring, parking monitors, rear cross traffic alerts. So all around very well equipped from a technology standpoint, you do end up paying for that, at the end of the day, this is going to be around a $70,000 SUV.
But for the people who want that, that performance, the sound and the look, I think it’s well worth it. And as I said, you know, you can’t really beat the implementation of these engines in these vehicles. They’ve been doing it for a while; they do it well. The Durango, despite being very large, handles itself well. On the large tires the ride remains fairly compliant even on rough roads here in Maine in the middle of winter, after the plows have torn them up a few times. And I think it looks great to from a subjective standpoint; it’s got the big bulge hood and blacked-out wheels and trim. So all around Dodge has done a good job with this.
You know, I think if I had any complaints about it, it would be that the black on black on black interior feels a lot like sitting in a cave. It’s very dark. And then there’s also the sort of — I’ll call it a learning curve, — although it’s more just getting used to the way the vehicle feels. And this has happened in every Durango have driven, you sit very high, and you feel very sort of isolated from the road, which can be a little disconcerting when you’re sitting in a car with almost 500 horsepower. That makes the sounds that it does. But after a little while, you kind of get the feel, the feel for its idiosyncrasies and how it sits and you get used to that. But at first, it is a little bit odd to be sitting so tall on a vehicle that can go so quickly.

Jack Nerad 15:29
I think that’s happening because you’re six feet tall, Chris. And you know, so you’re a little disconnected. I at 5-11 feel very connected in the Durango SRT. I had a chance to drive one in the Carolinas fairly recently, and I just loved the vehicle. I think if you’re going to tow with a midsize SUV, this is really the only game in town or certainly the best choice. And I think that’s one of the cool things about the SRT cars. These are performance — these are really premium versions of the vehicle and there’s a lot premium about them, and at the same time, it’s a perfectly capable tow vehicle with a large towing capacity and three row vehicle. So you get your driving fun and you also get all that utility of a three-row midsize SUV.

Chris Teague 16:18
Absolutely, you know they’ve even come out and I’m not sure if you’ve driven it — I haven’t yet — the new Durango with a Hellcat powertrain. So that’s going to be even more sort of ridiculous if you will. But people have raved about that site and some of the same things that we’ve been saying here so yeah, kudos to Dodge on that.

Jack Nerad 16:33
Well, I did have a chance to drive that, and it is ridiculous in a good way. So very, very fun. So there’s that and what a great choice the Durango is, I think in kind of all versions. But but certainly in the SRT version.
I was driving a vehicle that has some similarities and then some some big differences of course from the Durango SRT first it’s it’s really more of a station wagon. The Volvo V 60 Cross Country is one of those rare station wagons these days. It is it does have a little elevated ground clearance versus the standard V60. I think it’s two and a half inches of additional ground clearance. But I think it’s a really good all-around vehicle and a great compromise. I think, I mean, I think you’re probably like me Chris in that we we as car journalists for some reason have this weird thing for station wagons. I know I have it. I’ve had it for years. One of my first cars was a station wagon way back in the day. What’s your take on station wagons?

Chris Teague 17:39
I’m a big fan of the long-roof car. So I’m no different than anybody else and even better if it’s brown, I guess. But yeah, you know I’m a big fan of Volvo wagons and really any wagon

Jack Nerad 17:50
Yeah, well there you go. Well, of course Volvo goes its own way. It’s gone its own way by doing station wagons when others aren’t. It also goes its own way in the interior and I like what it does. Of course you can get leather seats but if you don’t want leather seats, you can also get plaid cloth seats, which are kind of fun. Kind of a different thing. I was always a fan of cloth seats. For one thing they’re not so cold when you sit on them in the winter. And you know I kind of like that.
This is a station wagon with 23 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row so that’s a stout amount. You get 51 cubic feet with the second row folded so very very useful vehicle. There is one power plant in the V60 Cross Country for this year. It is the turbocharged 2.0-liter with 250 horsepower, 258 pound feet of torque, kind of the most rational I think of the Volvo engines. Volvo gets very very complicated with the engines that they offer. But I think this T5 is a particularly good one. Good fuel economy: 25 combined fuel economy, 25 miles per gallon combined fuel economy, 22 in the city and 31 on the highway. And it’s a nice highway cruiser. This is something that can you can put a lot of miles behind you very simply and easily and feel good about it. And also it’s sporting. You have that going for you. It is more like a sedan in terms of handling than it is like an SUV.
I should talk about the navigation infotainment system. And I’m kind of of two minds about it. Volvo kind of pioneered this big screen in the middle of the dash thing with their Sensus navigation and in the XC90 and the XC60 as well. And there’s something about it that is now, I think, a little antiquated. TI’s kind of harder to operate than a lot of vehicles. And I’m not quite exactly sure why.
I think largely it’s because of the number of screens you have to go through to get the stuff that you want. It has all the right stuff. I mean it’s a 9-inch touchscreen. The system has 10 speakers, 20 watt amp amplifier, voice control which works actually quite well. So it’s all there .You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So a lot to like about this.
And also I like the price, it’s hard to describe a car that’s almost $50,000, the base price is 46 445 as being a bargain, but in this market, this is a very premium station wagon that has, I guess, some SUV capabilities to it, it looks great inside and out fun to drive. So that’s pretty good at under 50 k these days.

