Test Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

2017 Chrysler Pacifica LimitedCan a minivan also be a luxury vehicle? That’s the question Chrysler wants to answer in the affirmative with the brand-new Pacifica. Let’s face it, minivans are not aspirational vehicles in the sense that few people think, as they’re toiling their way through school or climbing the corporate ladder, “Someday, I will be successful enough to at last own a minivan.”

Alas, life happens, and when you get to that stage when a minivan is in large part necessity and small part actual desire, you want the best — the minivan that will be the envy of the school drop-off lane and the soccer field. And although they’re (thankfully an thoughtfully) retiring the Town & Country moniker, Chrysler is all-in when it comes to the minivan market, betting that the Pacifica will be the coolest ride in the carpool.

So, to test out the hip factor, I loaded two 11 year olds and two 14 year olds into the Pacifica and headed to Anaheim for a trip to VidCon. Kids, even teens and tweens, love minivans. They couldn’t have been more psyched if any other car had arrived in the driveway on the day we were scheduled to leave. They gleefully tossed their ample luggage into the back, chose their seats for the journey (the girls in the third-row bench and the boys the second-row bucket seats), and plugged in their earbuds, leaving me free to focus the audio system to the front, and choose my stations on the Sirius radio, piped through the cabin via a standard six-speaker system with Active Noise Cancellation. A 13-speaker Alpine or 20-speaker Harman Kardon surround-system are also available.

ch017_050pf5jsit3evek9sslhahntudp4vskOn this trip, the kids provided their own tech, but the top-level Pacifica is the most technologically equipped vehicle of its kind. The new Uconnect Theater entertainment system features two 10-inch touchscreen displays in the second row, where passengers can watch movies, play built-in games, connect personal devices to browse the internet or stream content. It even has six USB ports.

The onboard tech is just part of the Pacifica’s appeal to modern families. Chrysler’s famous Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system gives Pacifica versatile and cavernous storage capability; hands free sliding doors open with the kick of a foot; and an integrated vacuum keeps crumbs and dirt at bay. The Pacifica will park itself, both parallel and perpendicular, and a Surround View camera provides 360-views of your surroundings, should you choose to park yourself.

The drive to California was smooth, and quiet (no “Are we there yets” from the tech-connected kids). The standard 287-horsepower V-6 engine was more than adequate for highway driving, and the drive is downright civilized. And it looks good, eschewing the typical box-on-wheels design favored by most minivans. Chrysler describes the Pacifica’s look as a “brush-stroke” design, with flowing lines rather than sharp edges. The interior is upscale all the way, with well-executed design and high-quality materials.

2017 Chrylser Pacifica storage2017 Chrysler PacificaPacifica’s drive and look are more SUV than van. Tossing the Town & Country name aside signals a departure from the staid and boring to the modern and upscale for the minivan segment. Pacifica is great for moving people and gear, in most any configuration, and will make road trips fun again for everyone. It may even make you aspire to drive a minivan.

The Pacifica Touring model tested here priced at$31,985. Pricing starts at $28,595 for the base model, and $46,480 for the highest Limited trim. With all the boxes checked, $50,000 is not an unreasonable expectation.

 

 

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