2017 Chrysler Pacifica TouringPosted on March 21st, 2016
New minivan appeals to active families
By Nina Russin
While they are arguably the most practical vehicles on the road, minivans have long carried the stigma of being soccer mom cars. Chrysler’s solution with the all-new 2017 Pacifica is a crossover-like exterior and versatile interior that’s pure minivan.
Available in five grades priced from $28,595, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is a sexy-looking car with available seating for up to eight passengers, an expanded roster of active safety features and the newest version of the automaker’s Uconnect infotainment technology. A new hybrid model that gets up to 80 miles-per-gallon with 30-mile pure electric range is a segment first.
Power comes from a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, delivering 22 mile-per-gallon average fuel economy. Engineers eighty-sixed the live rear axle from the Town & Country, replacing it with an independent setup that significantly improves ride comfort. The new car is about 300 pounds lighter, so while engine power remains the same, performance during acceleration and passing is improved.
An updated Stow ‘n Go system enables owners to fold second and third-row seats into the floor to create a large cargo bay that can haul camping equipment, bicycles, kayaks, skis and snowboards. Available tri-pane panoramic sunroof makes the interior a bright and light space that will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.
Base price for the Touring model tested is $30,495 excluding the $995 destination charge. Optional eight passenger seating and a power liftgate bring the final MSRP to $33,275.
Thinking outside the box
Since Chrysler invented the minivan, it’s not surprising that designers have redefined it by eliminating the traditional one-box architecture in favor of a sportier two-box design. Up front, a bright grille surrounding the winged logo is framed by large, wrap-around headlamps that lead to wide wheel arches. A sharply-raked windshield and drop-down roof enhance the car’s sporty stance.
Utilizing two-tone interior themes, designers were able to create organic shapes reminiscent of modern furniture. A high-tech gauge cluster inspired by watch designs and new available 8.4-inch center stack screen seem right at home.
The new center stack screen is glossy with better image resolution. A new Sirius Tune Start feature caches all music in the car owner’s presets. If the driver tunes into the station in the middle of a song, it will automatically start from the beginning. A favorites feature sends a pop-up to let the driver know when and on what station it is airing.
A Key Sense option enables parents to program a key with top speed limits and lock out undesirable radio channels.
Ten-inch touch-screens in the second row can multi-task, so kids can shuffle through several games at once. Connectivity features include USB, HDMI and Bluetooth interface. Kids and parents will both like the new ‘Are We There Yet” game that answers the question with real time updates about the destination.
A vacuum cleaner stowed in the second-row center console makes it easier to clean up everyday spills. The vacuum has 14.2-feet of hose in order to reach every corner of the interior. Small kids can now let themselves into the second row thanks to a small button on the door handle that is easier to use than the heavy sliding door mechanism in the Town & Country.
Test drive in Southern California
During a recent media event, we drove the Chrysler Pacifica around south Orange and San Diego counties on surface streets, highways and the winding two-lane Ortega Highway that snakes through sections of the Cleveland National Forest.
A new surround-view camera makes it easier to see obstacles in the car’s perimeter when pulling out of a parking spot. The rearview camera with cross traffic alert includes lines superimposed over the wide-angle image to show steering inputs. Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. It made a significant difference when a sudden downpour reduced visibility on the freeway to a few feet.
The standard 3.6-liter V-6 engine is a competent performer, delivering 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of peak torque. Although this is the same engine found in the Town & Country, weight reduction as compared to that model makes it perform better in the Pacifica: most noticeable in acceleration off the line.
The nine-speed automatic transmission performs fine during normal driving conditions but tended to hunt when we pushed the car on sections of the Ortega Highway.
A rear independent suspension replaces the live axle in the outgoing minivan, making a significant difference in ride comfort. Improvements in torsional rigidity improve steering feedback with good assist at low speeds and solid on-center response on the highway.
Engineers were able to achieve a 0.3 coefficient of drag, extending fuel economy and minimizing wind noise intrusion to the interior. The Harmon Kardon surround-sound audio system provides great entertainment for longer road trips.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Pacifica in firm, linear fashion.
The Chrysler Pacifica comes with eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist, rear backup camera, push button start, daytime running lamps and tire pressure monitoring.
The Chrysler Pacifica begins rolling into dealerships in April.
Like: Appealing exterior styling, versatile, stylish interior with new infotainment and active safety technology.
Dislike: Nine-speed automatic transmission tends to hunt on hills.
Model: Pacifica Touring
Base price: $30,495
As tested: $33,275
Horsepower: 287 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 262 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 18/28 mpg city/highway2017, Minivan 2017, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Chrysler, performance, pricing, standard safety