Chris Teague 20:38
Yeah, I agree. And I think Volvo and I, we’ve talked about this again, before is, you know, their interiors are spare but not sparse. And they always feel sort of upscale and refined and relaxing even in some ways. But I also couldn’t agree more about the Sensus infotainment system. As you said, it has … all the stuff is there. But getting to it is a little complicated. Now, that might change if you drive the vehicle for a period of time and kind of build the muscle memory to get what you want. But in practice, learning, there’s quite a learning curve there, you know, the gestures to reach the different screens and activate or deactivate different features. I think they’ll probably get to that in the next iteration of the software. But right now, it’s a little bit more clunky than some of the other things that are out there even from sort of budget brands if you want to call it that, though they’re far from it now like Kia, Hyundai — the their input time, it’s so much simpler and easier to use.

Jack Nerad 21:31
Yeah, I am a fan of having discrete hard buttons for things like heated seats and the heated steering wheel. One of my favorite features of all time is the heated steering wheel, and you have to go through a menu or to at least a screen or two to get to those on the Volvo. And once you know how to do it, you can get there but it still takes a little effort versus just clicking a button and then your buttons get warmed. Which I kind of like

Chris Teague 21:58
Absolutely. I’m a big fan of the heated steering wheel here myself.

Jack Nerad 22:01
Yeah. Well, I get that, you being in Maine and all. And in any case, we had two really good vehicles to review this week: the Dodge Durango SRT, certainly a great three-row sporting SUV, and the V60 Cross Country from Volvo, one of the last remaining station wagons out there, a station wagon with a little bit of SUV mixed in as well. So two, two keepers. Certainly this time around.
When we come back, we will be taking your listener questions. So stay with us for that. With Chris Teague, Jack Nerad with you right here on America on the Road.

Jack Nerad 22:43
Welcome back, everybody, to America on the Road. Thank you so much for being with us. We really do appreciate you joining us here on America on the Road.
It’s listener question time; we love to take your listener questions. We try to answer them the best we can. And it’s easy to reach us. If you want to give us a listener question just send it to editor Ed it or if I’m not enunciating well, editor at driving? And we’ll answer your question on an upcoming show. Chris, I think you’ve got a listener question for us, don’t you?

Chris Teague 23:15
I do. Someone wrote in asking us they’ve been shopping for a car and they’ve seen this feature listed in a couple of different places. They want to know what VDC means in cars. This is V DC, if I didn’t enunciate that before, but they’re wondering what that stands for jack?

Jack Nerad 23:31
Yeah, well, we can answer that. And VDC are three letters that stands for something that is used virtually across the board. Now. In fact, I think it’s mandated on vehicles. And it’s electronic stability control in its generic form. Vehicle Dynamic Control is something that Nissan and Infiniti call their version of electronic stability control. And then Subaru has what they call Vehicle Dynamics Control, plural dynamics rather than dynamic. And then there are all kinds of variations of electronic stability control and Electronic Stability program. And there’s there’s about 20 different names for this.
And this actually is quite vexing, causes some pain among the folks, the safety folks, certainly the folks at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, because you get questions like this, like what is VDC mean? When if it were all called electronic stability control, everybody would at least grasp what it is. There would be a common name for it like anti-lock brakes. There aren’t 15 names now or 25 names for anti-lock brakes. It’s just anti -ock braking systems. But we still have this kind of leftover alphabet soup. So you probably want to know or the listener probably would benefit from knowing what electronic stability control system does. Do you want to talk about that a little, Chris?

Chris Teague 24:57
Electronic stability control helps keep the vehicle going in the direction that the driver wants it to. So this is like in a situation, when the driver is trying to evade a crash or stop very quickly or swerve out of the way of something, the vehicle has a tendency to want to spin or and you know, especially if it’s rear wheel drive. And so the ESC or the electronic stability control is there to kind of help stop that or help prevent that and maintain traction when those things are going going on.

