Entry Price: $28,595
Price as Tested: $43,765
This week, we’re driving Chrysler’s all-new 2017 Pacifica minivan, although we use the term minivan solely with respect to the class legacy. Pacifica is a modern day family transport utility vehicle and there’s nothing “mini” about it.
Now in its seventh generation, the all-new 2017 Pacifica is a direct descendant of the famous Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth minivans that debuted back in 1984. Chrysler is the originator of the minivan thanks to the brilliance of then Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, who had been planning the minivan for years.
In a quick history lesson, Iacocca’s new minivans debuted in September of 1983 as 1984 models. These unique vehicles were called the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager and they effectively filled the void of consumers who needed station wagon room but didn’t want to buy from the dwindling list of station wagon manufacturers.
These new Chrysler minivans were essentially Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Reliant “K-Cars” on steroids, with K-Car relating to Chrysler’s front drive, small car effort that debuted in 1981. Riding on stretched 112-inch K-Car wheelbase and called the “S Platform,” the new Chrysler minivans offered van like room for up to seven passengers in compact form.
Not surprisingly, Chrysler’s minivans were immediate hits at the showroom, selling some 200,000 units the first 16-months. All Dodge and Plymouth minivans came powered by the same K-Car platform front drive, four-cylinder mechanical formula and offered easy entry-exit while fitting in most home garages thanks to low ground clearance.
These new vehicles launched Chrysler Corporation back into sustained profitability and for nearly a decade while the company enjoyed little or no competition. Through the seven generations, the Dodge and Chrysler minivans grew to wheelbases of over 120-inches while retaining the “minivan” nomenclature based on history more so than actual wheelbase proportions.
Notable is that Chrysler failed to copyright the word “minivan,” and along the way competitors scurried to come up with equals or alternatives, with little success. Only the Volkswagen Vanagon, a successor of the VW Micro Bus and VW Camper vehicles, had any sort of buyer loyalty. So, if you owned a compact minivan and it wasn’t a Dodge, Chrysler or Plymouth, you were in the minority in the 1980s and 1990s.
Later, the competition from Toyota, Honda, GM and Ford not only caught up to Chrysler minivan dominance, several exceeded expectations. It even got to the point where Chrysler minivans played second fiddle for many years as a good minivan, but not great.
Well, that’s all changed as with this new Pacifica, the word “complacent” has been removed from the Chrysler dictionary. Today’s new 2017 Pacifica is Chrysler’s best effort to date and proves it has not lost its way in minivan design.
So how good is the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica?
Well, how about winning the “North American Utility Vehicle of the Year” at the recently held world famous Detroit Auto Show. The new architecture features a completely revamped exterior and a new interior with lots of storage and cargo possibilities. A class first nine-speed automatic transmission couples with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This power combo delivers impressive 28-highway and 18-city EPA fuel mileage numbers, both very good for a two ton vehicle.
Chrysler Pacifica also becomes the first ever minivan to offer a hybrid, which will debut later this year and deliver EPA numbers of up to 84-mpg on full charge and a driving range of 566 miles total and 33 miles on total electric (starting at $44,995).
Notable on the new Pacifica are numerous luxury and safety features, literally too many to list as standard and optional safety items alone number over 120. Our upper-class Pacifica Touring L-Plus tester ($37,895 entry) features a no extra cost Blu-Ray DVD movie system with seatback screens for second and third row passengers, 506-watt Alpine stereo surround 13-speaker stereo, all the powers (steering, windows, brakes, mirrors), window shades, heated seats and steering wheel, interior noise control and many more standard features. Your Chrysler dealer will gladly explain all models.
Options include a recommended advanced safety group ($1,995), 18-inch tire and wheel group ($895) and foot activated power sliding side doors and rear liftgate ($795). Eight-passenger seating costs an additional $495 and a UConnect Nav/SiriusXM with HD radio is $695 more.
All Pacifica models, including the entry LS at $28,595 to the top line Limited at $42,495, feature the best of safety features like Parkview backup camera, all airbags, blind spot and cross path detection, remote start, electronic stability and traction control, four wheels ABS discs and more.
Pacifica is sure to be a big hit at the showrooms and could also receive many more awards as the year progresses. Expect comfortable rides and sure footed handling, especially for a bigger vehicle.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 121.6 inches, 4,330 lb. curb weight, 19-gallon fuel tank, 39.7 ft. turn circle, 3,600 lb. tow capacity, and 5.1 inch ground clearance, and cargo capacity that grows from 32.3 cu. ft. with seats up to a massive 141 cu. ft. with seats down.
Chrysler Pacifica is a sure bet if you’re looking for a modern day minivan. It is clearly an award winning design, which is what we expect from the originator of the vehicle.
Likes: New exterior and interior, hybrid option, fuel mileage, legacy.
Dislikes: Some extra cost safety features should be standard, not much else.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at email@example.com.
Test Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Entry Price: $28,595