12 Best Family Cars: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler pulled out all the stops when it redesigned its minivan last year, and it again appears on our list of Best Family Cars because Chrysler nailed it. Whether you want basic transportation for eight passengers, luxury accommodations for the same, or an innovative class-exclusive plug-in hybrid that offers a real-world 30-plus miles of fuel-free range, the Pacifica has you covered.
The standard engine in the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica is a 287-horsepower V6 driving the front wheels, and returning excellent fuel economy up to 28 mpg on the highway. The 9-speed transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, and while the Pacifica offers very good acceleration in a class known for the opposite, it never feels musclebound. If, however, you're looking to save fuel, the Pacifica Hybrid offers a solution unique in the minivan segment, and rare across all three-row vehicles. Plug it in, and the battery holds enough charge for up to 33 miles of driving on electricity alone; if you stay near home and charge frequently, you may go so long between fill ups that you'll need a refresher course at the pump. Once you deplete the battery, the V6 engine kicks on and delivers excellent power, all while delivering up to 32 mpg on the EPA's combined fuel economy score. Economy car fuel economy and seven-passenger space? Nobody else comes close.
Fuel savings aren’t the only place where the Pacifica shows its practicality. Like all minivans, cargo space is king, and the Pacifica features a huge well behind the third row for just about anything you can think of. The third row stows quickly and easily into the well to extend cargo space even further, and if you need to maximize your space, the Pacifica's Stow 'n Go outboard seats flip down into a well in the floor in no time. If you aren’t using the wells for seats, they do double duty as additional cargo space. The good news is that the Stow 'n Go seats are comfortable enough for adults, meaning that you aren't sacrificing comfort for utility, as in earlier versions. The Hybrid sacrifices Stow 'n Go due to battery concerns, but take heart: The consolation prize is a pair of captain's chairs that are downright luxurious.
When it comes to seating, the Pacifica holds up to eight, while the Hybrid maxes out at seven. Either way, everyone gets a premium spot. The third row handily accepts three people, with easy access to the third row. The second row can also handle three across, and you can remove the center position if you want even simpler access to the third row. LATCH points are easy to get to in all positions, and there's plenty of space between the second row and front passenger seat with even a bulky infant seat mounted. In front, the center console offers generous storage space, plus there's a huge amount of room on the floor for larger items, such as a purse. A slide-out bin on the dash grants even more space, and everywhere you look there are bins, cupholders, and more.
Style and Safety
One of the most innovative things the Chrysler Pacifica offers in the minivan class is a sense of style. In a segment long regarded as dowdy, the Pacifica's clean exterior lines, dramatic headlights, bold taillights and clever detail work combine to make this van a cut above its competitors in the design department. The sense of style continues inside. Piping on the seats, multiple color combinations, and a dash that looks more like a luxury car all help make the Pacifica feel more premium than practical. The availability of options like a high-end audio system, hands-free hatch and side doors, plus a panoramic sunroof and more all contribute to the feeling that the Pacifica belongs in the luxury class.
None of this sacrifices safety, either. The Pacifica gets the required high marks in crash tests, but also comes with a slew of active and passive safety systems to keep drivers out of danger in the first place. There's lane keeping assist and warning, blind-spot warning, backup or full 360-degree camera, active cruise control, and collision warning and avoidance all available. Much of it can be added to lower-end models as well, so buyers can get into a nicely appointed Pacifica with plenty of safety features without breaking the bank.
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