If you’re after a practical and user-friendly minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica should definitely be on your radar.
If you’re after a practical and user-friendly minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica should definitely be on your radar.
Chrysler has been making minivans under various guises for over 30 years now, so it’s probably no real surprise to hear the Chrysler Pacifica is a rather good multi-purpose vehicle. As practical and easy-to-live-with family transport, it certainly ranks up there as a rather fine car. What’s perhaps more noteworthy, though, is that the Chrysler Pacifica is also one of the top cars in this particular segment. It’s testament to just how good this car is that it can be favourably compared against talented rivals like the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna. All in all, the Chrysler Pacifica is an exceptionally good minivan that we feel anyone in the market for one should definitely consider.
We would prefer a bit more padding for the second and third row of seats.
Being a minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica can unsurprisingly accommodate the driver and passengers fairly generously. Though we would prefer a bit more padding for the second and third row of seats, the chairs are supportive enough to be comfortable on longer journeys, and the driver can find his or her ideal driving position as a result of the good adjustment levels for the seat and steering wheel. Even more interestingly, the Chrysler Pacifica is rather adept at accommodating adults. Though shoulder room for the passengers in the rearmost row (as well as the middle row, if you opt for the eight-seater configuration) isn’t amazing, the head and leg room on offer is rather impressive, and means six footers won’t be wanting for space regardless of which seat they’re in. The folding seat mechanisms and the large door apertures are also worthy mentions. Likewise, the storage spaces are for the most part as plentiful as they are sizeable. Admittedly, the glovebox is on the smaller side by minivan standards, but the abundance of easy-to-access trays and cubby spots should mean at least most of your day-to-day paraphernalia will have a home in the Chrysler Pacifica. There’s even a spot to place an umbrella by the left side of the driver’s seat.
Overall fit-and-finish is satisfactory on the Chrysler Pacifica.
That ease of use also extends to the ergonomics of the Chrysler Pacifica’s control layout. Whilst there are buttons to contend with on the center console, the size and positioning of them means they’re simple enough to use on the move. The touchscreen interface on lower-spec cars is also fairly good – though, if your budget stretches far enough, we’d recommend upgrading to the larger display, due to the crisper display, extra features and faster responses it has over the base setup. Overall fit-and-finish is satisfactory on the Chrysler Pacifica. Though there are some cheaper-feeling plastics lower down in the cabin, a majority of the materials used in the minivan are of a very good quality, and the whole cabin feels very well put together. Admittedly, we do feel the Kia Sedona has a slightly more upmarket-feeling interior (an important aspect, considering both the Kia Sedona and the Chrysler Pacifica can both become rather pricey cars if you’re not careful enough), but the Chrysler Pacifica nevertheless has a pleasantly-assembled interior that should hold up to the hardships of day-to-day family life. It’s the versatility of the cargo area, though, that really impresses us. On top of offering a sizeable amount of space with all three rows of seats in place (the 32.3 cubic feet of space is plenty enough, if a bit down on the class best), the Chrysler Pacifica can also swallow up even more gear once you flip the seats into little cubby spots in the floor – enabling, with all seats tucked away, a cavernous, 140 cubic feet load bay with a boxy shape and a completely flat floor. Again, it’s not class-leading (a Toyota Sienna has a maximum capacity of 150 cubic feet), but it’s a margin we’re willing to overlook considering how much space the Chrysler Pacifica offers.
The noise insulation levels are particularly impressive.
A minivan was never going to be an exciting car to drive, but the Chrysler Pacifica is remarkably a rather pleasant vehicle in which to pilot down the road. By the standards of the class, the three-row people carrier is remarkably adept when it comes to being a comfortable and refined family-oriented vehicle. The noise insulation levels are particularly impressive. Even the models that don’t come with the thicker windshield on the top two trims, the Chrysler Pacifica is a very refined vehicle, with very little wind noise and tire roar for such a vehicle. The ride quality is also very good, with only the sharpest and most sudden of jolts like expansion joints on the highway being transmitted to an otherwise well isolated cabin.
Chrysler has also done a rather good job with overall visibility.
Having a supple suspension setup doesn’t mean the Chrysler Pacifica’s an unwieldy device on tighter sections of road. On the contrary, the Chrysler Pacifica is remarkably adept and responsive for a minivan, with the admirable grip levels, well-controlled body lean when cornering and precise input responses making the task of driving the car appropriately straightforward. Chrysler has also done a rather good job with overall visibility. The windshield is large and broad, so there’s a more than adequate view out of the front, the rear window is of an okay size and the quarterlights in the base of the front pillars help eliminate what would have been rather big blind spots. Only the chunky middle and rear pillars that obstruct over-the-shoulder hold the Chrysler Pacifica back – though the blind spot monitoring system and rear parking sensor setups (part of a $995 optional package on the two most basic trims; standard on all other models) do go some way to alleviating those concerns.
A tried-and-tested 3.6-liter six-cylinder gasoline unit.
