The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is an all-new minivan from FCA. It replaces the Chrysler Town & Country. Direct competitors include the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna. Pacifica offers standard seating for seven, but eight-passenger seating is available. Highlights for this all-new model include the return of stow-and-go second-row seating, additional convenience and safety features and a plug-in hybrid model with an expected electric range of up to 30 miles.
Five trim levels are offered: LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and Limited. All come standard with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 287 horsepower. It mates to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Available on Pacifica Touring and Limited is a plug-in hybrid powertrain that pairs the V6 with electric motors, CVT transmission and a 16-kWh battery for a combined output of 260 horsepower. All models have front-wheel drive and can tow up to 3600 pounds when properly equipped.
Standard safety features include traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, rear-view camera and dual-front, front-side, side-curtain and driver and front passenger knee airbags. Also available are rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-departure intervention, forward-collision warning, forward-collision mitigation with automatic braking, 360-degree top-down camera system and automated parking system.
LX models get keyless ignition, tri-zone climate control, tilt-telescope steering wheel, Uconnect infotainment system with 5-inch touch screen and second-row stow-n-go bucket seats. Touring adds power sliding side doors and satellite radio. Touring-L adds power liftgate, LED taillights, security alarm, automatic climate control, leather seating, heated front seats and heated steering wheel. Touring-L Plus adds ambient interior lighting, second- and third-row sunshades, heated second-row seats, 8.4-inch touchscreen, 13-speaker sound system and second-row rear entertainment system with dual 10-inch touchscreens, a Blu-ray player and additional USB and HDMI inputs.
The line-topping Limited drops the dual-screen entertainment system but adds hands-free liftgate and sliding door functionality, twin sunroofs, xenon headlights, LED foglights, power-folding mirrors, driver memory settings, navigation system, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, in-vehicle vacuum cleaner and power-folding for the third-row seat.
Prices start at $28,595 for the LX and climb to $42,495 for the Limited. All Pacificas are assembled in Windsor, Canada, and have a destination charge of $995.
Performance isn't at the top of most minivan shopper's checklists, and Pacifica's unobtrusive powertrain confirms that fact. On the positive side, the 3.6-liter V6 develops a robust 287 horsepower. That's good enough to propel Pacifica from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.7 seconds. Acceleration on par or better than most competitors. Unfortunately, the nine-speed automatic sometimes hunts between gears when accelerating and occasionally stumbles when coming to a stop.
EPA-estimated fuel economy clocks in at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Respectable numbers and that are certainly competitive with rivals. Individual fuel economy numbers will vary greatly depending on how Pacifica is used. As an urban carpool workhorse, owners are likely to average about 20 mpg. Throw in a fair mix of gentle highway cruising and fuel economy will likely approach 26 mpg overall.
The segment-unique hybrid model offers an interesting, albeit expensive, alternative. It's most efficient in stop-and-go traffic and can be driven up to 30 miles in electric mode when the battery is fully charged. Like all hybrid models, owners need not plug in to charge the battery, but Chrysler does offer that option and claims that the battery pack can be topped up in as little as two hours on the appropriate charger.
Dynamically, Pacifica attempts to strike a happy medium between offering the comfortable ride minivan owners expect and the athletic moves of a crossover. For the most part, it succeeds. The suspension is firm with just enough compliance to absorb big impacts without adding undue bounding or head toss. Body lean is modest, thought the tires give up grip quickly. The steering is appropriately boosted, tracks straight and true on the highway and is quick enough to ease parking maneuvers. Brakes have a somewhat spongy-feeling pedal but have adequate stopping power.
Interior noise levels are low. Wind rush and tire roar are well muted. Engine and exhaust noise only intrude under hard acceleration.
The acid test for any minivan comes down to interior functionality and FCA has been a leader in this space for more than two decades. As expected, Pacifica delivers in spades. Completely reimagined, the interior is modern, innovative and, most importantly, family friendly. Materials impress and fit-and-finish is excellent -- astounding considering this is a first-year offering. The sweeping interior is highlighted by the large UConnect infotainment screen and space-saving touches like the new rotary drive selector and second-row stow-n-go seats show that the new Pacifica strives to be the most accommodating minivan in the class.
Front seats are well bolstered and present an upright driving position. Head and leg room are adequate, however, those taller than 6'2" might want a bit more of both. Second-row seats are not as comfortable or adjustable as those offered by competitors, but they do fold into the floor quite easily. Third-row seats can accommodate three adults in a pinch, but two is the limit on longer trips. The third-row seats fold flat into the rear cargo area. In an effort to ease access to the third-row seats, Chrysler made the second-row center console optional. There's also an optional second-row center seat to boost seating capacity to eight.
With an impressive suite of technology features, Pacifica is likely to win over many family buyers. Uconnect is a solid infotainment offering that could be made better with the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Still, the dual monitor entertainment system is a plus as are the built-in games and apps.
As you might expect, cargo space is impressive. In back, Pacifica offers 32.3 cubic feet of luggage space. Fold the third-row and cargo space grows to 87.5 cubic feet. With all seats folded maximum cargo capacity is 140.5. More impressive though is the ability to utilize the stow-n-go seat bins for under-floor storage. Something no other minivan offers.
With the advent of seven- and eight-passenger crossovers, Minivans aren't quite as popular with the carpool set. Still, there's no beating a minivan when it comes to family hauling. Pacifica makes a strong case for class supremacy with its user-friendly interior, innovative features and exclusive hybrid model. Pacifica is extremely competitively priced, oftentimes undercutting rivals by a thousand dollars when similarly equipped, so shop wisely and make sure you test drive the exact model you are looking to buy.