2017 CHRYSLER PACIFICA NEW GROUND-BREAKING MINIVAN
By Tom Crosby
Chrysler successfully launched its full-size minivan in 1990 with the now discontinued Town and Country, competing for nearly three decades with the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, currently the two best selling minivans. However, Chrysler may have a game changer with the launch of its 2017 Pacifica.
Chrysler says Pacifica possesses 37 industry-first features involving safety, comfort, convenience and design and has earned the first-ever minivan top crash safety ranking from the prestigious Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For the wallet-conscious, Pacifica’s top-trim – our test drive Limited – costs thousands of dollars less than Sienna’s or Odyssey’s top trims. It is extremely quiet, has a cushioned ride over bumps and potholes, handles well with minimal lean in turns at higher speeds, and morphs easily from carrying 7 (or 8 with a third second row seat) passengers into a cargo carrying work horse. Our options included Uconnect Theatre and Sound that will keep the most rambunctious kids happy with rear video screens and multi-media interfaces. Our other option was the Advanced SafetyTec Group, irresistible to the safety-conscious with braking assist for imminent collisions, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, parallel parking, back-up warning assistance and a 360-degree surveillance camera.
It’s no relation to Chrysler’s Pacifica crossover/SUV discontinued in 2008. Current trims also include LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and two hybrids, the only hybrid minivans on the market today. A Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine mates seamlessly with the TorqueFlite nine-speed automatic transmission for excellent gas pedal response. Outside, chrome bars and surrounds, along with ten-spoke, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, create eye appeal. Inside, ventilated front leather seats, upscale grained materials, a two-tone color theme and tasteful aluminum touches provide ambiance under a tri-pane panoramic roof. The graphically sharp 8.4-inch dashboard screen responds well with Uconnect voice recognition for navigation, climate, audio controls, traffic alerts, etc. There is an abundance of cupholders, trays, bins and cubbyholes. Easy entry and exit occurs with hands-free sliding doors and liftgate; seat space is ample with Stow n’ Go second and third row seats folding easily into the floor to accommodate an 8X4 sheet of plywood. Rear seats, however, are quite firm, made thinner to stow.
A kid- friendly vacuum cleaner makes messes disappear (and eliminates space for a spare tire; there was no tire sealant). A headliner convex mirror oversees rear activity and five positions exist for child-safety seats. A KeySense option offers child-oriented audio/safety controls.
LIKES: Luxury, power, kid friendly, ride, price, quiet, versatility
DISLIKES: No spare tire or sealant, firm rear seating
BOTTOM LINE: A minivan mothers will love and Odyssey and Sienna will chase
- Base price w/destination fee $43,490 (as tested $48,280)
- Curb weight 4,330 lbs.
- Wheelbase 121.6 inches
- Length 203.8 inches
- Width 79.6 inches
- Engine specs 2.5 liter, DOHC, inline 4 cylinders
- Horsepower 287 hp at 6,400 rpm
- Torque 262 ft-lbs. at 4,000 rpm
- Transmission 9-speed automatic
- EPA Rating 18 mpg city/28 mpg hwy
- Range 19.0-gallon tank, regular
- Performance 0-60 in just under 7 seconds