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2020 Chrysler Pacifica Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2020

What can we say? We like minivans, and we like the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica in particular. Among the features contributing to Pacifica's standout status is its standard Stow 'n Go second- and third-row seats. Folding flat into the floor, the result is a flat cargo area large enough to accommodate a full sheet of plywood between the wheel wells. When the seats are in place, there are in-floor storage bins beneath them and seating for seven. As you might imagine, the multiple seating configurations fit all sorts of needs.

Beyond just the clever seating, though, Pacifica is loaded with family-friendly features and connectivity technology. The styling inside and out is unique and contemporary. Furthermore, Chrysler is adding all-wheel drive to Pacifica's bag of tricks in mid-2020. There is even a plug-in hybrid version (without the Stow 'n Go seats) that's more fuel-efficient. We always recommend cross-shopping, but our enthusiasm for Pacifica couldn't be much higher.

What's New for 2020?

The entry-level L and next-step-up LX grades from 2019 are gone, providing the basis for the new Voyager minivan in Chrysler's lineup. In their place is a new Touring Grade. This realignment of trims has pushed Pacifica upmarket. Following on the popularity of last year's blacked-out S Appearance Package, Limited versions of both the gas and hybrid models qualify for the Red S Appearance Package. All Pacifica Hybrid models sport a honeycomb grille pattern. All 8-passenger gas Pacifica models offer a dual-pane panoramic sunroof as an option. Touring and Touring L grades get driver-seat memory as standard. See the 2020 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 standard seats
  • Difficult-to-read gauges
  • Some clunky transmission behavior
  • Most safety tech is optional

How Much?

$35,240 Gas/$41,490 Hybrid-$46,190 Gas/$47,340 Hybrid

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 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. In the second or third quarter of 2020, Pacifica will add an all-wheel drive option.

The Pacifica Hybrid uses a variation of the regular van's 3.6-liter V6 paired with two motor/generators and a large battery pack that is fully replenished by plugging into an outside electricity source. Total system output is 287 hp. It can travel 32 miles on electricity alone, then achieves 30 mpg as a regular hybrid once that all-electric range is depleted. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, your average fuel cost of electricity plus gasoline (based on national averages) would be $950. The average fuel cost for the regular Pacifica would be $1,550. That gap will widen the more you utilize the all-electric range.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is available as a gas model in Touring, Touring L, Touring L Plus and Limited trim levels. The Pacifica Hybrid comes in Touring, Touring L and Limited grades. Seven-passenger capacity is standard, including the base L's bench seat and the Stow 'n Go folding captain's chairs found on all other non-hybrid trim levels. An optional second-row middle seat increases seating capacity to eight. All pricing includes the $1,495 factory destination charge.

The base Touring ($35,240 gas, $41,490 hybrid) comes with power-sliding side doors, power rear lift gate, full power accessories, power second-row windows, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, foldable power heated outboard mirrors, 17-in alloy wheels, rain-sensing front wipers, a "Touring-tuned" suspension," 3-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote keyless entry with remote start, second-row sunshades, cruise control, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, 3.5-in driver-information screen, cloth seating, Stow 'n Go seating, an 8-way power driver seat (4-way lumbar), steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Uconnect 4 with 8.4-in touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, 6-speaker audio system, satellite-radio capability, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, USB port, eight air bags, forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rearview camera and rear-park assist.

The Touring L ($38,240 gas, $43,790 hybrid) adds the Stow 'n Place roof rack, grocery-bag hooks on third-row seatbacks, third-row retractable sunshades, driver-seat memory, heated front seats, leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel. Optional on this trim is the Premium Audio Group that adds a 13-speaker Alpine sound system, a third-row USB port, an 8.4-in touchscreen and a power passenger seat.

The Touring L Plus ($41,240) adds the Premium Audio Group, upgraded Uconnect 4 with navigation, upgraded 17-in wheels, Super Console with illuminated cup holders, trip computer with 7-in cluster display, an 8-way power passenger seat, heated second-row seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard on this trim, but optional on the Touring and Limited trims is the Uconnect Theater package, adding two 10-in seatback touchscreens, Blu-Ray player, HDMI and USB video inputs, wireless headphones, a household-style outlet and wireless smartphone charging.

Besides UConnect Theater, the Limited ($46,190 gas; $47,340 hybrid) adds to the Touring L Plus 18-in alloy wheels, hands-free sliding doors and rear lift gate, bi-HID headlamps, LED fog lamps, LED daytime running lights, integrated turn signals in the outboard mirrors, 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 and a fixed glass panel over the third row. Eight-passenger seating is a Limited-only option, as is the Red S Appearance package with red nappa leather seating, light gray stitching/piping and all the features in the Advanced Safety Tec Group like surround-view camera, automatic highbeams, Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist and Lane Departure Warning Plus.

There are several noteworthy packages available on all but the L and LX. The Advanced SafetyTec Group adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic braking, lane-keeping assist, front parking sensors, an automatic parking system, automatic wipers and automatic highbeams. Optional across all grades is the S Appearance Package with an abundance of gloss black trim, including black 18-in wheels. The Trailer-tow group includes a hitch and upgraded radiator and alternator.

A 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is optional on the Touring L Plus and Limited.

