2017 Chrysler Pacifica Raising The Bar - Review By Larry Nutson
2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Raising The Bar
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
Praise has been coming from nearly everywhere on the all-new minivan from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Going back in time, the company that claims to have invented the minivan, the former Chrysler Corporation, has now reinvented it, of sorts.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, renamed from the former Town & Country, is now the only all-new minivan from FCA. The previous generation design Dodge Caravan is still available for 2017, however it’s expected to eventually be discontinued.
Recent minivan segment total sales are far lower, from well over a million units in the past sales now hover around a bit above half-million vehicles annually. The minivan buyer comes from two walks of life. One group is the younger couple just starting a family with one, two or three young children. The other is the retired, more senior but still mobile generation who appreciate the conveniences a minivan provides.
You can easily understand the couple with pre-school or elementary school age children and the need to transport them and occasionaly their friends. The more senior folks like the ease of entry and exit, the high seating position and the convenient rear cargo with low floor height. My in-laws fit into this group as they enjoyed using their minivan as a large closet on wheels for annual winter trips to warmer climates.
The new 2016 Pacific is available in five models -- LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and Limited, all powered by a 287HP Pentastar 3.6-L V6 mated to a nine-speed automatic. Base prices start at $28,595 and go up to $42,495, plus a $995 destination charge.
I had a week to play around and learn about the Pacifica in a Limited model with a base price of $42,495. A $995 Tire and Wheel package added 20-inch wheels shod with 245/50 all-season tires. And for $1,995 a Uconnect Theatre Package provided the all-important child-entertaining video package with headrest screens, wireless headphones and video remote plus the associated Blu-Ray/DVD player and various USB and video ports. All totaled up the bottom line hit $46,480.
My Pacifica Limited media-loaner had niceties such as leather trimmed seats, panoramic sunroof, power-folding outside mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, heated steering wheel, power folding third row seats, hands free power sliding doors and liftgate and more.
On the driver-assistance and safety front, a 360-degree surround view camera, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control with stop, forward collision warning, blind spot and cross path detection, and rear park assist with stop are really nice-to-have features. I’m sure you have seen the Pacifica TV spot with Jim Gaffigan backing the Pacifica into a parking spot without touching the steering wheel. I recommend giving these features serious consideration.
In addition to the ones I previously mentioned, other comfort and convenience features include Stow ‘n Vac an integrated vacuum, and redesigned Stow ‘n Go seating with Stow ‘n Go Assist and Easy Tilt access to the third row. With all these convenience feature it is easy to understand why older folks and moms holding their kids like a minivan such as the Pacifica.
Engineers are doing a better and better job every year of reducing fuel consumption. The new Pacifica’s 9-speed automatic helps with that by keeping the engine operating in its most efficient range. EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the Pacifica are 22 mpg combined, with 18 city and 28 highway. If this isn’t enough for you, the Pacifica is also offered as a hybrid. Pacifica Hybrid model pairs a dual-motor electrically variable transmission (EVT) with a specially modified version of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine that features an Atkinson cycle combustion system. The Pacifica Hybrid is the first electrified vehicle in the minivan segment expected to achieve 80 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in the city and 30 miles of all-electric range, for an estimated 530-mile total gas and electric range.
The Pacifica does its minivan job very well. With seating available for up to eight, it’s comfortable, easy to maneuver, has good acceleration and passing ability, ride and handling is smooth, predictable and comfortable, and steering feedback and effort is well balanced.
My one small nit-pick was the heat load in the area of the front seats. My summer driving had outside temps in the 90-degree range with plenty of strong overhead sun. The top of the instrument panel is covered in black, which it needs to be to minimize reflection in the windshield. So this black surface heats up and the steep angle of the front windshield lets in lots of the overhead sun’s rays. I needed to keep adjusting the AC system and fan speed to keep all the heated air from around my face and head.
More info, specs and details on the 2016 Chrysler Pacifica can be found HERE and at www.Chrysler.com. Even though the Pacifica is quite good, you may want to check out other minivans right here on The Auto Channel. The game moves quickly and the next best thing will come along before you know it.
Chrysler’s Pacifica is the only “U.S. brand” minivan on the market today, save for the Dodge. GM and Ford don’t offer anything comparable. Honda, Toyota and Kia are still in the game, but Pacifica is the new kid in town.
The new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is a contender for the North American Truck of the Year (NACTOY) and the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Family Vehicle of the Year awards. We’ll have to wait until after the new year to find out the winners.
© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy