Long-Term Review

2017 Chrysler Pacifica: Road Trip Home for Christmas

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author photo by Tommy Flanagan January 2018

For my road trip home for Christmas, I was handed the keys to our long-term 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. I've driven it around the Atlanta area, but never really considered taking it on a long road trip. After all, it's such a large vehicle, and with seating for seven people, it seems like a waste of space for just one person. Now, I know what you must be thinking. Why on earth would you want to drive a minivan home by yourself? Well, sometimes the best way to get to know a vehicle is to use it in a way you didn't think you would. Taking the Pacifica on a long road trip gave me the opportunity to see how good a driver it might be on the open road instead of just a daily commuter around town. Question is, can it pass muster as a road trip companion? Let's find out.

Let's Get This Road Trip Started

In the past, I've raved about the Pacifica. Its functionality, usefulness and overall practicality have gained high marks in my book. To me, it truly has set a standard in the minivan segment. With this in mind, I was anxious to hit the open road and test its road manners. I haven't taken it on a long trip during the time that we've had it, so the ride home would be a good time to test its roadworthiness. One criterion I always benchmark during a trip is seat comfort. Our long-term Limited comes standard with 8-way power seats and 4-way power lumbar. I'm pleased to say that after driving seven hours home, my back didn't ache and my legs weren't tired. I credit some of that to seat bottoms that come up to my knees. In the past, I've experienced stiffness in my legs due to small seat bottoms that tend to provide insufficient support. Another feature I find hard to live without is adaptive cruise control. The system is smooth during deceleration when approaching slower traffic. However, it does tend to pour on a bit too much power when passing and then quickly downshifts to get back up to speed.

During road trips, I tend to play around with as many techie features as I can. First off, I found that connecting my iPhone via BlueTooth was a snap, but it did take a while to sync up. Also, I found the Sirius XM Traffic feature to be helpful. It warned of traffic jams and road closures along my route.

A Few Bumps in the Road

I did experience a bit of frustration with the minivan during my trip. Road noise, even with active noise cancellation, was a little irritating at highway speeds. I didn't really notice it until I received a phone call and had a hard time hearing the caller. Another disappointment was the lack of Apple CarPlay availability. The good news is it'll be available in the 2018 model. I also experienced a bit of exasperation with the navigation system. At times, it wanted me to get off the main road and take secondary roads to a destination I had entered. I couldn't find anywhere within the system to see whether I was set for shortest or fastest distance. The good news is that after going through the navigation's settings, I was able to see that "Expressways" was checked off in areas to avoid. After unchecking this, my problem was resolved.

The Verdict

At the end of the day, if a car isn't a pleasure to drive, what's the point of owning it? After all, we spend an incredible amount of time behind the wheel. During my vacation, I logged just under 2,000 miles and 48 hours of drive time in the Pacifica. With that in mind, I have to say the Pacifica performed admirably during my vacation. It's comfortable, a pleasure to drive and gets decent gas mileage. During my vacation, I averaged an overall 26.5 miles per gallon, which is a little better than the EPA's 22 combined mpg rating.

Any day now, we will lose the 2017 Pacifica from our long-term fleet. And I'll definitely hate to see it go. It's changed how I look at minivans. To me, it set a high standard in the segment that will be hard to beat. Thankfully, a long-term 2018 Pacifica Hybrid will be coming soon to take its place.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica: Road Trip Home for Christmas - Autotrader