In sports, talking heads love the headline “Worst to First.” This can be said of Chrysler in the minivan market. Chrysler is largely responsible for the modern minivan market, dating back to the 1984 Dodge Caravan. But in its last iteration, the Town & Country fell well behind the competition, as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna have become the newer, more popular options. But for 2017, Chrysler has wiped the slate clean and brought forth a new minivan that is so different from the model it replaces that Chrysler has decided to change the name.
The new Chrysler Pacifica (a name that originally belonged to a short-lived crossover in the mid-2000s) blows away the competition with its innovative Stow & Go seating, which allowed the second and third rows to completely fold away into the floor, something no other minivan can offer. It features a V6 with strong acceleration and fuel economy, and a chassis with responsive handling. It offers impressive safety technology, an optional vacuum, and is the only minivan offered as a hybrid.
But the Pacifica’s Stow & Go seating has some downsides, and the van is a pricey option. If you opt for a Hybrid model, you lose the Stow & Go second row, and within the entire lineup, there is no all-wheel-drive option.
Are these factors enough to make or break the Pacifica for you? Read on to find out if the Chrysler Pacifica is the best minivan for you and your family.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Fast Facts
Seating: 7 standard, 8 optional with second row seat insert.
• Newest minivan in the market
• Clever, useful Stow & Go seating
• Tons of standard and optional features
• Innovative hands-free sliding doors and liftgate
• Unrivaled rear-seat entertainment systems
• Strong acceleration & sharp handling
• Solid fuel economy
• Only minivan offered as a hybrid
• Serious safety tech
• Stow & Go hurts seat comfort
• Hybrid loses fold-away second row
• No AWD … yet
• Pricey option in the market
Dealmakers: Chrysler Pacifica’s Top Lifestyle Features
What has Chrysler improved compared with its old minivan? Aside from everything, it is available with features that weren’t even considered when the Town & Country was around. From built-in vacuums to power sliding doors that open without your hands, the new Pacifica is one high-tech minivan.
Dealmaker: Unrivaled Stow & Go Seating
Some automakers offer a third row that folds into the floor. Chrysler is the only one that provides second and third row seating that completely fold away. Dubbed Stow & Go, the feature allows for seats to either be folded, or the space to be used for gear. Chrysler claims that there are 283 different potential seating configurations. It’s hard to argue with that sort of versatility.
Dealmaker: Newest Minivan in the Market
The minivan market has evolved at a rapid pace in the last decade. Remote power sliding doors was once a groundbreaking feature, but now minivans offer built-in vacuums, advanced safety and infotainment technology, and are more efficient than ever. In a lot of ways, newer is always better from a safety standpoint.
Dealmaker: Hands-Free Tailgate and Sliding Doors
The emergence of the “hands-free liftgate” has been a welcomed one for parents with their hands full … literally. If you have your keys in your pocket or purse and your hands are occupied, simply wave your foot under the sliding doors or liftgate and it automatically opens. Just one more arrow in the quiver of family-friendly features available on the Pacifica.
Dealmaker: the Only Minivan Offered as a Hybrid
IF you want more than the 18/28/22 (city/highway/combined) MPG offered by the conventional Pacifica, a Hybrid model takes the 3.6-liter V6 and adds a 16-kWh battery back underneath the second row. It can power the Pacifica Hybrid on electric-only power for up to 30 miles. It takes two hours to charge this battery pack with a specially installed 240-volt home charging system. All told, Chrysler claims an 80 MPG-equivalent (or MPGe). If you’re commuting around town and value fuel economy, the Pacifica Hybrid is a must-have minivan.
Dealmaker: Tons of Standard and Optional Features
The Pacifica comes standard with adjustable roof rails, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat with four-way lumbar control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with integrated audio controls, and Uconnect 5.0 — including six speakers, 5-inch color digital screen, USB/auxiliary inputs, and Bluetooth hands-free calling with voice-to-text message reply capability.
In addition, there are available Alpine 13-speaker and Harmon Kardon 20-speaker stereo systems, navigation infotainment systems, 8-passenger seating, parallel and perpendicular self-parking systems, a built-in vacuum, and many other options. There are also power-sliding doors and power rear hatch controls up front for the driver and a remote start system. The Pacifica is a minivan with the options of a luxury car.
Dealmaker: Unrivaled Rear-Seat Entertainment System
One of the great optional features is the Uconnect Theater. Two 10-inch touch screens built into the back of the front seats provide second-row passengers with plenty of fun entertainment options. In addition to the obvious DVD/Blu-Ray playback, it features an HDMI input, remote control and two pairs of headphones.
