It’s been more than 30 years since Chrysler introduced the minivan to the American market, and while this ultimate people mover has fallen out of favor with consumers who prefer the look and feel of crossovers, Chrysler is taking steps to win them back. The new Pacifica (yes, the same name of the wagonlike vehicle Chrysler sold through 2008) will feature close to 40 all-new innovations when it goes on sale in a few months. And the biggest news — Pacifica will be the first hybrid minivan.
“The all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is truly a no-compromises minivan, giving customers everything they need or want,” said Timothy Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for FCA in North America. “The all-new Chrysler Pacifica was thoughtfully designed and engineered to provide unsurpassed levels of comfort, convenience, technology and functionality, making it the perfect combination for modern families.”
It’s hard to say (or admit) that a minivan actually looks sporty, but the Pacifica comes close. It is wider and lower than the outgoing minivans, and optional 20-inch wheels make a nice addition.
Some parents evaluate minivans according to how well the vehicles keep passengers happy, which shouldn’t be a problem with the new Uconnect Theater entertainment system. Rear-seat passengers will be able to watch movies, play built-in games, connect personal devices to surf the Internet and stream content on two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens.
Comfort & Convenience
Three different levels of Chrysler’s Uconnect systems are available on Pacifica. The top-level Uconnect 8.4N features an 8.4-inch touchscreen, navigation with voice-destination entry and 3-D terrain. Also available are Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM Travel Link and SiriusXM Traffic.
Some innovations that help Pacifica stand out from the crowd: sliding side doors, and a rear hatch that can be operated hands-free — activated with the wave of a foot underneath them. Heated and ventilated seats are available, as is remote start — a nice feature for frosty mornings. Pacifica will also be available with Stow ‘n Vac — an integrated vacuum that reaches all four corners of the van for easy cleanups.
Pacifica carries a number of advanced safety technologies, including a 360-degree surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, advance brake assist, electronic roll mitigation, trailer-sway control and lane departure warning. Pacifica also offers ParkSense Park Assist, which can provide assistance for parallel or perpendicular parking.
The Pacifica Hybrid features a 16 kw lithium-ion battery that can provide up to 30 miles of electric-only operation. In city driving, Chrysler estimates a rating of 80 MPGe. Total horsepower from the hybrid powertrain is estimated around 260, which should provide more than adequate performance. Batteries are stored under the second-row floor, preserving the ample cargo space in the rear as well as the Stow ‘n Go seats in the third row.
Unique to the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is its innovative electrically variable transmission. The device features two electric motors — both are capable of driving the vehicle’s wheels for much better efficiency than a typical hybrid. The Pacifica Hybrid can also be plugged in, providing a full charge in just 2 hours at 240 volts.
Pacifica will also be available with an updated 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. Power is rated at 287 horses — a number that Chrysler claims to be class leading. For added fuel efficiency, engine stop-start technology is standard for Pacifica. Fuel economy is expected to improve; however, EPA numbers will be coming at a later date.