A versatile, modern minivan that looks fantastic.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Minivans are not dead. I’m not even sure they are dying. Sure, sales are down, because y’all are buying crossovers. But minivans continue to make the most sense for most families with 3 or more kids. And they have come a long way. And people will continue to buy them.
Chrysler resurrected the Pacifica name for the 2017 model, replacing the million year-old Town & Country model with this all-new minivan design.
The new Pacifica has always struck me as perhaps the most handsome of the minivans out there. It doesn’t try to hide its mission, but rather contains it in modern styling and packaging. It’s long and sleek and looks good.
My review vehicle’s “S” package blacks out a lot, if not all, of the exterior trim including the wheels and while I wouldn’t quite call it aggressive or sinister, it certainly looks like it means business. I love how it changes the exterior and I would definitely opt for this package.
Inside, the materials are nice, with soft-touch all over the place and handsome stitched panels on the dash – although it doesn’t come across as expensive as it actually is. The simple layout and sculpting are interesting and work well.
Behind the heated steering wheel are gauges divided by a highly flexible driver information screen. You’ll find yourself sitting on very comfortable seats upholstered in beautiful Nappa leather – they’re power-adjustable, heated and ventilated.
While this is all nice and good, I’ve also seen the brown Nappa leather interior in the Pacifica (it’s called Deep Mocha) and it’s stunning. It looks significantly more luxurious than the black one, although the materials aren’t actually any different other than the colour.
The centrally-mounted 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen handles your phone functions, the navigation and the 20(!)-speaker sound system which we thought sounded pretty dang good. Although it’s been around for a while, I still like this system a lot and it does most everything well, including how it works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
When it comes to driver assistance technology, it doesn’t seem like Chrysler missed anything in this trim, optioned the way my vehicle was. It had blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera with parking sensors, rear cross-path detection, forward collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and parallel/perpendicular park assist.
This trim comes with a very handy integrated vacuum cleaner, however the optional inflatable spare tire kit in my review Pacifica deletes the vacuum.
Second and Third Row Seats
There are plenty of buttons to activate the powered sliding doors – on the key fob, at the front of the vehicle and on the door frames in the back. The second row seats, although still thinner than other minivan seats, felt very comfortable which is something we couldn’t say for past generations of Stow-N-Go seating. They are heated and can be reclined.
Second row passengers get a storage bin and cupholders that slide out of the centre console, and there is a separate rear climate control panel on the right side of the roof.
The rear entertainment system, while pricey, is outstanding. There are wireless headphones and remotes for each side, and they are linked together so your kids can play the built-in apps and games together – my family loved this and it would likely kill off plenty of time on road trips. Getting content from your devices to those screens can be done using USB or HDMI plugs, a Blu-Ray player or simply by streaming wirelessly. Although it’s a great system, I’m not convinced it’s worth over $2,500. You can buy all rear passengers iPads for that price, and when you arrive at your destination, they aren’t stuck on the front headrests.
The third row is spacious enough for adults and I found the seats quite comfortable as well. The rear row feels airy as it gets its own sunroof. The seats in the third row can be reclined with power buttons and passengers get their own cupholders and storage bins as well as a USB plug on the right side.
Rear passengers get manual window shades in both the second and third rows. If you’re transporting little ones, you’ll find two sets of LATCH anchors in each back row, for a total of four.
There is no shortage of storage spaces here. In the centre console, there’s a sliding lid over a rubberized bin. At the front of the console is a big bin, and in front of the console is a huge, open storage space with 12V and USB plugs as well. The bottom of the centre stack slides out and is yet another large bin for your stuff.
As with most minivans, there is a very deep well in the trunk when the third row seats are in use – it already provides a lot of space at 915L.
Your first resort in creating more space would be to fold away the third row. This can be done electrically, using buttons. The seats split and can be folded independently or together back into that well in the trunk, creating a massive trunk (2,478L) with a flat load floor. If you need more space, the magic and convenience of Chrysler’s Stow-N-Go seats should not be overestimated. There are power buttons to automatically slide the front seats out of the way to accommodate the folding and stowing action of the second row seats, which can be done in a matter of seconds and with great ease. It’s so smart, convenient and fast. Do this, and you’re rewarded with a basically-flat trunk from the tailgate all the way to the front seats and a staggering 3,979L of space. And as you’d expect, you can pick any combination of which seats to fold away and which to keep in use, for a wide variety of flexible cargo spaces.
The slight price you pay for this convenience is the flimsy feeling of the floor under the second row passengers’ feet – the “lid” for the bin the seats fold into feels hollow and far less solid than a typical minivan floor would. But there’s even an upside to this – those bins, when not in use by folded away seats, provide huge additional storage spaces underfoot which can be a boon on a long road trip.
Under the Hood
Powering the Pacifica is the venerable 3.6L Pentastar V6, putting out 287 HP and 262 lb.ft of torque. That power makes its way through a 9-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. The Pacifica is rated at 12.4/8.4/10.6 (city/highway/combined) L/100 km. We ended up with an average of 11.8 L/100 km which I thought was very good considering the size of the vehicle, the power it puts down and the fact that I didn’t try to drive efficiently at all.
In the Pacifica, everything is smooth, smooth, smooth. Click the rotary gear selector into Drive, and you’ll find a powertrain that is surprisingly powerful, particularly off the line, and will hold its own during passing as well.
We always enjoyed the comfortable and luxurious ride. Handling is what you’d expect from a minivan with plenty of lean in corners, but it is a very competent machine on the road. It will allow you to take cloverleaf freeway merges at surprising speeds and it remains unflappable in most circumstances.
We very much appreciated at how very quiet it was, even on the highway. Visibility out of the Pacifica is quite good, and you can even fold the third-row headrests down with the push of a button on the dash. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I used that lot to whack my kids in the head when they were being unruly back there. It’s a fantastic feature!
Equipped as my Pacifica was, it has a maximum tow rating of 3,600 pounds (1,633 kg) which is best-in-class.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was quite high. She did love her minivan back in the day, and while she doesn’t miss driving and parking a big beast like this, she said this one was easy to drive and felt wonderfully comfortable.
This Limited trim felt like it had all the bells and whistles, and paired with the incredible flexibility, comfortable space for its passengers, unsurpassed cargo capacity and outstanding performance, I would say the Pacifica is very competitive. I was however surprised at the final as-tested price. Reaching into the mid-$60,000’s is a stretch for any minivan, and the Pacifica still has to prove itself. It’s not available with all-wheel drive and resale values will not hold up to the competition. I’m guessing nobody walks out of the dealership paying that full price, particularly considering these aren’t selling all that well. So if you are looking for a modern, all-inclusive minivan and you can stomach the negotiation game at the dealership to get that price down, you may find what you’re looking for in a Pacifica.
Pricing: 2019 Chrysler Pacifica
Base price (Limited trim): $53,745
Options: $245 Billet metallic paint; $995 20-speaker harman/kardon stereo; $995 “S” appearance package; $600 towing package; $1,995 Advanced SafetyTec package; $2,595 Uconnect Theatre Group (rear entertainment); $600 20-inch black wheels; $295 inflatable spare kit;
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $64,260
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Chrysler Canada.
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