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2017 Chrysler Pacifica: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2017

The term "kicking and screaming" is often closely associated with minivans. Besides the kids inevitably being dragged into minivans en route to grandma's house, the term also shows up a lot in reference to mom and dad's decision to buy one in the first place. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica might be able to help on both fronts, with an abundance of kid-friendly features and handsome styling that just might make you forget you're driving the ultimate mom-and-dad mobile.

Indeed, during the course of our 12-month, long-term road test, the Pacifica has already won over some of our own minivan-weary editors, while earning a spot on our must drive vehicles list. This is certainly not your mom's Chrysler minivan, nor even the mediocre Town & Country it replaces. It's all-new and massively improved -- it's also the only minivan available as a plug-in hybrid.

So, we can go on, but really, the Pacifica should be on the short list of any minivan buyer. It's not a slam-dunk choice, but it definitely deserves special credit for being the one that really makes you rethink your anti-minivan stance.

 What's New for 2017?

The Chrysler Pacifica is all-new for 2017, replacing the Town & Country as the brand's minivan. One thing that's truly new is the first-of-its-kind Pacifica Hybrid.

 What We Like

Up-to-date, family-friendly tech and convenience features; versatile Stow 'n Go seats; un-minivan styling; classy cabin design; user-friendly tech interface; unique plug-in hybrid model

 What We Don't

Stow 'n Go seats less comfortable than those of rivals; difficult-to-read gauges; some clunky transmission behavior; entertainment and safety tech restricted to top trims

 How Much?

$29,000-$45,000

 Fuel Economy

The regular Pacifica is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine (287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque) paired only to front-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission. An automatic stop/start system helps you save gas. Its estimated fuel economy is 18 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving.

The Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid featuring a modified version of the regular Pacifica's engine, aided by two electric motors to produce a total of 260 hp. It will go an estimated 33 miles on electricity alone before becoming a regular hybrid, capable of 32 mpg combined. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you will spend an average of $900 per year on electricity and gasoline, versus $1,650 for the regular Pacifica.

 Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Pacifica is available in LX, Touring, Touring Plus, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and Limited trim levels. The Pacifica Hybrid is available in Premium and Platinum trims.

The base LX ($29,000) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, seven-passenger seating with Chrysler's Stow 'n Go middle row, a fold-flat 60/40-split third row, an 8-way power driver seat (4-way lumbar), 3-zone manual climate control, a rearview camera, a 5-in Uconnect touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, one USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and a 6-speaker sound system.

The Touring ($31,000) adds automatic headlights, power-sliding doors, passive keyless entry and push-button start and satellite radio.

The Touring Plus ($35,000) adds upgraded halogen headlights, foglights, a power liftgate, 3-zone automatic climate control, and rear row sunshades.

The Touring-L ($35,000) adds chrome trim, roof rails, remote ignition, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and leather upholstery.

The Touring-L Plus ($38,300) adds an 8-way power passenger seat, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, an upgraded front center console, an auto-dimming mirror, a 13-speaker Alpine sound system, the 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen interface (optional on all but LX), extra USB ports and the Uconnect Theater package (two 10-in seatback touchscreens, Blu-Ray player, HDMI and USB video inputs, wireless headphones, household-style outlet).

The Uconnect Theater is an option on the Limited ($42,900), which nevertheless comes standard with hands-free sliding doors, bi-xenon headlamps, LED foglamps, power-folding and driver-side auto-dimming mirrors, upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim, ventilated front seats, a power-folding third row, an integrated vacuum cleaner, a panoramic sunroof over the first two rows, a fixed glass panel over the third and a navigation system integrated into the 8.4-inch Uconnect system (optional on all others). Also included are 18-in wheels and a suspension upgrade that are available on all but the LX and Touring trims.

