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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan is a modern and well-designed product chockful of conveniences at every row for up to eight passengers. Top it off with being easy to maneuver, packed with safety tech, and just flat-out enjoyable to drive, and you’ve got a family winner.

I drove a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica with a 287-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Available in a base LX, Touring, Touring (with Plus and L Packages), Limited and Hybrid (with Premium or Platinum packages), my Pacifica Limited trim came with the following standard features: upgraded Nappa leather upholstery; bucket seats; heated and ventilated front seats; an eight-way power driver’s seat and passenger seat; heated second-row seats; heated steering wheel; front seats Stow ‘n Assist; Uconnect and 8.4-inch navigation display screen; tri-pane panoramic sunroof; ParkView rear back-up camera; keyless start; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; Bluetooth connectivity; third-row power folding seats; power liftgate; 18-inch alloy wheels; fog lights; HID headlights; and a safety suite of technology. Price as described without options came to $42,495 without little need for options.

Although a new model, the Pacifica replaces the discontinued Town & Country minivan. Competitors include top-of-the-line Kia Sedona, Toyota Sienna, and Honda Odyssey models.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: For a minivan, the design is pretty darn attractive, from the stylish headlamp bezels to the polished wheels, and pretty functional, too, as a simple kick below the available hand-free sliding doors opens them magically. The tri-pane sunroof was a plus on our family’s journey through the Redwood National Forest in northern California. I loved the two-tone interior and the driver’s seat was extra accommodating (also, smart design move to keep an open floor between driver and passenger). The Stow ‘n Go seating storage system means you simply slide and fold the rear seats to get more space when needed, which was handy during our four-day camping excursion up the coast. The second-row seats also do an easy tilt should you need better access to the third row. While the Stow ‘n Vac RIDGID vacuum is a nice touch, it didn’t have Shop-Vac power to pick up the tree needles. The entertainment technology is what makes the Pacifica so alluring, with available 10.1-inch dual HD touchscreen with Blu-Ray for rear passengers, allowing them to watch movies or play games with wireless headphones or Bluetooth remotes. An upgraded 20-speaker Harman Karden audio system is also available.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2017 Chrylser Pacifica ratings of “Good” in all crashworthiness areas, making it a Top Safety Pick. Standard safety equipment includes an Advanced Airbag System; Anti-Lock Brakes with EBD; Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control; and Roll Stability Control. For the most part safety technology is an extra but available, starting on the base LX and Touring with rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert; and building up to my Limited with the addition of a $1,995 SafetyTec Group package that added ParkSense (front and rear parking stop), a 360-degree camera, parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop, full-speed collision warning, and lane departure warning. All this comes in handy if you plan on taking this ride into uncharted territories that include tight camping spaces and tricky parking maneuvers.

Cost Issues: Starting price for a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica base LX is $30,995 with my Limited model and packages bringing the price to $48,280. That’s a little more than what you’d pay for a fully loaded three-row SUV from Ford, Nissan and Chevrolet makers, but you get more accommodating space.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Pacifica was a delight to drive, and my family logged over 600 miles in the north coast with it which included (but was not limited to) gliding through redwood canopies, getting lost on washed-out roads, flooring it up steep highway grades, and counting on its controlled braking when the occasional squirrel presented itself. I felt confident to park this minivan into smaller spaces with all that assisting technology, and the entertainment component keep the kids happy. I was ready to sleep in it should the need arise, as the folding system and space dimensions would allow my air mattress to fit. In short, it felt like a true traveling companion, one that never complains and is always up for the next adventure.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy with the 3.6-liter V6 engine is 18-city and 28-highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS Chrysler has thrown all their weight into the 2017 Pacifica minivan, an absolute pleasure to drive and get lost with during a long family weekend. The design execution both inside and out is step above the rest, with a focus on technology to both entertain and keeps your loved ones safe.

©2017 Katrina Ramser