Find Your Credit Union

The Chrysler Moms behind the 2017 Pacifica

By Holly Reich, May 7th, 2016

Who knows a minivan better than a mom? Chrysler understands that. Fact is, many moms held key positions when developing the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. But, it came with a tall order.

Manufacturer photo: The Chrysler women behind the development of the all-new 2017 Pacifica: Winnie Cheung, Interior Chief Designer for Chrysler brand; Irina Zavatski, Exterior Design Manager; Jill Katic, Product Planning Director.
Manufacturer photo: The Chrysler women behind the development of the all-new 2017 Pacifica: Winnie Cheung, Interior Chief Designer for Chrysler brand; Irina Zavatski, Exterior Design Manager; Jill Katic, Product Planning Director.

The Pacifica had to break through the criticized "soccer mom" image, had to rival the outgoing Town & Country, and it had to entice SUV customers to go minivan.

To understand what went into the new Pacifica, I interviewed four women in key positions. Following are excerpts from my interviews with the women of Chrysler's all-new 2017 Pacifica.

h2>-- Question: How did your family influence your decisions?

-- Jill Katic, Product Planning Director:

Manufacturer photo: The Chrysler women behind the development of the all-new 2017 Pacifica: Winnie Cheung, Interior Chief Designer for Chrysler brand; Irina Zavatski, Exterior Design Manager; Jill Katic, Product Planning Director.

"My kids are a great source of inspiration. I credit my six-year-old with inspiring the `Are We There Yet?' rear-seat navigation app. He takes every opportunity to say, "Mom, I think you should do this (fill in the blank)!"

-- Jessica Lafond, Chief Engineer:

Jessica is responsible for the full design, development and execution of the Pacifica program. Lafond, mother of a 12-year-old daughter has owned a minivan for nearly 15 years.

"Before we started, we interviewed children about what they wanted in their new van and had children of many ages climb around our packaging model."

-- Irina Zavatski, Exterior Design Manager:

Manufacturer photo: The Chrysler women behind the development of the all-new 2017 Pacifica: Winnie Cheung, Interior Chief Designer for Chrysler brand; Irina Zavatski, Exterior Design Manager; Jill Katic, Product Planning Director.

Zavatski sketched and developed Pacifica from the initial stage to the launch. "I have two kids, and I purchased the minivan once I started working on Pacifica; I wanted to know what it feels like, what the key functionalities are, and how to improve image/appearance.

-- Winnie Cheung, Interior Chief Designer for Chrysler brand:

"My husband and I are expecting our first child! We are super excited for our next chapter of life where we will experience being parents in the front rather than a kid in the back."

strong>-- Question: Do you think that being a woman had an effect on your input, engineering or design?

strong>-- Jessica Lafond: "What is important to each life stage was used to create the Chrysler Pacifica. I have lived through these stages and understand what is important. During the early childhood years, I ran around with lots of stuff. I've used my van for countless home improvement projects and take many yearly long family car trips in the van. I have watched my parents use my vehicle and even purchase their own as they enter their retirement stage."

Manufacturer photo: The Chrysler women behind the development of the all-new 2017 Pacifica: Winnie Cheung, Interior Chief Designer for Chrysler brand; Irina Zavatski, Exterior Design Manager; Jill Katic, Product Planning Director.

strong>-- Irina Zavatski: "This vehicle is not just for women. But, I appreciate the peace of mind knowing your child won't yank the door open and ding the car next to you. I love being able to drive the kids, grandparents, pets, and luggage on a weekend trip. And I've experienced the attitude of other drivers not respecting the minivan. I made it my mission to make the minivan cool again."

strong>-- Winnie Cheung: "A woman's perspective is very important, especially for a family vehicle. Identifying and designing to a woman's needs is vital. Basic needs are ample storage that even includes space for your purse! We treat the interior like a piece of art, making it stylish and comfortable, through sculptural surfacing, simple controls and technology and color and materials that allow enhancing the Zen-like experience."

strong>-- Question: What specifics went into the Pacifica to make it different?

strong>-- Jill Katic: "We know minivan drivers appreciate small, thoughtful features like a designated umbrella holder to keep their umbrella in the vehicle, out of the way, until it is needed. The Pacifica has two umbrella holders, one next to each front door.

We know that families have children of all sizes. For the small children, we put a button (shaped like Chiclets gum) on the outside sliding door handle to easily open the power sliding door. We realize that families have tall teenagers, so we increased the third-row legroom by almost 5 inches over the previous minivan.

The Easy Tilt seat is inspired by parents who are endlessly removing and reinstalling child safety seats to allow passengers to access the third row. Easy Tilt makes removing child seats is a thing of the past."

strong>-- Jessica Lafond: "Here are a few examples: 1.) We added a front grab handle on the passenger side to help shorter, less limber, or older people get in and out of the van with confidence. 2.) The low tray/console between the driver and passenger seat is great for holding bags or purses. 3.) The push-button drawer in the instrument panel was designed to be like a catch-all drawer and to hold key electronics, like an iPad. 4.) A headrest dump feature located in the radio allows you to fold the third-row headrests from the driver's seat. 5.) The new Stow-N-Vac is purposefully placed so that you can do a quick clean anywhere in the vehicle."

strong>-- Irina Zavatski: "One fun detail is the stowing roof rails that fold to the side when not needed. The 360-degree camera is also helpful, especially when parking. My favorite feature is the fact that you can open the sliding door by using the kick wave sensor, the button, or the key fob."

strong>-- Winnie Cheung: "We wanted the Pacifica to be an emotional purchase -- one that would make drivers feel confident and give a positive perception of minivans. The interior is like a living room on wheels

Women Auto Know: Roadside Breakdown Preparedness

12/09

Women Auto Know: Roadside Breakdown Preparedness

It might be a mysterious thumping under the hood. It might be an overheating radiator. Or it might be as simple as a dead battery or a flat tire.

Lexus Loves Strong Females

07/29

Lexus Loves Strong Females

Women are not only buying more cars they are now starting to become the voice of automotive brands. At the debut of its new "F Sport" version of the 2018 Lexus LS, Jeff Bracken, the group VP and General Manager for Lexus announced that actress Minnie Driver is the new voice of the Japanese brand.

Women Auto Know: Empowerment of Driving Challenges

12/31

Women Auto Know: Empowerment of Driving Challenges

We all know that women are the purchasers of more vehicles than ever, but did you know that a growing number of females have been learning how to drive in the backcountry and go off-roading with their families and groups of other women?

Off Lease Vehicles

Hundreds of one owner, off-lease cars, trucks & SUVs with low mileage at a great price!

Additional Resources

Most Researched

2018 Honda Accord EX
EX 4dr Sedan
2018 Jeep Cherokee Latitude
Latitude 4dr SUV
2018 Audi A4 2.0T ultra Premium
2.0T ultra Premium 4dr Sedan
2018 Toyota RAV4 LE
LE 4dr SUV
2018 Ford F-250 Super Duty XL
4x4 XL 2dr Regular Cab 8 ft. LB Pickup