Chrysler Pacifica re-energizes minivan segment

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We all know that even when minivans were the hottest vehicle on the market (yes, there was such a time) they were never cool, never hip, and never the first choice of any dad who considered himself anything other – than a dad.

I get it.

Taking the leap into family life changes everything. Until you realize how thorough the change is and how practical matters like choosing a minivan to help move the bodies, car seats, baby bags, etc. is critical to maintaining your own sanity – you accept the possibilities.

With the new Chrysler Pacifica, this is not your parents’ minivan, and the ‘possibilities’ are thankfully very impressive regarding technology, power on-demand and overall driving performance. All of this on top of the minivan’s sweet spot – tons of interior cabin space.

New Approach

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is all-new with an enhanced upscale and refined minivan that easily re-energizes the static segment whose buyers often say it was ‘not my first choice.’ Most of the stigma of minivans can never be shed because there is only so much you can do with the exterior style and shape – dramatically changing moves it into the SUV category. But the Pacifica is different.

Longer, leaner and cleaner lines make the Pacifica look as close to a crossover as you can possibly get without being one. A hybrid version, which is a first in the segment, further defines the groundbreaking market Pacifica may demand. Exterior lines, including a wonderful sloping roofline, delivers a sporty feel to a minivan (did I just say that?).

Cabin Comforts

My tester was a welcoming cabin that plops you down low in the big captain’s chairs, with generous glass surround that opens up things even more. Thanks to the huge panoramic sunroof, this cabin feels as big as any I’ve been in, though it is not.

The dash delivers a gauge cluster that is sporty clean and simple to glance and grab information. Soft-touch surfaces are the norm and fit and finish was better than average in every part of the cabin. Look for an intuitive infotainment interface that allows you to drag-and-drop icons like a smartphone and provides immediate feedback to make decisions in less time and with less effort.

Seating in all three rows is very comfortable and created for long periods of time on the road. Front row seats have endless power adjustments and row-two offers great head and legroom. The third-row Stow N’ Go bench can be stowed into the floor via an electronic button that initiates a swift three-step folding process. With all seats folded flat, the Pacifica will haul an impressive 140.5 cu-ft of anything you might need for the family.

Technology

On the fun side for the kids, a Blu-Ray DVD player goes to the rear LCD screens that can be individually controlled for each screen. Those same screens have kids games integrated into them, so you likely will not hear much from the kiddies during transit.

I loved the 360-degree outdoor camera, which offers peace of mind around the vehicle. The large bin down in front of the center console can handle phones or tablets while the many cubbies scattered across the cabin provide well thought out storage options. USB ports and 12-volt connectors are plentiful for devices.

Power

The Pacifica offers an agreeable 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, it is the same one in base Chargers and Challengers. Pumping out 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, with a 9-speed automatic transmission, it does manage to feel sporty – even though it is a minivan that can tow 3,600 lbs. The center stack has a knob that controls the PRND status, which takes a few days to get used to. FCA claims 22 MPG combined, which is good for a V6-powered minivan.

For the $28,995 entry fee, Pacifica provides enough compatibility for family needs and enough technology to damper the strain of transporting the fam anywhere in a classy cabin that is at the leading edge of the new minivan segment.



Previously from Autos