Minivans — you either love ’em or you hate ’em. We know Doug recently came away amazed at the minivan value proposition after checking out the quirks and features of the latest Honda Odyssey Elite. He even enjoyed the incredibly quirky 15-year-old Toyota Previa. So when I was given the chance to check out a new Chrysler Pacifica, I said, "Sure, why not?" I mean, even Mr. Brandt has minivan fever! I have been pretty anti-minivan here on Oversteer — even going so far as to ponder why a 3-row pickup truck doesn’t exist! You all told me I needed to suck it up and just buy a minivan. At the time, I would have told you you were crazy. But after spending a week in a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Hybrid, I went from utter confusion to completely changing my mind. I’m fully converted now. There’s no SUV on the market for under $50,000 that could deliver what this van has. None!
If you make it to the point where you’re actually shopping for a new minivan, you only have a handful of options for the 2018 model year. For the most part, the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona and Chrysler Pacifica are the only "new" minivans on the market. I put "new" in parentheses because Dodge will still sell you a new Grand Caravan that looks like the old Grand Caravan.
I was in Detroit at the 2016 North American International Auto Show when the Chrysler Pacifica was unveiled, and at the time I was admittedly unimpressed. While it had a nice overall shape and seemed to be well-equipped, it was still, well, a minivan.
That "just a minivan" sentiment lasted about 30 seconds after my recent loaner Pacifica Limited Hybrid was delivered. As Doug pointed out with the Honda review, automakers seem petrified to offer consumers a minivan that costs more than fifty grand. Their paranoia is our gain, and as you saw in the video, this Chrysler is absolutely loaded.
A base "L"-model Pacifica will run you around $27,000, and there are nine total models in the Chrysler minivan lineup. The baller Limited Hybrid model I tested starts at $44,995 and includes a 3.6-liter V6 plug-in "eHybrid" engine with a 33-mile all-electric range, 84 mpge and an impressive 32 mpg from the gas engine alone. Oh, and it’s got three rows of Nappa leather and a ridiculous amount of other stuff. How much stuff comes with this $48,580 sticker price? I don’t even know where to start. Instead, it may be easier to highlight what a comparable SUV would cost at this level.
Let’s start within FCA for a one-to-one comparison. A Dodge Durango Citadel Anodized Platinum — which seems to be the most luxury-focused 3-row in the Dodge lineup — still needs the optional Technology Group (which includes safety equipment like adaptive cruise control, brake assist, blind spot monitoring and forward-collision warning) and the Premium Entertainment Group (which gets you a Beats audio system and Blu-ray/DVD) to get close to the Pacifica’s spec, and it will run you just over $51,000.
Solid, but the Pacifica has all of that, plus even more safety equipment — like a 360-degree camera, plus parallel and perpendicular park assist. Oh, and it has a cool 20-speaker Harman Kardon system to let your kids really rock out. Plus the cargo space isn’t in the same league; the Pacifica has over 32 cu ft., compared to just 17 in the Dodge.
Let’s ramp it up but keep things domestic — enter the GMC Yukon. In order to find something that comes close to matching the Pacfica’s specs, you need to at least ante up to the midlevel SLT model for $58,495 — and even then it’s going to come up short next to the minivan. Amazingly, even the top-of-the-line $67,495 Denali model still doesn’t quite measure up! Sure, it’s "cooler" by many (some … most?) people’s standards, but it’s also way less economical — and it still has less safety equipment, fewer speakers, no standard entertainment system and no cool 360-degree camera, which is nice when trying to park such a big truck. But hey, you can probably tow more.
What about the Germans, perhaps a Mercedes-Benz GLS 450? It’s not hard to match the Pacifica’s specs, at least in packages and options. But it’ll cost you, and not just by sacrificing cargo space. No, it’ll cost you $3,830 (on top of the GLS’s substantial starting price) to tick the box for just the Premium package and get blind spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay, lane-keeping assist, etc. That doesn’t include ventilated seats, tri-zone climate control, rear-seat entertainment or a similar Harman Kardon audio system. Grand total for the GLS 450 with options comparable to the Pacifica Limited Hybrid is around $87,215.
What about the Japanese luxury SUVs? Well, a 2018 Acura MDX Hybrid with the Technology package is $52,100 — but, for some reason, you can’t add the $2000 Entertainment package if you go with the Hybrid. Plus the third row is tiny in the MDX. I could go on and on and on, but I have a 1,000-word limit. There are plenty of other 3-row SUV makers out there — BMW, Volvo, Audi, Lexus, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Infiniti, just to name a few. But none sell anything with near as much content for the money than this darn minivan.
Well, except for other minivans.