Most of the extra equipment found on upper trim levels is not available on those below. There are some shared options, however, including the second-row middle seat that increases capacity to eight. Available on the Touring-L Plus and Limited trims is the Advanced SafetyTec Group, which adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic braking, lane-keeping assistance, front and rear parking sensors, an automatic parking system, automatic wipers and automatic highbeams. The Limited alone can be optioned with the Uconnect Theater and Sound Group, which adds a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system to the Uconnect Theater items.

The Hybrid Premium ($42,000) is comparable to the Touring-L, albeit with the 8.4 Connect system with navigation included as standard. The only option is a DVD entertainment system with a single 10-in overhead screen, DVD player, auxiliary audio inputs and wireless headphones. Both hybrids have sliding second-row seats in place of Stow 'n Go.

The Hybrid Platinum ($45,000) is similar to the Limited, but comes standard with the Advance SafetyTec Group and Uconnect Theater equipment. There are no options.

 Safety

Standard safety equipment includes stability control, antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags, front-knee airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags. A rearview camera is also included. The SafetyTec Group optional on the LX and Touring and standard on all others, includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems and rear parking sensors that can trigger automatic braking. The Advanced SafetyTec Group is optional on the Touring-L Plus and Limited, and standard on the Hybrid Platinum, and includes forward-collision warning and automatic braking and lane keeping assistance.

The government gave the Pacifica top 5-star ratings for overall, frontal and side crash protection. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick+ for its best possible ratings in crash tests and for its frontal crash prevention system.

 Behind the Wheel

The Pacifica is leaps and bounds better to drive than the Town & Country it replaces. If you're a Chrysler minivan family, you're in for a big upgrade -- it's smoother, quieter and exponentially more refined. If, however, you're new to the minivan thing or coming from a competitor model, the Pacifica frankly is about what you'd expect from the segment's other entries. That's a good thing. Expect tidy handling for such a big vehicle, strong power from its V6 engine and a comfy ride that won't jostle everyone about or make them sick with high seas body motions. The 9-speed transmission can be slow to react at times, but we don't think it's that big of an issue.

Where the Pacifica really shines is its attractive cabin design that only gets better as you go up the trim level ladder. In Touring-L Plus and Limited guise, the Pacifica could easily be described as a luxury van. The improved Stow 'n Go second-row seats now drop more easily into the floor and can be bolstered by a handy middle seat that increases capacity to eight. Sadly, they still aren't quite as comfortable or adjustable as those of competitors.

As for that new plug-in hybrid model, you can read about it more thoroughly in our Pacifica Hybrid First Drive, but in short, no other minivan can touch its efficiency. If you do most of your driving dropping off the kids at school and running errands nearby, its 33-mile electric range should be more than adequate and you'll rarely need to visit a gas station. You could pay back its price premium in three to five years based on fuel savings alone.

 Other Cars to Consider

2018 Honda Odyssey -- If you're only going to consider one other minivan, make sure it's Honda's completely redesigned Odyssey. It has its own bag of family-friendly minivan tricks, along with an improved interior and technology.

2017 Kia Sedona -- The Sedona was one of our must drive vehicles of 2016. Like the Pacifica, it helps you forget you're driving a minivan, while delivering excellent value for your money and a superior warranty.

2017 Toyota Sienna -- The Sienna is getting on in years and definitely can't match all of the state-of-the-art feature content available on the Pacifica's upper trims. However, it compares favorably to lower trim levels, and still boasts a comfortable interior, Toyota's superior reliability and in its SE trim level, a sharper driving experience.

Read 2017 Chrysler Pacifica vs 2017 Toyota Sienna: Which is Better?

 Autotrader's Advice

Most of the extras included on the range-topping Touring-L Plus and Limited are mostly frivolities, so it's a real shame that they're the only way to get advanced safety tech and the Uconnect Theater rear-seat entertainment system. Those trims would therefore be our choices if price was no option, but as it most usually is, the Touring-L is probably the Pacifica's sweet spot.

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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: New Car Review - Autotrader