Jack Nerad 25:27
Right. It doesn’t steer the car. I mean, it doesn’t take over steering. For me, what it does is it provides input, mainly it uses the braking system, sometimes it also changes the way the engine is operating, cuts down engine torque ,basically kind of slows the engine in the vernacular to lessen any kind of oversteer or understeer. Both of those things are things you don’t particularly want. You want the car to go where you’re pointing it, or where you hope to be pointing it as opposed to where it wants to go.
One of the things that can typically do is provide braking to a particular wheel, which you as the driver could never do as well as you might be, you can have the left front wheel brake and not have the right front wheel brake, for example, or any of those combinations. So it’s a pretty tricky little system.
What was interesting to me was as this was being made mandatory, a bunch of safety organizations suggested that this would prevent accidents, a massive number of accidents, and I don’t know whether it really has or not. That’s something that it would be interesting to go back in time and go okay, well, now we’ve had fewer of these kinds of accidents than we had before. And of course, the accident that is avoided never gets listed. Right. I mean, there are no statistics on accidents avoided. There are just statistics on accidents that have happened.

Chris Teague 26:56
Yeah, I think you could probably point to the fact that vehicles themselves are easier to control than they were 30 years ago to right? They’re not big and boat-like anymore. So I think that could probably play into it too. But as you said, it would be interesting to see that the statistics on that

Jack Nerad 27:08
Right and you could make the case that things like Vehicle Stability Control or electronic stability control or Vehicle Dynamics, Control, VDC, aid that. They make bigger vehicles more maneuverable and more controllable, even though you don’t know exactly what’s happening because all of this happens. mystically, behind the scenes. You don’t feel it happening. You don’t know what’s happening. It’s just happening.

Chris Teague 27:33
Yeah, whether it’s statistically proven or not, I would like to have it in my car, so I’ll take it, right?

Jack Nerad 27:39
So again, VDC basically equals electronic stability control. The system from Subaru also uses — most Subarus are of course all-wheel-drive — so it uses full-time all-wheel-drive as the first line of defense against oversteer and understeer. And then the VDC takes further corrective actions. And it deals with where it applies torque and where it applies the brakes.
And the Nissan/Infiniti system — most of their vehicles are of course front wheel drive — it operates somewhat differently, because it would operate differently on a front front drive platform that does not have the the benefit of all-wheel-drive. But largely that works by applying braking to a wheel that is losing traction and increasing the torque to wheels that have traction.
So that’s our chapter and verse on VDC and electronic stability control that was our listener question for today. Again, if you have a listener question, please send it to us: editor@driving, editor@driving is where you’d send your listener question and we’ll try to answer that on an upcoming show.
So with Chris Teague, this is Jack Nerad with you. When we come back, we will be talking with Mary Ann Capo. She is the Chrysler product planning manager. We’re going to be talking about what’s new on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan for 2021, just a general hint one of the new things is all-wheel-drive. So we’ll talk to her about that. So stay with us again with Chris Teague, Jack Nerad with you and stay with us right here on America on the Road.

Jack Nerad 29:20
Welcome back, everybody, to America on the Road. Jack Nerad with you. We are in the center of Charlotte, North Carolina, with Mary Ann Capo, who is the manager of product planning for FCA for Chrysler. We’re driving minivans today. Today’s minivan day. Tell us what’s exciting about the new Pacifica minivan because there’s a lot going on with it.

Mary Ann Capo 29:44
So we had all these journalists out here in Charlotte, North Carolina, to have the first opportunity to drive are ’21 Chrysler Pacifica allwheel-drives. That is one of the things that’s new, among many other things, but all-wheel-drive For the first time since 2004, we’re introducing all-wheel-drive, and you can get it with our industry. Exclusive stow and go seating and storage. Yeah.

The new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica offers available all-wheel drive.

Jack Nerad 30:10
Back when I was just a middle-aged man, the last time you had all-wheel-drive, and I guess there’s been a lot of consumer demand for all-wheel-drive in the Pacifica. Talk about that.

Mary Ann Capo 30:21
Certainly over the years, our customers have been asking for it. We do very well in the steel belt states. So in the north, in the Midwest, of course, where I’m from, I’m from Michigan, where our headquarters is, but also, you know, Chicago, New York. Those markets have been asking for it for snow, all weather capability. And our minivan is the most capable minivan with all-wheel-drive. So I’m happy to be able to have that that claim.

Jack Nerad 30:50
Yeah, it’s very cool to have it today. And we drove drove them today. You conveniently didn’t have snow for us. So I appreciate that. Now we did it. There were some white stuff along the side of the road. I don’t think there was snow, though. But all-wheel-drive is a terrific boon. And in this case, it’s really seamless for the driver, isn’t it?

Mary Ann Capo 31:10
Yeah, basically, it’s an automatic system. It will activate based on weather conditions. So the driver doesn’t have to do anything, it will do it all for you. It has a busy mom and dad, that’s what you want. You don’t have to you don’t want to have to think about what you need to do. You’re thinking about the kids and in driving safely on the road.

Jack Nerad 31:30
Well talk a bit about how it senses because I’m kind of curious about that. It’s interesting that there’s a bunch of different things that will trigger all-wheel-drive. Well,

Mary Ann Capo 31:39
it certainly traction. So on the road as you’re driving, if there’s rain, it’s going to activate the system, and it’ll activate power. Depending on where it’s needed.

Jack Nerad 31:50
Would it activate it because you’ve turned on the windshield wipers? Or would it activate it? Because it’s sensing wheel slip a little bit?

Mary Ann Capo 31:57
Everything, but it’s smart. It’s all of that.

Jack Nerad 32:00
So it can tell what temperature it is. All of those kinds of…

Mary Ann Capo 32:04
Exactly. It’s a real intelligent all-wheel-drive system.

Chris Teague 32:09
And typically the vehicle is, of course, front drive. That’s what makes it a minivan after all

Mary Ann Capo 32:Jack Nerad
Correct. That’s right.

Jack Nerad 32:15
And then it’s rear wheel, drive, all-wheel-drive.

Mary Ann Capo 32:21
Yes, when you when it needs to be. And it has the ability to have torque go to all four wheels.

Jack Nerad 32:26
You alluded to the stow-and-go seating and the fact that there’s some people who would think, well, I can’t have all-wheel-drive and stow-and-go because it would interrupt. Talk a bit about that.

Mary Ann Capo 32:38
So certainly, you know, just to be sure that everyone knows what stow-and-go is, it’s our seating and storage system. It’s our second and third row seats that stow into the floor. Very easy, very seamless to be able to stow within seconds. So you’re able to carry you know, passengers up to seven or eight passengers and store them into the floor and have a full rear. So you can carry cargo. Yeah. Within a matter of seconds.

Jack Nerad 33:06
Yeah. Or you have good, good seating for folks. Absolutely. And that’s been a that’s been a trademark for a long, long time.

Mary Ann Capo 33:13
Correct. And we’re the only ones to offer it in the entire industry. There is no other vehicle that does that.

Jack Nerad 33:19
It’s kind of interesting that nobody has copied that because there’s so many things you do that have been copied, right?

Mary Ann Capo 33:24
That’s right. And our customers love it. I mean, that’s why they keep on coming back.

Jack Nerad 33:28
Right. Well, beyond all-wheel-drive what are some of the other features of the new 2021 Pacifica?

Mary Ann Capo 33:35
Good. Because I was hoping I was hoping you would ask me that because we did so much. You know, our team set out to broaden the appeal of the minivan. We were changing the design of it. It’s a redesign. It’s a more Utility Vehicle like so our styling cues of a utility vehicle have been brought into the minivan, we changed the face of the front. So there’s a new face new LED standard headlamps that don’t only have locks, but also there’s a an improvement for visibility. And then the new grille that’s broader, more sportier. And definitely then the upper and lower facials were changed that really gives you a whole new face and a more upscale more sporty or look at the same time.

Jack Nerad 34:24
When you talk about styling, that it’s kind of SUV like, is that what consumers have been demanding? You think or that’s just kind of makes sense to you to do or you know, what is what is that really?

Mary Ann Capo 34:34
Brilliant. Both of those things. So our consumers are looking at SUVs. We know sales of SUV are the highest ever. People are looking for that styling while they’re looking for utility and functionality that you can get in a minivan but they’re looking for that styling too. Because you don’t necessarily get the same versatility and functionality in a sport utility that you get in a minivan.

Jack Nerad 34:58
Yeah. They are kind of different animals in a way, aren’t they? And crisis not only invented but keep adding stuff, right?

