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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Review

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica has to be smarter and work harder, because it’s tough being a minivan in an SUV world. The right kind of family transportation requires a particular set of skills that goes way beyond what the typical SUV/crossover offers. There has to be easy access to more than five seats, the ability to move seating and luggage around the cabin, and ideally some scope for carrying large objects like bunk beds or chests of drawers. This is where a minivan excels.

Among the features contributing to the Pacifica’s standout status is its standard Stow ’n Go seats in the second and third rows. Folding right into the floor, the result is a flat cargo area large enough to accommodate a sheet of plywood 48.8 inches wide between the wheel wells. When the seats are in place, there are in-floor storage bins beneath them. 

Beyond the clever seating, the Pacifica is loaded with family-friendly features and useful gadgets. There’s a plug-in hybrid version (without the Stow ’n Go seats) that’s more fuel-efficient. Or families living in places where rough weather is expected can choose an all-wheel-drive model.

We always recommend cross-shopping, but the Pacifica hits a few spots that nothing else really can.

What’s New for 2021?

The previously optional advanced safety features (such as forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control) are now standard. Styling tweaks at both ends have resulted in an overall smoother look, plus LED exterior lighting for the whole range. A FamCam interior monitor becomes available in the top three trims. The Pacifica is the first Chrysler vehicle to get the new, updated infotainment system, Uconnect 5. It brings a 10.1-inch touchscreen as standard but a 12.3-inch screen is available. There’s also Amazon Alexa compatibility, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM 360L, navigation by TomTom, and the option of USB-C ports. The 2021 Pacifica range is also topped by a new Pinnacle trim level. See the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Classy cabin design
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Exclusive plug-in hybrid version
  • Family-friendly technology and convenience features
  • Versatile Stow ’n Go seats

What We Don’t

  • Stow ’n Go seats less comfortable than regular seats
  • Difficult-to-read gauges
  • Some clunky transmission tendencies

How Much?

$35,000 to $56,500 est. (plus destination fee)

Fuel Economy

The regular Pacifica is propelled by a 3.6-liter V6 developing 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic transmission sends drive either to the front wheels or all four.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined (front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive TBA). An automatic stop/start system helps save a little gasoline while idling.

When properly equipped, a gasoline-powered 2021 Pacifica can tow 3,600 pounds.

The Pacifica Hybrid uses a variation of this V6 paired with two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack that can be replenished by plugging into an outside electricity source. Total system output is 260 hp. It can travel 32 miles on battery power alone, then achieves 30 mpg as a regular hybrid once that all-electric range is depleted.

Standard Features & Options

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica comes in Touring, Touring L, Limited and Pinnacle trim levels.

In its basic form, the standard seating layout is for seven occupants, with the option of a 3-place bench for the second row, pushing the posterior count to eight.

The other option for the regular Pacifica is a pair of captain’s chairs in the second row (without the Stow ’n Go fold-flat action, naturally); the hybrid version has these as standard.

All pricing includes a $1,495 (TBC) destination charge.

Touring (est. $35,000, plus destination charge) comes with power-sliding side doors, powered liftgate, LED exterior lighting, automatic high beams, folding/heated side mirrors, 17-in alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, 3-zone automatic climate control, self-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry w/remote start, second-row sunshades, cloth upholstery, Stow ’n Go seating, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 10.1-in infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, voice recognition, 6-speaker audio system, satellite radio capability, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility, USB port, eight air bags, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, and rear parking sensors with braking.

Touring Hybrid (est. $40,000) has those second-row captain’s chairs, plus a digital instrument cluster and acoustic glass for the front row.

Touring L (est. $40,000 regular; $45,000 hybrid) adds the Stow ’n Place roof rack, grocery bag hooks on third-row seatbacks, third-row retractable sunshades, driver’s-seat memory settings, heated front seats, perforated leather upholstery and a heated/leather-wrapped steering wheel. 

Limited (est. $45,000 regular; $50,000 hybrid) adds 18-in alloy wheels, hands-free sliding doors and lift gate operation, self-dimming driver’s-side mirror, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated second-row seats, power-folding third row, integrated vacuum cleaner, navigation, 13-speaker Alpine audio system upgrade, and a panoramic sunroof with a fixed glass panel over the third row.

Pinnacle (est. $50,000 regular; $55,000 hybrid) is a 7-seater only, with captain’s chairs in the second row, 20-in alloy wheels, Harman Kardon audio system upgrade (optional in Limited trim), and the Uconnect Theater package that brings two 10-in seatback touchscreens, Blu-Ray player, HDMI and USB video inputs, wireless headphones, third-row USB charge port, 115-volt outlet, and the FamCam interior monitor. This package is optional in the Touring (minus the FamCam), Touring L and Limited trims.