For the time being, the Chrysler Pacifica is only available with one engine option: a tried-and-tested 3.6-liter six-cylinder gasoline unit. Being an engine been present in tweaked guises under the hoods of many Chrysler models (including the Pacifica’s predecessor, the Chrysler Town and Country), this six-cylinder unit is very well-suited to life in a three-row minivan. For instance, it’s a fairly punchy unit. With 287-hp and 262 lb-ft of torque on tap, the six-cylinder engine has enough grunt to endow the Chrysler Pacifica with a decent turn of speed that’s especially handy when overtaking on the highway. Admittedly, as the peak outputs are higher up in the rev range, you do need to work the engine a bit in order to extract the most from it, but the smoothness of the engine and linearity of its power delivery means this 3.6-liter powerplant never feels stressed when you do so – plus, as we’ll go into shortly, the transmission does do a good job at keeping the engine in the optimum power band. Fuel economy’s also fairly good for a large six-cylinder engine in a three-row minivan. With claims of 18mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway, the Chrysler Pacifica is amongst one of the most efficient vehicles in this segment, and it’s worth pointing out that more frugal competitors like the Toyota Sienna can in most cases only go one mile further for every gallon of fuel used.
The nine-speed automatic transmission that comes fitted to every Chrysler Pacifica is also a really good one.
It also helps that the nine-speed automatic transmission that comes fitted to every Chrysler Pacifica is also a really good one. We especially like how smooth and quick the gear changes are, and the transmission itself does an admirable job at choosing the most appropriate gear for the given scenario. Also worth pointing out is that, as a result of all those gear ratios, the engine is rarely out of its optimum power and torque bands, so you won’t need to keep your foot planted on the gas pedal for long when making progress. Chrysler does offer a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica, but we don’t feel it’s worth going for unless you’ll spend most of your time behind the wheel in built-up areas. Though the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid can travel on electric power alone for 30 miles, it has a less-powerful version of the base car’s 3.6-liter engine (248-hp and 230 lb-ft of torque, compared with 287-hp and 262 lb-ft), so real-world fuel economy won’t be drastically different once you’ve drained the charge from the batteries. It also takes a while to charge the battery packs from a standard 120-volt power source (up to 14 hours, allegedly), though Chrysler does claim that can be as little as two hours from a faster 240-volt charging point.
Standard equipment levels are also pretty good on the less expensive Chrysler Pacifica models.
In the lower specs, the Chrysler Pacifica represents fairly good value. Though the car’s base of $28,595 is a couple of grand more than the equivalent Kia Sedona’s, the Chrysler Pacifica in this guise is also less expensive to buy than the like-for-like Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. Standard equipment levels are also pretty good on the less expensive Chrysler Pacifica models. Even the most basic ‘LX’-spec models come with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, three-zone climate control, a reversing camera and the clever folding seat mechanism (assuming you don’t go for the hybrid model), with the $30,495 ‘Touring’ trim adding satellite radio and powered sliding rear doors. Both trims also have access to the $995 SafetyTec Package, which we feel is worth considering as it adds handy safety gear like blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and emergency autonomous braking to the spec sheet. Of the two trims, we’re more inclined to recommend the Touring spec, on the basis that it’s reasonably priced when compared with the base ‘LX’ and the higher-up, $34,495 ‘Touring L’ trim. In fact, include the SafetyTec package and $595 8.4-inch touchscreen interface, and you’ll have a Chrysler Pacifica that contains pretty much everything you’ll need to use on a day-to-day basis.
In its most recent NHTSA crash test, the Chrysler Pacifica scored the full five stars, and came out with some genuinely class-leading results.
That said, we do see the appeal of the extra standard-fit items in the Touring L (leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control), the $37,895 Touring L Plus (heated steering wheel, pair of rear seat touchscreen interfaces) and $42,495 Limited (ventilated front seats, three-pane sunroof, built-in vacuum cleaner), but it’s worth pointing out that these higher specs do start to eliminate the like-for-like pricing advantage the Chrysler Pacifica had in comparison with its like-for-like rivals. Of course, there’s a valid case for the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – especially as, for the time being, it’s the only hybrid minivan on the market. However, it is quite pricey ($41,995 for the ‘Premium’-trim models; $44,995 for the range-topping ‘Platinum’ spec), so we wouldn’t recommend this one unless you’ll spend a lot of your time driving in built-up areas, will have guaranteed access to a charging point or plan on owning the vehicle for a longer period of time. As the Chrysler Pacifica is an all-new car, we can’t discuss reliability levels just yet, though the track record of more recent Chrysler models does suggest things won’t be too bad with the Pacifica. Should anything go wrong, though, there are decent-by-class-standards three-years/36,000-miles bumper-to-bumper and five-years/60,000-miles powertrain warranties to fall back on. If it’s outright peace of mind you’re after, though, the reliability records of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna suggest you should consider those two over the Chrysler Pacifica until more solid data is available. Thankfully, the Chrysler Pacifica makes a more reassuring impression when it comes to safety. In its most recent NHTSA crash test, the Chrysler Pacifica scored the full five stars, and came out with some genuinely class-leading results. The Chrysler Pacifica also comes with front, side and curtain airbags, along with airbags for the sides of the front seats and the knees of the driver and the passenger riding shotgun, so this minivan should be more than up to the job of protecting the occupants should the worst happen.
Chrysler has a long history of making good, practical minivans, so it’s a testament to just how good the Chrysler Pacifica is that it ranks amongst one of the best and most competitive three-row family cars the company has ever produced. Though it doesn’t have quite the largest cargo capacity, the best fuel economy or the lowest asking price of a minivan in this segment, the Chrysler Pacifica stills stands out as a people carrier that’s very practical, affordable to run and reasonably well-priced, on top of being a comfortable, refined and well-thought-out family car. Overall, if you’re in the market for a seven or eight-seater vehicle (and especially if you aren’t interested in a higher-riding three-row SUV), then we recommend you seriously consider the Chrysler Pacifica.