Safety

Besides the expected stability control and a multitude of airbags, standard equipment includes a backup camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning system and rear parking sensors that can trigger automatic braking. The optional Advanced SafetyTec Group includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. These features are standard on the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna.

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

Behind the Wheel

The Pacifica is much better to drive than previous Chrysler minivans. 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, the Pacifica, frankly, is about what you'd expect from a modern minivan. 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. A slow-to-react 9-speed transmission is the one noteworthy flaw.

Having said that, we would highly recommend trying out the plug-in hybrid model. Besides saving a ton of gas, we've found the added weight from its battery further improves the handling, settles the ride and smooths out acceleration.

It also comes with more comfortable second-row captain's chairs than the Stow 'n Go seats found in most of the regular Pacifica models. Although a distinctive element that provides unmatched versatility for the Pacifica (the seats fold completely into the floor for maximum cargo space versus physically removing them), they're still a bit thinly padded and don't slide as much as those of rivals' vans. Pros and cons, in other words.

Elsewhere in the cabin, the Pacifica is more stylish than other vans, and the increased availability of the UConnect Theater Group for 2019 means you don't have to get a loaded trim level to gain access to popular kid-friendly/appeasing tech goodies.

Road Trip Ready

To truly put the Pacifica to the test, we took a family road trip. Not just any road trip -- a 2,000-mile journey from Northern Wyoming to Atlanta, Georgia. We had two adults, one teen and two school-aged kids (and their stuff) packed into a 2019 Chrysler Pacifica with the S appearance package. Our first concern was space -- would there be enough space for all of our stuff with the third-row seat in use? We know what you're thinking: Couldn't you just use half the third-row seat since you only had three kids? Well, yes… and no. The two school-aged kids are girls within one year of each other in age, and they wanted to take up the whole third row with its cupholders, power seat adjustments and separate USB port. In the end, it didn't matter since there's more than enough space behind the third row and -- thanks to Stow-N-Go -- under the second-row seats. Even on a seven-day trip, we did not need the underfloor storage.

It's fine to make sure the kids are comfortable, but we had adult concerns, too -- mainly road noise. We've never been through this part of the country before and wanted to get off the Interstate for much of the trip. Being in a noisy car will leave the driver and passengers feeling fatigued.

Autotrader executive editor Brian Moody was the driver for much of the trip and said this about the Pacifica highway ride: "As soon as we hit highway 191, I could tell right away just how quiet the Pacifica is. Both the driver, adult passenger and all the kids commented, 'This car is really quiet.' If that's not the perfect road trip ride, I don't know what is."

Something you learn on a long trip like this is how some features are more valuable than you'd first think. For example, many SUV and minivan owners love retractable sunshades on the side windows for one big reason: It keeps the sunlight out of Baby's eyes. But there's another use we discovered. Many kids in the preteen and teenage ranges would rather be on their phone texting or watching YouTube videos rather than watching a movie on the in-car theater system. The Pacifica's in-car Wi-Fi helped here, too. Keeping this in mind, those side sunshades (especially in the third row) helped to lessen the "carsick" feeling that can result from watching a small screen and seeing the outside world whiz by. By blocking the kids' peripheral view, the "I don't feel good" complaints were down to only three times on the whole 7-day trip.

You might also think the on-board vacuum (Limited trim) is just a gimmick designed to sell vans to parents with sloppy kids. Maybe it is. But it only takes one stop in Nashville, Illinois and its limited lunch choices to prove otherwise. After eating a turkey sandwich with an especially flaky crust, our 12-year-old daughter used the vacuum at the next rest stop to clean up her own seating area. What a great kid. But what a cool feature, too.

At the end of our trip, we covered more than 2,000 miles, drove through eight states, stayed in five hotels, ate 15 burritos collectively (if you're ever in Lincoln, Nebraska, check out Tico's -- amazing Mexican food) and cruised to an overall mileage of 28.5 mpg.

If you take frequent road trips, the Pacifica executes them brilliantly. It's the ultimate utility vehicle, it looks good, it's comfortable and it's amazingly competent at soaking up long strands of American blacktop.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda Odyssey -- The Odyssey has its own bag of family-friendly minivan tricks along with an improved interior and technology. It's a bit dull, though, even by minivan standards.

2020 Kia Sedona -- The Sedona, like the Pacifica, helps you forget you're driving a minivan while delivering excellent value for your money and a superior warranty.

2020 Toyota Sienna -- The Sienna has gone a long time without a full redesign and it's starting to show. Still, you get extra-comfy second-row seats, Toyota's superior reliability and the segment's sharpest driving experience in its SE trim level.

2020 Chrysler Voyager -- If you like Pacifica but find the price a bit steep, just walk a few feet across the showroom to the Voyager. Virtually, it's a Pacifica but with fewer standard features, not as many option choices and a lower price tag.

Autotrader's Advice

The Touring Plus trim level is the one to get now that the UConnect Theater package and Advanced Safety Group are available (and strongly recommended). Everything else on upper trims is just frivolities you probably won't miss. We would, however, consider the plug-in hybrid. It may be more expensive, but it's ultimately the better van and, crucially, it's eligible for a federal tax credit. Find a Chrysler Pacifica for sale

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica Review - Autotrader
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