If you need a practical family conveyance and haven’t tried a modern minivan, you’re doing yourself a disservice. SUVs might be the popular choice but that tall ride height and rugged capability comes at the price of reduced interior space and truck-like maneuverability. Some are better than others but none come close to a minivan.
The Chrysler Pacifica needs little introduction; they were first on the scene with the original Dodge Caravan almost 40 years ago. Since that time many have come and gone with only a handful of brands still left in the game today. And it’s little surprise that Chrysler is one of them. In this space they’re masters of van craft and stepping into the 2022 Pacifica it shows.
After a styling and trim refresh last year, there are minimal changes for 2022. There’s more standard equipment, a new colour (Silver mist), and an upgraded infotainment experience with Uconnect 5. You can also outfit the Pacifica with AWD now regardless of trim. It’s a smart system too, able to disconnect the rear wheels from the driveline running in front-wheel drive mode when it sees fit, enhancing efficiency and reducing emissions without any input from the driver.
All Pacificas are motivated by a 3.6-L naturally aspirated V6 mated to a 9-speed automatic sending 287 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque to either the front wheels or all four depending on whether or not you checked the all-wheel drive option box. The hybrid uses the same V6 but with a different transmission and is not available with all-wheel drive.
I spent a week with a Pacifica Touring-L, a mid-grade trim that gets just the right amount of optional extras. Included are leather seats (heated for the driver and passenger), a heated steering wheel, parking sensors, and a 360-surround camera. My Pacifica also had the Uconnect theatre family group ($3795) which adds two 10-inch Amazon fire-ready screens for second-row passengers and a whole lot more like heated second-row seats, upgraded speakers and amplifier, a WiFi hotspot, extra USB ports, and even a built-in vacuum cleaner to quickly hoover up leftover goldfish and cookie crumbs.
The Pacifica can fool you into thinking that it’s a luxury vehicle with its quiet cabin and pillow-soft ride, great after a long day of work but even better for keeping a gaggle of kids calm. The wide variety of entertainment available on the Amazon-powered screens helps as well.
You’ll almost forget you’re driving a van, because unlike some SUVs, the Pacifica is remarkably easy to drive and park, and it will fit in most spaces and underground parking lots without having to worry about height or width restrictions. It even handles decently well for what it is, even though that is one of the last priorities of this people mover. The V6 is efficient, refined, and very smooth, and the 9-speed transmission shifts even more seamlessly than I remember.
FamCam is another cool feature migrating down from the luxe Grand Wagoneer, and it displays an image of the rear passengers on the main screen. It’s ideal for checking up on rear-facing child seats and can even zero in on individual seats.
The new Uconnect 5 system is a joy to use and still just as good as it was in previous iterations with the same customizability and snappy performance. Thankfully Chrysler also equips the Pacifica with physical switches for the climate controls and the stereo, though you’d be forgiven for getting a bit confused with the rotary transmission dial that sits right next to the volume knob.
What sets this Pacifica apart from all the others are the Stow ‘n Go second-row seats that can be quickly collapsed into the floor with the pull of a strap. Not having to yank out a thousand pounds of bench seat when you need extra cargo space is brilliant, even if you only use it once a year.
For van fans the Pacifica is a homerun. It does everything a minivan should and it does it exceedingly well but holding it back from ranking even higher is its price. A new Pacifica starts at $50,595. Even a upper-trim Toyota Sienna
, an excellent van as well, is cheaper. Worse for the Pacifica is that all Siennas are hybrid and as a result, stupidly efficient and the only way to beat that is with the Pacifica Hybrid
. And unless you live in an EV-friendly province like Quebec or B.C, that one’s going to cost you even more.
My tester with a few options rang up to an eye-watering $62,375. That sum will get you any number of SUVs big or small with all the adventure-ready options and body cladding one could ever want. I tried to convince a friend of the merits of a minivan and he went out and bought an Audi SUV. Nowhere near as practical but a hundred times cooler. Just ask his kids.
A Pacifica might not be the most fashionable choice but few vehicles are as easy to live with on a daily basis. For a bigger family that needs comfortable transportation, it’s basically unbeatable and if you’re considering an SUV and haven’t tried a minivan yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.
2022 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L AWD
- 7-passenger minivan
ront-engine, all-wheel drive
-L V6; Power: 287 hp @6400 rpm; 262 lb-ft @ 4000
: 9-speed automatic
: (Regular Gasoline in L/100 km) 14.1 city; 9.4 highway; 12.0 combined (2.9 Le/100km)
: 915 - 3979 litres
$59,295 (base); $62,375 (as-tested)
WEBSITE: Chrysler Canada
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.