Summer Getaway in a 2020 Chrysler Pacifica - Review By Larry Nutson
Summer Getaway in a Chrysler Pacifica...Perhaps the Best Getaway Car
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
My wife and I recently did what many American families are doing this summer. We rented a vacation home together with some of our extended family and spent two weeks working from home (WFH) in a different place.
The awfulness of the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought about your home also being your office has the upside of allowing many to work from anywhere.
Yes, it was a vacation for the majority of the time. However, there were some hours here and there along with a couple days of both of us giving needed attention to business.
And like what many other Americans are doing this summer, we drove and did not fly to our getaway vacation home. For the six hour drive from our Chicago home to the northern reaches of Michigan’s lower peninsula a 2020 Chrysler Pacifica would be hauling us and our stuff.
I was particularly excited to be driving the Pacifica. Certainly a multitude of other car models would have gotten us and our stuff there. But, the Pacifica with its spacious rear cargo area (140.5 cu.ft.) would allow us to also bring our two bicycles.
The 2nd and 3rd-row Stow ‘n Go seats, with the 3rd row being power operated, fold completely into the floor proving a huge flat floor cargo area. I got both our bikes in without needing to remove the front wheels with plenty of room remaining for luggage, garment bags, coolers, some groceries, some of our favorite wine along with various sundry items.
The hands free rear liftgate and two sliding side doors open with the push of a button on the key fob making for easy loading from both sides and the rear of the Pacifica. And here’s a real plus compared to an SUV. The low load floor liftover height of 24.3 inches makes loading and unloading a dream. There is no high lifting as there is with an SUV.
Our loaded-up rear cargo area still allowed for a view out all of the windows. However, a 360-surround view camera, rear back-up camera, rear park assist as well as blind spot and rear-cross path detection helped make for very safe maneuvering and road driving.
The Pacifica has 287-HP 3.6-L V6 under the hood and a 9-speed automatic puts the power to the front wheels. Even with our vacation-load there was plenty of performance coming from this powertrain setup to move the Pacifica along the highway with plenty to spare.
I try to minimize stops on road trips, although a break is good from time to time. Moving along quickly is my goal and admit to not trying to squeeze every mile from a tank of fuel. My expectation was a need to refuel on our 380-mile trip. To my surprise the Pacifica matched the EPA highway rating of 28 MPG and with its 19-gallon fuel tank left me with plenty of reserve. Theoretically, the Pacifica has a driving range of over 500 miles.
There’s a bunch more Pacifica features that are getaway friendly.
- Ventilated seats help to keep you cool when the hot summer sun beats directly on you.
- The 8-way power front seats allow for mid-trip comfort adjustments and the inboard armrest is well located for a good steering wheel grip.
- The seating position for the driver and front passenger is high and upright, affording excellent visibility down the road ahead.
- Adaptive cruise control takes a bit of the stress out of long stretches of open road with light traffic.
- The 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot allowed my wife to stay connected with her business needs.
- Plus, the 115-Volt auxiliary power outlet kept her laptop running for the entire 6-hour trip.
- In spite of the Pacifica’s cavernous interior the Active Noise-Control System made for comfortable mobile phone conversations.
- The 20-speaker Harmon Kardon audio delivered some great road-trip sounds and made podcast listening quite nice.
- The Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum came in handy to clean up some beach sand.
- And, those Stow ‘n Go seats easily came back into place for people-transport during our stay.
The Pacifica is also offered in Touring, Touring L and Touring L Plus models. There’s also a Pacifica Hybrid to choose with an all-electric range of more than 30 miles. I drove the Pacifica Hybrid about a year ago and you can read about that here. https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2019/04/18/660768-2019-chrysler-pacifica-hybrid-review-by-larry-nutson.html
Recently, the Pacifica Hybrid earned first-place honors in the 2020 AAA Car Guide SUV/Minivan category, in addition to finishing in the top three in this year’s AAA Car Guide Top 10 overall vehicle ratings.
A lot of folks buy an SUV because they want all-wheel drive. Well, now on the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica you’ll be able to get an all-weather capable, seamless and fully automatic all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. Revealed in February at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler says the Pacifica will have the most advanced AWD system in its class and is the only vehicle to offer AWD along with Stow ‘n Go seating.
For those who can’t wait there’s a 2020 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Launch Edition that’s set to arrive in dealerships in the third quarter of 2020.
More info and specs on the entire Pacifica line-up can be found at www.chrysler.com.
Minivans have the reputation of being a family vehicle. Today, minivan buyers actually have a quite diverse demographic that spans age ranges and family makeup. With a median age of 54, the current market of new minivan owners is made up of nearly as many Baby Boomers as Gen Y and just as many families without children as families with children, according to AutoPacific.
Minivan owners drive more. According to AutoPacific’s New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey data, 59% of minivan owners expect to drive more than 11,000 miles per year, compared to 51% of the remaining market. Additionally, 86% of minivan owners say that fuel economy is important to them.
Chrysler says that the Pacifica Hybrid buyer is youngest in the segment at 47 years old and tends to be families with young children -- 63 percent of Pacifica PHEV owners are Millenial/GenXers.
KBB.com’s Light Vehicle Sales Report says that minivan sales for the first half of 2020 are off by about 42%. Like all vehicle sales, this is due to the pandemic. The Chrysler Pacifica has about 28% share of the current minivan market, which has only five entrees. One of these is the Dodge Grand Caravan selling to about 24% of buyers. As it goes, FCA has about 52% of the minivan market.
As I am sure you have surmised, I was quite pleased with my Pacifica getaway experience. Although we were only two people, if you happen to have more aboard for your trip, the roof rack allows for a car-top carrier. Trailer tow rating is 3600 lbs. and a bike carrier can easily be installed at the rear hatch.
Even for local driving, there’s lots of pluses. Great ease of getting in and out is one. The sliding side doors are wonderful in parking lots that seem to have smaller and smaller space. Or, are there more large vehicles?
A word of thanks to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the loan of the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica that helped make for a great getaway.
© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy