And it didn’t suck the soul out of my life.
Full Disclosure: Chrysler wanted me to drive one of their Pacificas so badly that they sent me an email that contained the words “Please test drive the Pacifica and we will give you money.” Needing no more convincing and some new pants, I made my way down to the local Chrysler dealer to see if the Pacifica will make minivans great again.
I do enjoy these monetary fueled test drive offers. It gives me a reason to go outside other than Pokemon GO. I also get to try the newest cars and write reviews on Oppositelock while getting ‘paid’ and not wearing pants. It is essentially the Doug DeMuro experience.
A new design and a new name. With the reputation of the old Pacifica, it baffled me that Chrysler would bring back the name. More so that they would put it on the minivan that replaces the now unceremoniously slain Town and Country.
This review will follow the same score system used for my Fiesta ST review. It will feature a simplistic subjective scale that is as follows:
0 - It’s complete and total rubbish and I hate it
1 - I don’t like it
2 - It’s ok (Neutral)
3 - I like it.
4 - Superb
There are 13 subject areas so this review will be out of 52 points.
Before I go into the review, I must make you aware that I am not a professional auto reviewer or journalist (unless Jalopnik wants a new one). I only tweet ideas for new Top Gear US episodes which are then used right before the show gets canned. Some say that I am just a
strange normal poor person that enjoys crap excellent cars. This review is subjective and your feelings may be different.
The Chrysler Pacifica. Chrysler’s answer to the question. Is the Town and Country outdated and only loved by old people? Reinventing the Town and Country into a hip new minivan that will make minivans great again, the Chrysler Pacifica shoots for all potential buyers with many trim levels it also features many do dads and thingys that people will find neat and clever.
The Chrysler Pacifica I drove was the Touring L Plus. This is the 2nd from the top of the line trim. Some of the features brought up in this review may not apply to your selected model.
Here are some basic facts about the Pacifica
Engine: 3.6L Naturally Aspirated, V6
Transmission: 9-speed Automatic Transmission, Rotary Selector
Setting: Low Density Urban Area/Industrial Park
Confusion of Dealer for a Young Person Requesting to Drive Minivan: Much
Overall Test Drive Experience:
The Chrysler dealer I visited was quite accommodating. The staff was quick and didn’t bat an eye at a young man wearing torn pants asking to test drive a minivan. The sales person was a little bewildered as to why I wanted to drive a new minivan, but once I explained that Chrysler insisted to give me money he
promptly threw me out of the dealership asked if I seriously wanted to drive a minivan. Upon explaining that I want to actually earn my $50 instead of it just being handed to me (as long as it involved driving a new expensive car worth many multiples more than $50), he grabbed the keys and we began our drive.
Unlike the Fiesta ST trip, this one was much less exciting. I didn’t have a manual transmission to screw up this time.
Exterior - 4
I really like the look of the exterior. Sure it takes much of it’s design inspiration from the 200 and 300, but it still looks very tasteful and refined. The lines are nice, there are not too many ridiculous flared things. Everything is rounded and seems to fit together. It doesn’t look bulbous.
Sure the wheels were a bit ugly, but the overall exterior design is a great improvement over the old Town and Country.
Interior - 4
I really like the interior of the Pacifica. The leather seats were very comfortable. The interior was spacious, and I was able to comfortably fit in the rear captains chair with the driver’s seat all the way back (I am a bit tall). The space inside the van is utilized to its fullest potential. Everywhere you look you find new things that make travel, storage, and utility much easier. One thing that I particularly like is the size of the windows. They were quite large. I like to be able to see the world around me as I drive or ride.
The only real complaints I have about the interior is the two tone steering wheel that is available. It is atrocious. It looks like a penguin was skinned and applied to the wheel. Thankfully the model I drove didn’t have it. The button for the climate controls were also a little awkward to access from the drivers seat mostly because you have to reach around the transmission knob. However, this does make those buttons easier for the passengers to reach. It is something that is not a deal breaker, but definitely will take some getting used to.
Acceleration - 2
It’s a minivan, what do you expect.
The acceleration is adequate. It didn’t feel like it was struggling nor did it throw me back in my seat. The 9-speed transmission easily finds the optimum gear to get as much torque as it can find. You won’t be blowing the doors off anyone, but you will be able to get on the interstate.
Braking - 2
It has brakes, the brakes stop the van. The brakes did not feel super sensitive like some cars, but they are not mushy like I have experienced in other larger crossovers. I don’t feel that I need a mile to stop.
Ride - 4
The Pacifica I drove did not have the optional touring suspension. I would have really liked to experienced the upgraded suspension. However, the base suspension is really nice. It is definitely suitable for driving long distance or down pot hole filled roads (like those in Michigan for instance).
Handling - 3
I was quite surprised at the handling. I had driven a new 2016 Dodge Charger 2 months ago and the Pacifica handles fairly similar. Now the Pacifica is a bit sluggish and bulky in comparison to the Charger simply because of its size and weight, but I didn’t feel like I was driving a boat either. It had a very large sedan-like feeling. The steering was very easy and felt connected with just enough slack to make it comfortable.
Gearbox - 3
The Pacifica has a very strange rotary shifter. I have used it before in the Ram models. I did kind of feel like I was setting an old microwave though. This one is a bit easier to adjust to mainly because there is little to no center console that tricks you into thinking the shifter is there. You may accidentally turn on the windshield wipers if you are used to a column. The Pacifica has no manual shift (because it is a minivan); therefore, I couldn’t really play with each individual gear of the 9-speeds. All I can say is that the transmission performed very well in the average city traffic I experienced. Shifts were smooth and the van never struggled to find a gear. I like the fact that there are many gears available to allow for near 30MPG highway mileage.
Audio/Toys - 4
The Touring L Plus Pacifica came with many things. Everywhere you look there are things. USB ports hidden throughout the front console. 2 DVD screens with many different ports and plugs available for phones and games. The van came with heated front and rear seats which helps calm the usually contested winter games of ‘shotgun.’ It also comes with a heated steering wheel, which is great because up until that was invented I just set my steering wheel on fire when I started the car on a cold winter’s morning.
The audio system was very nice. The Touring L Plus has the premium 13 speaker audio system which sounded lovely. Perfectly appropriate for massive jams with your friends.
Sound (Engine Noise) - 3
Again, it is a minivan. You are not going to be tearing down the streets waking up the neighbors (unless you are racing home because your kid is about to poo themselves, and that’s because of you screaming, not the engine). That being said, I like how quite it is. It is not silent, but it is quiet enough to let you converse with others in the car. It does raise its voice when you slam the throttle, but nothing more than what you would experience with any other normal crossovers.
Dash/Gauges/Infotainment - 4
The gauges in the Pacifica are set up just like they are in the Charger/200/300. They are very easy to read and the digital display between the analog gauges is a great size. The middle screen gives you many details that you may or may not care about, and the navigation of that menu through the steering wheel is very easy and intuitive.
The infotainment system is very easy to use and a nice size. It is not too small, but not too big where it becomes gaudy. Touchscreen controls are easy to use and they have additional analog controls for people that like buttons (like me).
Visibility - 3
Visibility wasn’t really an issue. I felt that I could see out of the Pacifica just like I could any van. Of course, the premium model I drove came with blind spot monitoring and standard backup camera, which on a vehicle this
large bulky (it really isn’t that “big”) is very useful.
Utility Value - 4
If you are looking for a family hauler, you definitely should consider the Pacifica. If you are looking for a vehicle to travel many miles and hours in with you friends, the Pacifica may be the best choice. Stow and Go seating is excellent and creates a flat cargo floor that will allow you to haul just as much stuff as a pickup truck (size wise, not necessarily weight), and its modular configuration enables you to set up the interior to suit your situation’s needs. The superb utilization of space and the many interior storage options available make this one of the most practical vehicles I have seen. Most impressive was the amount of space available for the front seat occupants. If you were to go to the store and get a couple bags, you could just slide them in front of the center console and not have to worry about throwing them in the back.
Unfortunately, I did forget about the most important feature. I forgot to ask about the vacuum. Although I heard it sucks.
Value - 3
The vehicle I drove was priced at $39,585 before rebates and incentives. For the appointments and options that were equipped, it felt like a fair starting price. The interior materials felt very nice, not exotic luxury, but not tacky plastic either. Styling was refined and tasteful. It did feel like a vehicle that was higher than standard. Was the price a follow me home immediately price - no. I would expect competitor vans to be in a similar price bracket, but most likely higher (~low 40s). If you are looking for a well appointed car to transport your 2.5 children and currently have a search history full of Suburbans, you may want to take a look at this.
Total - 43/52 - 82%
Oh jeez, I just ranked the Pacifica higher than a Fiesta ST. Welp, looks like I am getting banned. However, why do we like Fiesta ST? It is a unhinged golf cart we can fling around roundabouts. It is viewed in the same class a budget performance/sports cars like the GTI or Abarth. A person wanting a Fiesta ST would not have a Pacifica on their radar (unless they were married). Pacificas are wanted for their practical value. They are not meant to go fast (Mr. Gilles, please make one that goes fast...), they are meant to be really useful. In my short time with the Pacifica, I saw its purpose: A utilitarian family bus meant to shuttle everyone to where they need to go in pretty decent comfort. Or, a good long trip hauler allowing the occupants to spend many hours inside with several amenities to help pass the time. I would gladly drive it on my routine trips crossing 1/3 of the country.
The Pacifica is a very well designed automobile that makes very efficient use of the vehicle’s space. The Stow and Go seating makes this van just as practical as the ever popular family truckster, Suburban (sans towing).
Chrysler is really trying to make the minivan great again, and the Pacifica is a great candidate. It’s worth noting that the Pacifica has only been out for about 4 months, I do not know how reliable the mechanicals are or how it will depreciate over time, but we will find out as used ones trickle in.
The Pacifica Hybrid is the game changer. If the results back up the press hype, Chrysler could have impacted the minivan market almost as much as they did in 1984. I look forward to seeing it in October.
Until then, I need to go buy pants.