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Family Smart Technology for Minivans, SUVs

By Lynn Walford, March 4th, 2017

Families have more technology options for minivans and SUVs. The 2018 Ford Expedition, 2018 Honda Odyssey, and 2017 Chrysler Pacifica offer new technology designed to keep family members of all ages and abilities connected, communicating, entertained, and mobile.

-- 2018 Ford Expedition

The new 2018 Ford Expedition full-size SUV is being marketed as the smartest and most adaptable Expedition for active on-the-go families who need technology to keep them connected.

"We've added a lot of content. It starts with wireless charging, then we bring in Wi-Fi," said Todd Hoevener chief engineer of the Ford Expedition, "Everyone with kids knows they have Wi-Fi at home and want to bring it with them." Wi-Fi hotspots in the Expedition can connect up to 10 devices.

Hoevener says that often when there are two minutes left to the football game, his wife wants to leave to go to dinner. "One of the best things with Sling Media partnership is that I can watch the game while on the way to dinner.

Four 12-volt power points, six USB chargers, and a 110-volt power outlet are available to power a multitude of devices.

Smartphone owners can connect via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Users can reserve and pay for parking in select cities before they even arrive using the FordPass app. The 2018 Expedition arrives this fall.

--2018 Honda Odyssey

Honda's upcoming 2018 Odyssey minivan will have advanced connected car and entertainment features with many useful options for families to communicate.

"It is designed to keep every member of the family happy," said John Mendel, executive vice president at American Honda who noted that, "Families need time to connect with one another."

He says that Honda research found that third-row users, typically the older kids, felt left out. They liked being in their own space but want to be part of the conversation. Similarly, parents found it difficult to communicate from front to back as well as keep tabs on back row passengers. To address these needs Honda developed CabinTalk and CabinWatch.

CabinTalk is a car PA system that enables Mom and Dad to talk to second- and third-row passengers though the second- and third-row speakers and rear entertainment system headphones. CabinWatch uses a night vision camera to show video of the back rows on the center 8-inch display.

"We loaded up with noise reducing and defeating technologies to make the Odyssey the quietest cabin in the class," said Mendel. To keep the cabin quiet, Honda uses Active Sound Control technology.

The Connected Rear Entertainment System gives second- and third-row passengers streaming video on the ceiling-mounted, 10.2-inch rear entertainment system, including PBS Kids, heart Radio, and Spotify, through in-vehicle 4G LTE Wi-Fi, public Wi-Fi or users' cellphone data plans.

For smartphone users, the 8-inch touchscreen interface connects to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. CabinControl allows families to use a smartphone to control the rear entertainment system, rear cabin heat and air conditioning, and send destinations to the embedded Honda navigation system. For software system updates, owners can download available updates to the Display Audio operating and rear entertainment system at their convenience via 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, or USB.

-- BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica

Automotive mobility provider BraunAbility worked together with Chrysler to engineer the wheelchair-accessible 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. The BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica features patent-pending AccessAbility technology, providing the largest interior space, as well as the widest door opening and side entry ramp in the industry. It features 360-degree maneuverability, interchangeable seating, and an in-floor ramp.

"For wheelchair users it comes down to one word: space," said Cheryl Angelelli, at a news conference for the Chrysler Pacifica, "Wheelchair users are like everyone else. We love extra storage and we keep demanding more of it in our vehicles. As a wheelchair user it means that we have less obstacles to maneuver."

Angelelli broke her neck when was 14 years old. She didn't let being a quadriplegic stop her from being an athlete and competed in three Paralympics.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is eligible for the FCA US LLC Automobility Program which gives reimbursements up to $1,000 to eligible customers who incur out-of-pocket expenses to install qualifying adaptive driver or passenger equipment on a purchased or leased new Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, or Fiat vehicle.

FCA US has redesigned its Automobility website,, to help customers pick an eligible vehicle that can be adapted to meet their needs, finding a local adaptive equipment dealer and applying for the FCA US Automobility reimbursement.

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