As the Chrysler Town & Country (1990-2016) goes out of production this year, the 2017 Pacifica enters the scene as the replacement for the three-row minivan.
More than a minivan, Chrysler touts the all- new 2017 Pacifica as a multipurpose vehicle that becomes formidable competition to the other entries in the minivan class of vehicles. The Pacifica is roomy, practical, filled with amenities, versatility, technology, bold styling and comparably priced.
Window stickers range from $28,595 to $45,485, and the Pacifica seats seven or eight. Plus, according to sales publicity from the manufacturer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Pacifica has 37 innovations compared to the Town & Country. Those innovations include hands-free operation of sliding doors and liftgate, a three-panel (two can open) panoramic sunroof over the three rows, vacuum cleaner and a 360-degree surround view camera.
In addition, besides a 3.6-liter, 287-horsepower double overhead cam V6 gasoline engine mated to a nine-speed shiftable automatic transmission, there is another powerplant. It is an electric plug-in (with gasoline engine backup) model. It is the only electric-powered minivan on the market. After running for 30 miles on a battery pack, power switches to the gasoline engine. Recharging will take two hours on a 240-volt charger. If a 110 volt charger, recharging will take much, much longer.
Seven seats are the norm for the front-wheel-drive six Pacifica models ($28,595 LX, $30,495 Touring, $34,495 Touring L, $37,895 Touring L Plus, $42,495 Limited, $45,485 Limited Platinum).
An eighth removable seat can be added. It would fit between the foldable and storable splits in the second row. This is a minivan with the Stow 'N' Go feature, which means the two outboard second row seats fit into a cavity creating a flat floor space.
The third row has a split bench seat for three adults. The splits of the bench fold into a cavity. With both rows stored in cavities, the cargo capacity of the Pacifica is a minivan class-leading 140.5 cubic feet.
The load floor is carpeted, lighted and furnished with tie downs.
Making life a bit easier, the Pacifica lineup includes hands free sliding doors and liftgate that are operated by making a kicking motion under the sliding doors or bumper to open or close the doors or liftgate.
On a recently tested Limited Platinum model the third row operated by power to store, fold or remain upright. On entry and lesser trim models, it is a manual process.
Bucket seats in front are big and bolstered. They were ventilated and heated (winter is coming). During the test week, multiple people got into the minivan and remarked on the size of the front, middle and third-row seats, the roominess and the comforts.
The Limited Platinum was loaded and offered a lot besides power windows, sliding doors, heated and foldable exterior mirrors, door locks, cruise control, air conditioning and multiple storage bins and beverage containers.
It also rode on P245 tires mounted on 20-inch alloy wheels with locking lug nuts instead of 18-inchers for P235 tires without the locking lug nuts. A Uconnect theater for the rear seats had Blu-Ray, DVD player, seatback video screens, three-channel video remote control, wireless headphones and a video USB port.
Also on this elite model were a 115-volt power outlet, 220-amp alternator, heated steering wheel, heated front and second-row adjustable leather seats.
Pacifica designers have studied minivan owner habits and proclivities. This includes practical layout of power controls for climate and sound system settings.
In the Pacifica, a unique storage arrangement began on the center console with a rubber-matted storage bin. There were three more storage compartments in a step-ladder arrangement leading to the floor. There was another pull-out storage bin which included coin slots. Bottle and smaller beverage holders were multiple front and rear.
The V6 engine was alert and accelerated quickly when called for on major and minor roadways. With three adults usually on board, the 4,611-pound minivan averaged 21.1 miles per gallon. Unleaded regular gasoline can be pumped into the 19-gallon fuel tank. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the vehicle at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. It is a relatively heavy vehicle and fuel economy could be an issue, but there is the electric-gasoline model that could help in this regard.
Pacifica steering is slick. Insulation is superb as little road noise can be detected when windows and doors are closed.
Although the Platinum is loaded, other models also include remote start, keyless entry, dashboard pushbutton start and stop, hands-free telephone, hill start assist and a sound system including AM-FM-satellite radio, compact disc and MP3 players, auxiliary ports besides the USB port and zoned climate controls. Rear seat occupants can, for example, adjust temperature and fan speed.
All the Pacifica models share safety mechanicals including airbags in front, on the sides in front and overhead for three rows. There is an airbag not only for the driver but also for the front-seat passenger.
Other elements are rear back-up camera, stability and traction controls, a four-wheel antilock braking system, blind spot and cross path detection. After accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 9.4 seconds, the Pacifica was tested braking back to 0 in a distance of 122 feet. Not bad for a vehicle of this weight and size. Brakes are discs front and rear.
The Pacifica Hybrid is not recommended for pulling trailers, but the gas engine only models have a maximum 3,600-lbs. towing capacity.
There are grille shutters, LED fog lamps in front and tail lamps in the rear, high intensity discharge headlights and a cap-less fuel filler.
Warranty coverage is three years or 36,000 miles with five years or 60,000 miles on the powertrain. Roadside assistance is five years or 100,000 miles.
Potential buyers of the Pacifica should know there is no spare tire. Instead there is a tire inflator kit and inflators work if the tire is punctured on the surface that touches the road. If the flat is due to a side puncture, roadside assistance will be required.
The lack of a spare is due to room. The cavities for two rows of seats take up space normally reserved for a spare wheel and tire.
Chrysler invented the minivan in 1984 and the Town & Country as well as its company stablemate, the Dodge Grand Caravan, have been annual sales leaders in the United States.
The Grand Caravan name also is in jeopardy. The name will continue through 2017 and probably a few years beyond as FCA officials have toyed with the idea of replacing the Grand Caravan with a new model and name. FCA officials will await sales figures on the new Pacifica before toying with changing the Grand Caravan into another minivan with a new name.
The 2017 Pacifica was first shipped to dealers in February, 2016. FCA has about 2,400 Chrysler-Dodge-Ram-Jeep dealers in the United States.
Vehicle: Limited Platinum model of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Type: front-wheel-drive, seven-passenger, three-row minivan
Engine: 3.6-liter, 287-horsepower double overhead cam V6
Transmission: nine-speed shiftable automatic
Towing: 3,660 pounds
Fuel: regular unleaded
Fuel tank: 19 gallons
Weight: 4,611 pounds
Wheelbase: 121.6 inches
Length: 203.6 inches
Width: 79.6 inches
Height: 69.9 inches
Leg room: 41.1 inches front, 39 inches rear
Cargo: 32.3 cubic feet all seats in place, 140.5 cubic feet maximum
Tires (235), wheels (aluminum polished): 18-inch
Assembly: Windsor, Ontario Province, Canada
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain, five years or 100,000 miles roadside assistance