Mary Ann Capo 35:07
Correct. We invented the segment if I can say so 37 years ago, we were the pioneers of the segment. And our, our cadence is we continue to innovate. We have 116 minivan firsts that we’re proud of. And we continue to look to add to that. One other thing that we did launch. For 2021, we have a new top of the line model, it’s called Pinnacle sort of speaks for itself that is at the top of the lineup. And it has the most, most luxurious interior in the class. It’s beautiful. My design team did a wonderful job. It has unique, exclusive Carmel, and black interior combination, quilted seats, all these luxury appointments. It has second row lumbar support pillows, that of course the kids are going to either sleep on them, or they’re going to have pillow fights, right. But as a driver,

Jack Nerad 36:04
Is there any kind of Velcro or something to get? there?

Mary Ann Capo 36:09
We call them the second row lumbar support pillows, but certainly as a driver. I’m going to use that behind my back. Yeah. And give me lumbar support and it adds extra comfort to right. So anyone in the vehicle below right? color. Sure, yeah, decorative throw pillow. And

Jack Nerad 36:24
I would say when I looked at the interior and looked at the leather of the seats and stuff, it reminds me of Ferrari or something like that. Mazda Roddy. I mean, it has that Italian very upscale look to it. And that’s exactly what you were trying.

Mary Ann Capo 36:39
We have been. Yep. All the stitching, and all the details really give you that, you know, luxury appointments? Yeah. Good. I’m glad you noticed.

Jack Nerad 36:46
Yeah. And it struck me it was interesting to me that the center console is different in the pinnacle, than it is in in other levels of the vehicle. talk a bit about that. So

Mary Ann Capo 36:57
As as far as the new top of line model, we also designed a new integrated center Council in the first row. It’s integrated with the instrument panel, more Utility Vehicle like and has a ton of storage, and it’s hidden storage covered. Because our customers tell us they need places to put things in. They don’t want anyone to see all their stuff. So certainly, it’s the most functional center council that we’ve designed. It has incremental volume storage capacity to add he has an armrest. So it’s more comfort to you get that as you’ve moved up to the top of the line model that you wouldn’t get in any of the other.

Jack Nerad 37:38
And maybe another level still, you know, the armrest was attached to the seat as opposed to be a part of the console.

Mary Ann Capo 37:45
Right, on the other models that fall below a Pinnacle, you’re going to have armrests that are attached to the seat.

Jack Nerad 37:51
Yeah. And the Pinnacle costs about what?

Mary Ann Capo 37:54
So the pinnacle is in the $50,000 range. Okay, low 50,000 in it, if I can just clarify. So you have the federal drive with a hybrid power train. And the hybrid is a plug in hybrid, which has a gasoline engine paired with two electric motors. There’s no range anxiety, because you always do have that gasoline engine because a total driving range of 500 miles so you start their front wheel drive hybrid combination, you could also then move to a all-wheel-drive but gasoline power train? Yeah, via those two options for our customers.

Jack Nerad 38:29
And with the hybrid you have some electric only capability.

Mary Ann Capo 38:32
Correct, 30 miles, more than 30 miles on a full charge all-electric range.

Jack Nerad 38:38
So amazing fuel economy and a range…I think range is something that, we’re living in an era of cheap gasoline; we’ll see how long that lasts. But certainly having that range, not having to go to the gasoline station all the time. That makes a big difference, doesn’t it?

Mary Ann Capo 38:54
It’s a plus. And well, and I don’t know that everyone’s aware of this, but it does qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit that’s available. So I mean, really you once you do your tax returns after your purchase, you could get up to $7,500 back on your tax return. So it really makes it a compelling value proposition if you were to look and consider a hybrid powertrain.

Jack Nerad 39:19
What do you think are some of the most exciting features or useful features of the Pacifica?

Mary Ann Capo 39:26
We added a ton of technology features for 2021. We have our You are our new Uconnect 5 system. It’s our next-gen infotainment system. It allows you to you know works five times faster it allows you to have six profile settings. So it knows each passenger or each driver that goes into the vehicle it’ll memorize your your seating settings, it’ll memorize what music you like those One Best Feature though, is our new fam cam, interior camera for family camera. Because of course moms and dads are driving our Chrysler Pacifica. And the fam cam allows you through our 10.1 inch screen display from the front allows you to see your rear passengers, you’re able to see the second and third row passengers. So where the kids set. And as a young mom, it allows you to see or see your infant who’s in a rear facing seat, it’ll focus on the child’s face. So of course, when they’re crying, or whatever’s going on back there, if you hear something, it’s gonna allow you to see what’s going on and forget those mirrors that you attach to the windows or to the seats. You don’t no longer have you don’t you do not have to do that anymore. You’re able to see it right through the display as you’re driving.

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