It also comes with built-in games like tic-tac-toe and checkers, but also educational options like the States Game. The two screens are networked, so the kids can play against each other. In the game of keeping kids occupied on long trips, this could be the greatest breakthrough yet.
Dealmaker: Serious Safety Tech and Auto Parking
There is nothing more important than keeping the little ones safe, and the Pacifica delivers the features to do so. In addition to the standard front and side impact airbags, LATCH child seat anchoring system, electronic stability control, backup camera, and tire pressure monitoring system, the Pacifica is available with some serious safety technology.
With ParkAssist, the Pacifica can park itself in either parallel or perpendicular spots. For pulling out of perpendicular spots, the rear cross-path detection system can spot oncoming cars that you can’t see. You can also get forward collision warning, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and a 360-degree camera system. These are all part of the Advanced SafetyTec package — one package that brings a suite of high-tech safety gear to the table, making it one of the most advanced vehicles in the minivan market.
Dealbreakers: Chrysler Pacifica’s Worst Lifestyle Features
Something had to give, right? In the pursuit of doing everything, the Pacifica had to give up something, but not much. Are these setbacks enough to turn you off from the Pacifica?
Dealbreaker: Stow & Go Impacts Seating Comfort
For minivan buyers who need a lot of different seating and cargo options, Stow & Go is a fantastic solution, but it has a downside. In order to make the second and third rows fold away seamlessly, the seats need to be thin. This impacts seat comfort, as U.S. News & World Report puts it, “The second-row seats aren’t as adjustable or comfortable as the second-row seats in other minivans.” Additionally, “The stowing mechanism also prevents Chrysler from adding a sliding function.” And the seats are firm compared with other minivans.
Dealbreaker: Hybrid Model Loses Stow & Go Second Row
If you appreciate the versatility of Stow & Go but are also interested in the fuel-saving abilities of the Pacifica Hybrid model, you can’t have both. To make room for the hybrid drivetrain’s battery pack, the second row seats are stationary. This is the ideal placement for a heavy battery pack, in the van’s center, but it means no second-row Stow & Go. The seats are removable, so if that is the compromise you want to make, it could work out.
Dealbreaker: No AWD Option … Yet
As of the initial publication of this review, there is no all-wheel-drive option for the Pacifica. The only option for AWD in the minivan segment is the Toyota Sienna. Buyers who want the all-weather handling benefits of all-wheel drive will either have to opt for a Sienna … or show a little patience. According to Ward’s Auto, the Pacifica architecture will support AWD. And though Chrysler officials are being coy with this information, it’s rumored the Pacifica may have an AWD option as soon as the 2018 model year.
Dealbreaker: Pricey Compared With Other Minivans
If you have a large or growing family, budgeting is always a concern. Making tough financial choices is just part of the game. If money is no object and need a minivan, the Pacifica is a great choice, but if you are on a budget, you may need to evaluate your needs. The Pacifica certainly has some impressive safety technology to keep your family safe, but the Advanced Safety Tech package is only available on the Touring-L Plus, Limited and Hybrid Limited models. While the Pacifica’s base pricing undercuts the Sienna and Odyssey, when you start adding options, the Pacifica becomes a pricey minivan. Getting the minivan with the creature comforts you desire could push the Pacifica out of your budget.
Tossup: Easily the Most Well Equipped Van, if You Pay Up
The Pacifica comes with a strong list of standard features, but if you want to get into the standout options and packages, you have to move to one of the upper trims. As we stated, this will set you back some cash. Check out the trims below to see if one has the features you want, and the price you can afford.
LX: (MSRP: $28,595) Stow & Go 2nd and 3rd rows, Stow & Go Driver’s Side power assist front seat, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, six-speaker stereo, 5-inch color screen, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, advanced multistage airbags, LATCH child seat anchor system, electronic parking brake, rear view camera, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system.
Touring: (MSRP $30,495, includes everything from LX, plus) Power sliding doors, automatic high beams, rear reading/courtesy lamps, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, remote keyless entry.
Touring-L: (MSRP $34,495, includes everything from Touring, plus) Leather seating, heated front seats, remote start, Blind-spot monitoring system, Park Sense Rear Parking assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Path Detection, universal garage door opener, manual second and third row shades
Touring-L Plus: (MSRP $37,895, includes everything from Touring-L, plus) Auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 115-volt wall-style power outlet, heated second row seats, Stow & Go assist one-button power sliding front passenger seat, heated steering wheel, “Super Console” with illuminated cup holders, Alpine 13-speaker premium stereo, 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, Uconnect Theater screens, USB video port, 3rd row USB power port.
