Lacey Elliott: There is not much you can do with the overall shape of this type of vehicle. But this new design, with its flowing lines, gives it a unique appearance that sets it apart from the competition.
The inside is stunning. The 2-tone steering wheel, chrome accents and piano black finish are just some of the things that let you know this is a luxury vehicle. The instrument panel is easy to read and the graphics on the 8.4-inch touchscreen are incredibly clear.
Chrysler is known for its great minivan innovations. Stow ‘N’ Go has always been a favorite feature of mine and they managed to make it even better in this Pacifica—making room for all the things in your life; dogs, bikes, camping gear or anything needed for some adventures.
I have a very small storage room in my condo building. The ability to stow these seats away in the vehicle instead of trying to find a place to put them is a massive advantage. A Stow’n Vac vacuum powered by Ridgid is also available to help clean up any messes. And trust me, grown ups make messes too.
I just had a girls’ weekend and each one of them marveled at how comfortable the seats were and how easily we stowed everyone’s luggage. With just a push of a button, the automatic sliding side doors open and close and the life gate gently pops up. It doesn’t matter if you need to make room for kids hockey equipment or five grown women’s crazy amount of luggage.
Dan Heyman: Let’s get one thing straight to start this off: it’s a van. There’s little that can be done on the stylistic front to hide that fact, but that doesn’t mean Chrysler hasn’t tried. The styling has been given a kick in the pants with a few tweaks to add at least a modicum of style; the front fascia, for example, echoes that which is found on the 200 sedan: slim headlight lenses, a low-profile grille and even fog lights with chrome surrounds – you need to upgrade to the mid-spec Touring-L trim to get these, however – manage to work here, even though we’re talking about the broad snout of a minivan.
From the side, a simple tweaking of the angle of the rear side window as well as the slanted beltline are just a hair short of SUV-ish in their final effect. Subtle panel creases reduce the appearance of slabiness on the side doors, which has always been a minivan issue. The sparkly wheels on our tester put a nice exclamation mark on the proceedings.
As for the interior, Lacey is right; the gingerbread brown leather drapes all over the cabin – the seats, dash upper, steering wheel, more—is fan-bloody-tastic, much more fitting of a luxury vehicle than a people-moving minivan.
About that: back before the minivan was usurped on the sales floor by SUVs and crossovers, when there were multiple combatants in the minivan field, there was always going to be the luxury models simply because there was the demand. That’s not so much the case anymore, at it seems Chrysler has taken that to heart with this Limited trim spec. They’re trying to bring the luxurious minivan back, and they’ve done a bang-up job in that department. It means we no longer have to feel like we’ve traded in our “cool” card quite so readily now that we’re driving a…minivan.
LE: When carrying loved ones, whether its friends or family, safety is on our minds. ParkView Rear Back-Up Camera, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Path Detection, 360 surround view camera and park assist are just a small list of some of the advanced safety technology in this minivan.
This all-new 2017 Pacifica also gets the highest possible five star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.
Entertaining kids, or grown ups on long drives is very similar. Thirteen speakers produce amazing sound and we belted out songs from our teenage years. The middle-row entertainment system with touch sensitive screens plays movies and has built in games.
USB charging in the second and third row gives everyone what they need to use their own technology and not have to fight.
DH: The feeling of luxury extends beyond the leather, aluminum and piano black trim pieces; there’s a pile of tech here, too. Indeed, these days, any given manufacturer’s vehicle better have at least as many microprocessors as the International Space Station lest you be left behind.
So, on the Limited trim of the Pacifica, “power everything” takes on a whole other meaning. There are power sliding doors, a power rear tailgate, power folding third-row seats, power door mirrors and moonroof. Add active parking assist—yes, this baby can be equipped to park itself—and you have tech for days, if not weeks and months.
All this, before we even discuss infotainment, which is the latest version of Chrysler UConnect. The 7-inch screen is even more responsive, and the way it’s flush-mounted to the dash is very iDevice-like in its application. It does get a little smudgy, but this is a minivan! If it’s not smudgy, you’re not doing it right! Lacey mentioned the cutesy-pie kid-centric rear display screens, so I won’t rehash that but I love how it makes long-haul journeys that much easier and enjoyable to sit through.
On the road
LE: As a woman without kids, I almost feel embarrassed to admit just how much I love driving this minivan. I am no soccer mom but I know a good driving vehicle when I drive one. A 12-way power adjustable driver seat with 4-way power lumbar support make it easy to spend hours behind the wheel and not get uncomfortable. The seat bottom is long enough to provide support for my legs and outward visibility it great.
Power is impressive. Even fully loaded with five adults and luggage, it happily does what is asked of it with very little effort. The next generation 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6 engine gives this minivan 287hp and 262lb-ft of torque. Not only is this Pacific best in class for power, its also leading the way with it towing capacity. The engine is matched to an incredibly smooth class exclusive 9-speed automatic that helps to improve fuel economy.
Speaking of fuel economy, the 2017 Pacific is best in class for highway fuel economy at 8.4L/ 100km. And, the 2017 Pacific offers the first-ever hybrid minivan. It can travel up to 48km solely on electric power.
Of course, all this goodness comes with a price tag to match. The base model starts at close to $44,000 and the top of the line loaded Limited model is $53,000. I had a blast driving the ladies around this weekend. Comfort, good fuel economy and luxury all in a minivan. Yup, a minivan. And I think it’s worth every penny.
DH: The award-winning Pentastar V6 engine has impressed me in pretty much every vehicle I’ve tested it in, from Jeeps to full-size sedans and pickup trucks, and we’ve got more of the same with the Pacifica.
This is a heavy vehicle so it needs the power to hustle it along, and the figures Lacey mentions are up to the task. I wouldn’t be slapping Mopar performance stickers on it but it does all the freeway cruising and passing you need it to. It tows, too, to the tune of 3,600 lbs.
Of course, the Pacifica’s height does make for a high centre of gravity, so you will encounter body roll as you start attempting faster curves. This has been a long-time issue of minivans, and it’s not completely absent here, even with advanced electronic stability control systems.
Speaking of electronic systems: while the Pacifica Limited is the highest trim for now, it won’t be for much longer. Chrysler has already announced the imminent arrival of a plug-in hybrid version. Chrysler is claiming almost 50 km of pure-EV range, which will be appealing for those who use their van mostly for quick ‘round town work to and from school, hockey practice and so forth. You do lose the Stow N’ Go third row seating thanks to the battery pack, but it’s a very interesting proposition for those who want even more quiet, comfortable and efficient motoring.
Still, though; even without plug-in tech, there’s little arguing that the Pacifica is fantastically insulating in most situations, however. It’s quiet, the everyday ride in town with all the potholes and train tracks is well-controlled, and even today, with all the advancements in the crossover/SUV world, there’s very little that can haul the family like a minivan can. The Pacifica may be a member of a dying breed, but it remains one of the best at its craft.