By Keith Buglewicz
Forget the Chrysler Town & Country minivan, literally. Instead, feast your booster seats on the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. This new minivan vaults Chrysler from last place into a strong contender for best-in-class. It's not just the styling, which blends luxury and practicality in a way uncommon in the minivan class. The dash design looks luxury-car ready, and the rest of the interior offers the utility you expect in a minivan, but with a purposeful eye on design. Virtually every high-tech option you could ask for is available as well, from active cruise control to an around-view camera, and even a built-in vacuum cleaner. With fuel economy at the top of the class, the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona have some serious new competition.
If you want 8-passenger hauling ability with top-notch technology, eye-catching styling, and a first-class driving experience, then the new Chrysler Pacifica is your best bet.
The high-tech features can drive the price up to nearly $50,000 if you're not careful. And, let's face it, some people just don't like minivans.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is all-new, with enhanced styling, new tech and luxury features, 8-passenger seating, an upgraded and more fuel-efficient drivetrain, more comfortable stow-and-go seats, and a vastly improved driving experience. Put it all together and you have a van that's at the head of its class.
With the most powerful engine in its class, a nicely sorted suspension and good steering, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is a supremely satisfying van to drive. The engine is the...
... 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 we've seen in so many other Chrysler products, here mated to a 9-speed transmission that has been reworked considerably for better shifts and improved fuel economy. The suspension isn't sporty in the least, but so what? It's comfortable on the highway and around town, and offers just enough firmness that, combined with the good steering, keeps the Pacifica from being a roly-poly mess on a curvy road. What really sets the new Pacifica apart is its interior quiet, furthering the luxury-feel imparted by the high-quality materials, design and construction. Making a big box like this quiet at speed isn't easy, and Chrysler is way ahead of rivals like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey.
STOW 'N GO
“Stow 'N Go” is what Chrysler calls the 2nd-row seats that fold down into the floor, and the Pacifica improves on previous versions. First, the fold mechanism is simplified, and a button can move the front seat forward to make way for the second row. Second, the seats are finally comfortable.
The Uconnect Theater takes rear-seat entertainment to the next level. Sure, you can watch movies, or plug in your own game system through the RCA or HDMI ports. But you can also download apps, play built-in games, or just plug in your iPhone and play games on that.
The new Chrysler Pacifica's interior design speaks for itself, as a quick glance at the pictures shows. What you don't see is the practicality. The comfortable front, 2nd-row and even 3rd-row seats can all handle adult frames. The Stow 'n Go 2nd -row seats are finally comfortable, and a removable center seat means there's 8-passenger seating. The power hatch opens quickly to showcase an enormous cargo well. Options include a massive Uconnect infotainment screen in front, and a panoramic roof that looks cool, but eliminates the center position in the second row due to the lack of an upper seatbelt anchor.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica successfully borrows design cues we've seen on the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan. The headlights, grille and entire front end present a distinct and handsome face to the minivan world. In a way it's a throwback to the Chrysler vans of the 1990s and early 2000s, which boasted sleek, smooth lines. The elegant styling continues to the sides, where you can order wheels up to 20 inches across for a more dramatic look. The rear end looks a little heavy compared to the rest of the van, but overall the Pacifica is a looker.
While the base-model vehicle is often skippable, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica LX comes nicely appointed. Features include a rearview camera, active grille shutters to aid fuel economy, heated outside mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels, 3-zone air conditioning and, surprisingly, active noise cancellation. There's also a 5-inch touch-screen version of Uconnect that includes USB and Bluetooth. Also included is Stow 'n Go for the 2nd-row seats. All new Pacifica models come standard with the 3.6-liter V6 engine, 9-speed automatic, an electric parking brake, and keyless entry with push-button ignition standard. Note power-sliding doors are available on the next-level Touring and above.
Work your way up through the new Pacifica Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and Limited models, and you'll find an ever-increasing number of available features. Power sliding doors, automatic climate control, bigger and better Uconnect systems, leather seating -- Nappa leather on Limited -- and chrome exterior trim are all available at higher trim levels. Specific option packages include a 20-speaker harman/kardon audio system for Touring-L Plus and Limited models, an Advanced SafetyTec group that adds parking sensors, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera system, and of course Uconnect Theater, with all of its kid-occupying goodness.
While a plug-in hybrid version of the new Chrysler Pacifica will debut in the fall, for now it's available solely with a 3.6-liter V6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission powering the front wheels. It's an engine we're happy to see in this van. With 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque it makes the new Pacifica the most powerful minivan you can buy. However, it's also one of the most fuel-efficient, matching the Honda Odyssey on the highway and in combined scores, and just 1 mpg behind in the city. The engine is a gem, delivering smooth power across its rev range, and it even sounds good doing it. The 9-speed automatic shifts smoothly at cruise, going up and down hills, or at full throttle.
287 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
262 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica LX starts competitively with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $29,500 including the $995 destination charge. However, we think the Touring is a better bet, thanks to power sliding doors and other features for $31,500. The Pacifica Touring-L and Touring-L Plus start at $35,400 and 39,000, respectively, and add more equipment like leather seats. The top-line Pacifica Limited, with Nappa leather seats and other features, starts at about $43,500. Options add to that, of course, and you can push the price well over the $45,000 mark. However, that's still competitive compared to the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona and the rest of the minivan rivals. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying in your area. As an all-new -- and significantly improved -- vehicle, it's too early to say what resale value will be.