Limited: (MSRP $42,495, includes everything from Touring-L Plus, plus) Touring-tuned suspension, hands-free power sliding doors and liftgate, LED fog lamps, dual HID headlights, power folding, heated side mirrors, with integrated turn signals, and auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, three-pane panoramic moonroofs, premium leather trim seating, ventilated front seats, Stow & Vac integrated vacuum.
Touring Hybrid: (MSRP TBA) Regenerative braking, blacked-out grille with bright surround, cloth seats, six speaker stereo, 8.4-inch touch screen.
Limited Hybrid: (MSRP TBA, includes everything from Touring Hybrid, plus) Leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second row, Park Sense semi-autonomous parking assistant, automatic high beams.
Dealmaker: The ‘Driver’s Minivan’
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Pacifica is how well the minivan drives. Sure, being the newest entrant in the market means it’s going to have the latest chassis and drivetrain tech, but critics have been very impressed with the handling.
Handling: Breaking the Mold With Solid Cornering
The Pacifica’s chassis setup and handling are precise and responsive. As U.S. News & World Report puts it, the Pacifica “defies most minivan stereotypes by providing engaging handling on winding back roads and through all kinds of curves.” The Pacifica Limited trim has a special chassis setup that makes it even more fun to drive.
Drivetrain: Surprisingly Smooth
The Pacifica features Chrysler’s venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This competent engine delivers power and fuel efficiency, and is paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission, sending power to the front wheels. In the past, the 9-speed has been known for less-than-smooth shifts. But as The Car Connection put it, “Acceleration is smart and the shifts are pretty crisp — the Pacifica has much less of the 9-speed clunks we’ve experienced in other Chrysler vehicles.”
• Engine: 3.6-Liter V6
• Output: 287 horsepower / 262 lb-ft of torque
• Transmission: 9-Speed Automatic
• Drivetrain: FWD
• 0-60 MPH: 7.5 sec
• Towing: 3600 lbs.
• Fuel economy: 18/28/22 (city/highway/combined)
Dealmaker: Top Safety Tech
There are two major safety organizations that test road cars and publish scores. They are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). NHTSA scores vehicles out of five stars, while the IIHS scores on a scale of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. Additionally, the IIHS offers “Top Safety Pick” recommendations, as well as “Top Safety Pick +” for vehicles with advanced crash avoidance and mitigation features.
The Pacifica has been tested by the IIHS, but not NHTSA. Though we can’t speculate as to the NHTSA results, it scored very well in IIHS testing, earning the best possible scores in every major test, resulting in a Top Safety Pick+ rating. The available blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning with autonomous braking all helped the Pacifica earned this status from the IIHS.
NHTSA Crash Test Data
|Minivan||NHTSA Overall Rating|
|Honda Odyssey||5/5 Stars|
|Kia Sedona||5/5 Stars|
|Toyota Sienna||5/5 Stars|
|Chrysler Pacifica||Not Rated|
|Nissan Quest||Not Rated|
IIHS Testing Awards
|Chrysler Pacifica||Top Safety Pick+|
|Honda Odyssey||Top Safety Pick|
|Kia Sedona||Top Safety Pick|
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica recently earned a Top Safety Pick+ accolade from the IIHS. It earned the best score of “Good” in every major crash test, including Small Overlap Front, Moderate Overlap Front, Side, Roof Strength, and Head Restraints crash testing. It also has an “Advanced” rating for collision avoidance technology, and represents the gold standard for a high-tech safety vehicle in 2016.
The 2017 Pacifica comes with a full array of front and side impact airbags, LATCH child seat anchoring system, electronic parking brake with Safe Hold, electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, ParkView rear-view camera, remote keyless entry, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Safety Tech: Setting the Bar
As the newest entry to the minivan segment, it should come as little surprise that the Pacifica has the most advanced safety technology on the block. The SafetyTec Group is optional on the LX and Touring models, and is standard on the Touring-L, Touring-L Plus, and Limited trims. It includes the ParkSense rear parking assistant, which actually backs up the the Pacifica for you into either a parallel or perpendicular parking spot. It also includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection system.
Above that is the Advanced SafetyTec Group, which is available on the Touring-L Plus, Limited and Hybrid Limited models. This package takes everything from the SafetyTec Group, and adds forward collision warning with emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with the ability to stop and go with traffic, rain-sensing wipers, lane-departure warning, and 360-degree surround view monitor.
Reliability: Too Early to Tell
Because the Pacifica is such a new vehicle, J.D. Power initial quality surveys are still out, and results have not come in yet. As these IQS results become available, we’ll be sure to include this in our buying guide.
