If you’re looking for information on a newer Chrysler Pacifica, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Review
Dear fellow parents, you’re not alone in your squeamishness about the upcoming purchase of a minivan. We’ve been there, we feel your pain. But at least know that the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica makes the switch to the dreaded "m" word substantially easier.
You see, we lived with a new Pacifica during a 12-month, long-term road test. During that time, we found it to be uber-practical and great for carrying people. That’s to be expected, but its abundance of kid-friendly features kept the wee ones in back occupied, while the handsome styling inside and out made us forget we were driving the ultimate mom-and-dad mobile. Plus, if you get a top trim level — as we did — you’ll find a shockingly well-equipped vehicle that can be unabashedly described as a luxury van.
In other words, it’s a different sort of minivan, and we haven’t even mentioned the unique plug-in hybrid model that should significantly reduce your trips to the gas station. Really, the Pacifica is a must test-drive, and although cross-shopping with other minivans is recommended, we definitely think it’s a top choice.
What’s New for 2018?
Despite being introduced only last year, the Pacifica gets key updates for 2018. Every trim level now comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind spot monitoring and rear parking sensors that include an automatic emergency stop function. That includes the new base L trim level, which brings with it a $2,000 lower price of entry. All also come with at least a 7-inch touchscreen. See the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica models for sale near you
What We Like
Un-minivan styling; classy cabin design; user-friendly tech interface; unique plug-in hybrid model; family-friendly tech and convenience features; versatile Stow ‘n Go seats
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
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 9-speed automatic transmission. Its estimated fuel economy is 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. An automatic stop/start system helps you save gas, but is not available on the base L, which consequently gets 18 mpg in the city.
The 2018 Chrysler 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 $950 per year on electricity and gasoline, versus $1,750 for the regular Pacifica.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Pacifica is available in L, LX, Touring Plus, Touring L, Touring L Plus and Limited trim levels. The Pacifica Hybrid is only available in Touring Plus, Touring L and Limited. All come with 7-passenger seating standard with 8-passenger seating being an option for all but the L and Hybrid trims.
The base L ($27,000) comes standard with 17-in steel wheels, heated mirrors, blind spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic warning system, a backup camera, rear parking sensors, a reverse automatic emergency stop function, a second-row bench seat, a fold-flat 60/40-split third row, a 7-in Uconnect touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, one USB port, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an auxiliary audio jack and a 6-speaker sound system.
The base LX ($29,800) adds 17-in alloy wheels, a "Touring-tuned" suspension," 3-zone manual climate control, an 8-way power driver seat (4-way lumbar), Chrysler’s Stow ‘n Go captain’s chairs and steering wheel audio controls.
The Touring Plus ($32,600) adds exterior chrome trim, automatic headlights, foglights, a power liftgate, power-sliding doors, remote ignition, proximity entry and push-button start, 3-zone automatic climate control, second-row sunshades and satellite radio.
The Touring L ($35,700) adds roof rails, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and third-row sunshades. A single overhead display with a DVD player is available on the LX, Touring Plus and Touring L.
The Touring L Plus ($38,900) adds an 8-way power passenger seat, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming mirror, extra USB ports, an 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen interface (includes a 13-speaker Alpine sound system, both optional on Touring L) and the Uconnect Theater package (two 10-in seatback touchscreens, Blu-Ray player, HDMI and USB video inputs, wireless headphones and household-style outlet).
The Uconnect Theater is an option on the Limited ($43,800), which nevertheless comes standard with 18-in wheels, hands-free sliding doors, bi-HID 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 navigation integrated into the 8.4-in touchscreen (optional on 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, Touring L Plus and Limited trims is the Advanced SafetyTec Group (see Safety section). 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 Touring Plus ($40,000), Hybrid Touring L ($42,000) and Hybrid Limited ($45,000) are largely in-keeping with their non-hybrid counterparts. Key exceptions include the 8.4-in touchscreen standard on every trim and the deletion of Stow ‘n Go in favor of fixed captain’s chairs. Advanced SafetyTec and Uconnect Theater are also only available on the Limited.
Standard safety equipment includes stability control, antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags, front-knee airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags, a backup camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning system and rear parking sensors that can trigger automatic braking. The Advanced SafetyTec Group, available on upper trims (see above) adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic braking, lane-keep assist, front parking sensors, an automatic parking system, automatic wipers and automatic highbeams.
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 for crash protection and prevention.
Behind the Wheel
The Pacifica is much better to drive than previous Chrysler vans. If you’re used to those, 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 make the kids 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 the unique 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 easily pay back its price premium within three to five years.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Toyota Sienna — New tech for 2018 maintains the Sienna’s competitiveness. It also boasts extra-comfy second-row seats, Toyota’s superior reliability and a sharper driving experience in its SE trim level.
2018 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.
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.