The evolution of the Chrysler Pacifica has taken a few detours, including a brief body style change to a mid-size crossover for a few years in the early 2000s. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is parents’ universal preference for the Pacifica over other minivans. It is, in a word, cooler than any other minivan (or less uncool, depending on your level of minivan bias). Even a used Chrysler Pacifica is a highly sought-after option for most parents.
Let’s face it: the child-rearing years are a blur of messy, labor-intensive dirty work, endless soccer games, and lost permission slips. Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you that life hacks and shortcuts are sanity savers. Sadly for the hipster parent set, that might mean accepting that it’s time to trade in that sporty coupe or crossover for a more practical and convenient minivan.
We can almost feel the collective eye rolls as parents everywhere cling tightly to the last vestiges of pre-kid coolness. For many, minivans symbolize the drastic shift from trendy restaurants and sleeping in on Saturday morning to sippy cups and dirty diapers…and minivans. We think the perfect antidote to America’s minivan angst is the Chrysler Pacifica.
Defying conventional (boring) minivan design, the Pacifica pulls off an SUV-like curb appeal, and the cabin is equipped with plenty of useful extras to help parents tackle the rigors of carpools, grocery store runs, and family road trips more comfortably and conveniently. Add a dash of luxury, and suddenly the minivan years don’t seem so bad after all.
What are our favorite Pacifica features? We take a closer look at one of our favorite model years, the all-new, completely redesigned 2017 Pacifica. Replacing the newly retired Town & Country in Chrysler’s minivan lineup, the 2017 Pacifica ushered in a new level of luxury and drivability that succeeded in winning over SUV holdouts in numbers even Chrysler didn’t expect.
2017 Pacifica Overview
We’ll cut to the chase. There’s only one reason to buy a minivan: utility. At least that was the case before the new Pacifica came along. At the time of its launch, the 2017 Pacifica successfully challenged that notion, boasting a long list of best-in-class features, including aerodynamic performance and efficiency, expansive interior space, and next-generation infotainment technology. It was also the first minivan to offer hands-free sliding doors and liftgate and luxury extras like a tri-pane panoramic sunroof.
The 2017 Pacifica cemented Chrysler’s commitment to continue building minivans, a bold move that didn’t come with guaranteed success. Remember, though, this is the automaker that invented the minivan body style, so it’s comforting to know they still believe it has a place in the SUV-obsessed American new-vehicle market. With this newly redesigned Pacifica, Chrysler sought to reinvigorate the category and attract style-conscious families – and that’s exactly what happened.
Available in six trims – the LX, Touring, Touring L, Touring L Plus, and Limited – the Pacifica offered buyers an affordable sub-$30,000 entry point. Fully equipped, that number easily reached into the high $40,000 range. Chrysler later launched a plug-in hybrid model, the first of its kind in a minivan, which was available in two trims – Premium and Platinum – and started at just over $43,000. Early hybrid buyers benefitted from a $7,500 federal tax credit to offset the higher price, keeping the plug-in version closely aligned price-wise with its gas-powered sibling.
The Pacifica maintained its famous Stow ’n Go seat system (the sales brochure advertises 243 different seating configurations), simplifying operation and adding an eighth removable seat in the front row for additional passenger volume. A new Stow ’n Vac onboard vacuum kept the relentless carpet-bombing of Cheerio dust to a manageable level, and cargo storage cubbies stored the endless avalanche of kid detritus out of view.
Performance and Powertrains
It seems odd to highlight performance in a minivan review, but in this case, it’s one of the 2017 Pacifica’s most important – and dad-approved – attributes. All Pacifica minivans are front-wheel drive and come standard with a powerful V6 3.6-Liter Pentastar engine that generates 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, plenty of juice to tow up to 3,600 pounds.
The first-ever Plug-in hybrid minivan included a slightly modified version of the same 3.6-liter V6 and a 16.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack capable of a driving range of 30 miles. The battery reached full charge in just two hours on a 240-volt connection and a far slower 14 hours on a traditional household 120-volt. The hybrid plug-in Pacifica featured an eFlite electrically variable transmission with early regenerative braking technology.
Gas-powered Pacificas delivered fuel economy ratings of 18 MPG city and 28 MPG highway, while the plug-in boasted an efficient 84 MPGe rating. The Pacifica sat on an all-new platform that was more lightweight (250 pounds lighter, to be exact) than its predecessor. It was designed for better aerodynamics and a lower center of gravity to prevent body roll. Its unibody construction is stiffer and typically allows for more agile handling.
With an overall length of 203.8 inches, the 2017 Pacifica is massive, but because Chrysler designed every inch of the exterior to minimize wind resistance, it’s surprisingly fuel-efficient and nimble. It accelerates quickly and offers superior crash test ratings from both the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a not-surprising fact but an important one, nonetheless.
Here’s the sweet spot for mom and dad: the 2017 Pacifica comes with a plethora of advanced technology designed for two important functions: entertainment and convenience. The 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen runs on Chrysler’s competent Uconnect operating system. It features available navigation and an optional WiFi Hotspot (note: it’s 3G).
While 2017 pre-dates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity (it’s standard on the 2018 model), there are ports for connecting smartphones to stream music. The audio system is also equipped with the ability to connect to SiriusXM satellite radio. A 360-degree view multi-camera system gives drivers a bird’s eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings, displayed conveniently on the touchscreen. It’s a helpful parking aid, as well as a second set of eyes for backing out of parking spaces.
We saved the best for last, namely the available Uconnect Theater rear-seat entertainment system (a.k.a. the sanity saver). It features two nicely sized 10-inch HD touchscreen displays mounted on front setbacks and includes several games and other entertainment features that will keep the kids busy and engaged during long road trips or an afternoon of errands. The system also contains HDMI and USB inputs for viewing content from other handheld devices.
The available 20-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system distributes sound across 13 acoustically appropriate locations within the cabin. Since the Pacifica is engineered with an Active Noise Cancellation feature that emits white noise to effectively neutralize engine and wind noise, the sound is crisp and concert-grade. There’s also an innovative KeySense feature that lets drivers program individual keys with speed and audio volume limiters via a handy touchscreen app.
The Pacifica Is More Than Just a Minivan
The 2017 Pacifica can offer a lot of things, but its biggest superpower is its ability to help you overcome your minivan bias. It looks less like a minivan than any other van in its class, delivers potent and responsive acceleration, and is better equipped than some families’ living rooms. Opt for all the technology bells and whistles, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t pull the trigger sooner. With a 2017 Pacifica in your driveway, you might even end up being the neighborhood trendsetter.