Another equipment bundle that’s standard in the Pinnacle and optional in the Touring L and Limited models is the Safety Sphere Group that includes a self-parking feature for parallel and perpendicular spaces, front parking sensors and a 360-degree camera system.

An S Appearance Package is available with the first three trims, adding an abundance of black items, including 18-in alloy wheels. A  Red S Appearance package with red Nappa leather upholstery applies solely to the Limited version. The Trailer Tow bundle (not available with hybrid models) includes an upgraded radiator and alternator as well as a Class II 2-inch hitch receiver, 7-pin wiring harness and trailer sway control.

Safety

Besides the mandatory stability control and multiple airbags, standard safety equipment in the 2021 Pacifica includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors with automatic braking, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, plus lane-keeping assistance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Pacifica its maximum 5-star ratings for overall, front and side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named it a Top Safety Pick+ for its performance in various crash protection and prevention tests.

Behind the Wheel

Driving the 2021 Pacifica is a smooth, noticeably quiet and refined experience. It enjoys tidy handling for such a big vehicle, strong power from the V6 engine and a comfortable yet controlled ride that won’t make the passengers sick. Occasional sluggish reactions from the 9-speed transmission are the only flaws worth mentioning.

We highly recommend trying out the plug-in hybrid model. Besides saving fuel, the added weight from its battery further improves the handling, settles the ride and smooths out acceleration.

It also comes with the more comfortable second-row captain’s chairs than the Stow ’n Go seats found in most of the regular Pacifica models. Admittedly a distinctive element providing wonderful versatility for the Pacifica (the seats fold completely into the floor for maximum cargo space, as opposed to physically removing them), they’re still somewhat thinly padded and don’t travel as much on their runners as some rivals.

Elsewhere in the cabin, the Pacifica is stylish. The availability of the rear seat entertainment system from the second-lowest trim up means not being obliged to splash out on a loaded model for the most popular features.

Retractable sunshades on the side windows not only keep the sunlight out of a baby’s eyes. Many preteens and teenagers would rather be on their phones texting or watching YouTube videos rather than watching a movie on the in-car theater system, and these shades will help.

With all the seats in place, luggage area measures 32.3 cubic feet (about twice as much as a midsize sedan’s trunk). With a flat load floor behind the first row, the maximum cargo area is 140.5 cubic feet.

The Pacifica is great at suburban errands and long road trips alike. It might even be called the ultimate utility vehicle.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Honda Odyssey — Has its own bag of family-friendly minivan tricks along with an improved interior and technology. Upgraded inside and out for 2021, with more safety equipment as standard. Also beats the Pacific in terms of resale values.

2021 Kia Sedona — Completely revamped for 2021, yet still competitively priced, well equipped and with a superior warranty.

2021 Toyota Sienna — All-new for 2021 and quite a departure from before. Only available as a hybrid (not plug-in like the Pacifica) and with all-wheel drive as standard.

2021 Chrysler Voyager — If the Pacifica’s price is too steep, wander across the showroom to the less-expensive Voyager. It’s virtually a Pacifica, but with fewer standard features or options.

Used Honda Odyssey — Buying used brings the prospect of getting into a higher trim. And Honda’s reputation for reliability is exemplary. Check out the company’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Questions You May Ask

Can the Chrysler Pacifica come with all-wheel drive?

If we were still in 2019, the answer would have been no. The only all-wheel-drive minivan available then was the Toyota Sienna. The Pacifica started offering that option during the 2020 model year and this 2021 version continues to do so. However, it’s not possible to have all-wheel drive with the plug-in hybrid powertrain.

How long has Chrysler been making the Pacifica?

This current Pacifica minivan was introduced in 2016 as a 2017 model. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it was used previously on a wagon-like vehicle about a decade ago.

Will Chrysler stop making the Pacifica?

Well, we’re looking at a 2021 model here that has received new equipment, so probably not for a while. However, the parent company (FCA) has discontinued the Dodge Grand Caravan.

Autotrader’s Advice

One of the things that really sets the 2021 Pacifica apart from the competition is the plug-in hybrid variant, so it makes sense to put this under serious consideration. The higher pricing is offset by the federal tax credit of $7,500.

Then again, perhaps the deciding factor could be the ability to fold the second and third rows into the floor, which is another Pacifica speciality. Although Touring trim has plenty of standard features, think about Touring L trim because it’s eligible for more options. Find a Chrysler Pacifica for sale

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