Chrysler introduced the minivan 33 years ago, and it took the suburbs by storm. The sliding doors and roomy interior in the Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Caravan were perfect for shuttling kids and their sports gear.
By the early 1990s, Chrysler was selling more than 500,000 per year. Rivals such as Honda and Toyota soon developed popular minivans of their own.
But while extremely practical, the minivan lacked a coolness factor, especially compared with sport utility vehicles. When car companies started making crossovers — small SUVs that had as much space as minivans but more car-like handling and better fuel efficiency — minivan sales took a dive. General Motors and Ford soon stopped making them altogether.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles aims to reverse that slide with the Pacifica, which goes on sale this spring. It replaces both the Town and Country and Grand Caravan. The company is unveiling the Pacifica at this week's auto show in Detroit.