Tiebreakers: Comparing the Pacifica to the Competition
It’s hard to find an area where the Pacifica is objectively outgunned by the competition. Perhaps the one area is overall cargo volume, where the Pacifica has 140.5 cubic feet compared with the Toyota Sienna‘s 150 cubic feet. But you need to remove the second row in the Sienna to get that number. Ultimately, you’ll find rival vans excel in one specific metric or another, but the Pacifica does more things better. If rear seat comfort is a big priority, you’ll find some rivals deliver more comfortable rear seats.
Toyota Sienna (MSRP $29,750-$47,310)
The Sienna has long been one of the cornerstones of the minivan segment. It offers AWD and serious cargo space, but lacks some of the innovative features that the Pacifica has. You won’t find a vacuum or hands-free sliding doors on the Sienna.
Sienna vs Pacifica:
• Offers AWD (Pacifica doesn’t)
• 2nd row needs to be removed, but can slide forward, or slide back for greater legroom
• Sienna has more cargo space (150 cubic ft w/ second row removed and 3rd row folded)
Learn more about the Toyota Sienna here.
Honda Odyssey (MSRP $29,550-$45,025)
The Odyssey is the other cornerstone of the minivan market. It is barely newer than the Sienna in design, but offers some newer innovations, such as a vacuum. You’ll find improved seating comfort with the Odyssey as well.
Odyssey vs. Pacifica:
• More comfortable rear seats (Stow & Go less comfortable)
• Features Honda LaneWatch (exclusive safety feature to Odyssey)
• Also has built-in vacuum (similar to Stow & Vac)
Learn more about the Honda Odyssey here.
Kia Sedona (MSRP $26,400-$39,900)
As the least expensive option in the segment, the Sedona has a surprisingly quiet and luxurious interior. But many critics pan its sluggish highway acceleration, and handling that feels a little “off.” If you are looking for a van on a budget, the Sedona is the ideal option.
Sedona vs. Pacifica:
• Equally simple controls layout
• Lower price than Pacifica
• Falls short on performance
Learn more about the Kia Sedona here.
Nissan Quest (MSRP $26,580-$43,230)
Positioned as the upscale option, it does feature a high-end interior, with standard push-button start and available leather seating that is incredibly soft. But it has fewer seats than other options in the class, and those seats can be neither be removed nor folded into the floor. It also has far and away the least cargo space. This is a minivan for carting adults around.
Quest vs. Pacifica:
• Less cargo space than Pacifica
• Inflexible seating configuration
• Luxurious leather available
Learn more about the Nissan Quest here.
Should I Buy a Chrysler Pacifica?
The Chrysler Pacifica is the newest minivan in the segment, features some of the most advanced safety and infotainment tech, and some of the most useful versatility features. There are many places where the Pacifica can claim itself the best (or at least can share that accolade).
So Which to Buy?
• If you love versatile access to seating and cargo space: Pacifica
• If you require the most cargo space: Sienna
• If you want the latest safety and infotainment tech: Pacifica
• If you must have rear seat entertainment for the kids: Pacifica
• If you’re on a tight budget: Sedona
Dealmakers vs. Dealbreakers Final Tally
Dealmaker: Clever, useful Stow & Go seating
Dealmaker: Newest minivan in the market
Dealmaker: Strong acceleration & sharp handling
Dealmaker: Solid fuel economy
Dealmaker: Only minivan offered as a hybrid
Dealmaker: Innovative hands-free sliding doors & liftgate
Dealmaker: Tons of standard & optional features
Dealmaker: Advanced safety technology
Dealmaker: Unrivaled rear-seat entertainment system
Dealbreaker: Lagging rear seat comfort
Dealbreaker: Hybrid loses Stow & Go second row
Dealbreaker: No AWD (yet)
Dealbreaker: Gets pricey with options
Final Tally: +5
Market Average: +3.8
Rival minivans might excel in one area or another, like rear seat comfort (Odyssey), overall cargo space (Sienna), or price (Sedona). But the Pacifica has more content and more advanced features than any other minivan in the market. The combination of a built-in vacuum, Stow & Go seating, and hands-free sliding doors provides a three-part combo punch that makes it hard to ignore the Pacifica as the ultimate family vehicle.
Then there is the Uconnect Theater group. With kids’ dwindling attention spans, an integrated, networked seat-back touch-screen system could be the best feature of all. The built-in games, USB charging ports, and DVD/Blu-ray capabilities are all stellar, but the fact those games can be played against one another is a way to occupy the little ones that you almost can’t put a price on. The numbers don’t lie; it’s hard to argue for any van other than the Pacifica right now.