2017 Chrysler Pacifica

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — For the most part, minivans live out their existence lonely and unloved, with owners who are all too self-conscious of and embarrassment associated with driving one. To be sure, the minivan is not an aspirational vehicle. Nope. They are strictly life-stage vehicles, ready to fill the void between the third-trimester and the age when the kids no longer want to be seen with their parents — especially in a minivan at Wal-Mart.

With the immense popularity of three-row sport utility vehicles, the minivan’s popularity has waned, primarily relegated to three brands: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country. 

While other manufacturers have completely given up on the minivan segment (i.e. Ford and General Motors), the folks at Chrysler made it perfectly clear that they are not about to concede their class-leading share of the market. Although, they have dumped the Town & Country moniker in an attempt to overcome the minivan stigma via marketing. We like the change.

In a move to further distance the new Pacifica from the traditional minivan, designers carved out a “brush stroke” flowing exterior design that’s a massive departure not only from the outgoing Town & Country but the entire segment.

The front end mimics the look of the Chrysler 200 with the “floating” wing badge in the grille, a completely new fascia where the lower grille is a mirror image of the top grille. Even the power sliding-door track is concealed at the bottom edge.

Inside there’s nothing economy looking, with an impressive execution of premium materials, soft-touch plastics, and thankfully, Chrysler’s clever Stow-n-Go seating system that lets you hide both rows of rear seats in the floor with ease.

As expected, the new Pacifica is replete with new tech, safety and operational equipment including a hands-free rear liftgate, three-pane panoramic moonroof, a Vac ‘n’ Go in-car vacuum, WiFi, HDMI for plug-ins and more.

Pacifica is available in five different trim levels powered by Chrysler’s 3.6-liter V-6 engine, connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s quick, quiet and exceptionally smooth on the road.

Later in the year, Chrysler will introduce the first hybrid minivan with the Pacifica plug-in, expected to return up to 80 MPGe and to travel up to 30 miles on pure electric-mode driving.

Overall the all-new Pacifica is a terrific vehicle that performs exceptionally well, looks more like an SUV and, in our opinion, is the best vehicle for moving people, pets, and gear. You’ll just have to decide if you can handle driving a “minivan.”

Vital Stats

Price: $28,595 - $42,595

Price as Tested: $46,480

Seating: Up to 8

Engine: 3.6-liter V6

Horsepower: 287

Fuel Economy: 18/28 – City/Highway

Fab Features:

So good it could make driving a minivan “cool”
Exceptional ride, handling and performance
Overall impressive well beyond expectations

— Jim Prueter