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2018 Chrysler Pacifica Overview
Chrysler was arguably the originator of the minivan as we know it, defining the segment. The first couple of Chrysler minivans---and their badge-engineered brethren---were groundbreaking and class-leading, but as the minivan gave way to more-fashionable crossovers and SUVs, Chrysler’s minivans lost their competitive edge; they sold more on transaction price and storage space than content or quality, and buyers looking for a premium experience fled to the open arms of Honda and Toyota. But Chrysler wasn’t ready to give up the fight just yet. For model-year 2017, the automaker released an all-new minivan that regarded comfort, technology and especially style as paramount. For this, Chrysler resurrected the Pacifica nameplate (which had previously been used on a three-row crossover). The utilitarian, anodyne shape of the now-defunct Town & Country has given way to flowing lines, sharp character creases, and a simulated wrap-around rear windscreen. Inside, panel gaps and materials choices easily meet or exceed competing vehicles, and the technology stack is formidable. Fresh off the heels of this total makeover, the 2018 Pacifica juggles around options and colors, but is mostly unchanged.
The sole motivation for the Pacifica is a 3.6-liter V6 engine making 287 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. This is good for 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, which more or less matches its competitors, and all Pacificas include a generous 532 miles of maximum range between fill-ups of the 19-gallon fuel tank. A separate Pacifica Hybrid model with considerably-improved fuel economy is also available. The Pacifica comes only in front-wheel-drive configuration, as do all of its rivals apart from the Toyota Sienna. Critics are fond of the Pacifica’s driving dynamics, praising its steering, low center-of-gravity and composure around tight curves, and declaring it class-leading in the performance department. The V6 is responsive and the 9-speed keeps it within its power band, although at the consequence of numerous detectable gear changes while driving.
The Pacifica comes in six trims for 2018, L, LX, Touring Plus, Touring L, Touring L Plus and Limited. Overall, the model gives off the impression that it was designed first and foremost as a luxury vehicle, and then certain features were gradually removed across the trims to make the price more accessible. To that effect, even the base $26,995 L trim includes soft-touch interior panels, a smart key, a reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone manual front climate controls, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an electronic parking brake, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection and Chrysler’s sleek dial gear selector. An Electronic Vehicle Tracking System can be added a la carte to all trims for $495, building in advanced telematics, like the ability to track the vehicle at any time, receive alerts if it leaves a specified area, arrival and departure notifications, automatic emergency dispatch in a collision.
Next is LX, at $29,795, which adds 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, body-colored door handles, tri-zone manual climate control, an auxiliary battery, second-row captains chairs, an uprated suspension, auto start-stop engine functionality, a theft-deterrent system, Stow ‘n Go seats in the second and third rows, projector-beam headlamps and front and rear LED lighting accents. An optional Tire and Wheel Package ($795) which swaps the standard alloys for premium 17-inch 10-spoke units as well as premium Kumho tires. LX and all subsequent trims can be equipped with 8-passenger seating for $495, which is essentially a removable seat in the second row between the captains chairs. Wireless phone charging for these trims is available at $350, as well an overhead DVD system at $995 and a system called KeySense, which can allow the vehicle owner to place limits on speed and audio volume as well as preventing the safety features from being turned off; this feature is aimed at parents with young drivers. Light-colored leatherette seats are available at no additional cost for LX and above trims.
Touring Plus stickers at $32,595 and adds 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, automatic climate controls for all three zones, heated and powered front seats, a sliding door alert function, fog lamps, rear reading courtesy lamps, ambient surround lighting within the cabin, automatic headlamps, an interior observation mirror and a garage door opener The Tire and Wheel Group costs $895 for 18-inch satin silver wheels and premium Nexen tires. Also included is a $295 security group, which adds remote start and a security system.
The Touring L trim offers Stow 'n Place a roof rack with bright side rails, grocery bag hooks on third-row seatbacks, and three-zone automatic climate control. Shoppers can also opt for the Advanced SafetyTec Group, which features adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go. The Premium Audio Group package, with a 506-watt amplifier, the uprated 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, active noise cancellation, HD radio and third-row USB charging, increases the price by $895.
Ringing in at $38,695 is Touring L Plus, which includes perforated leather bucket seats, memory settings for the front seats, heated front and second-row seats, an upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, remote start and a security system. The same Tire and Wheel Group package available in Touring Plus is available here, and an optional hands-free sliding doors and a hands-free lift gate combination costs an another $795. The Advanced SafetyTec Group package brings a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, and automatic high beams, for $995. Buyers can add a tri-pane panoramic sunroof for $1,595, or a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a 760-watt amplifier for all of $695.
Lastly is the range-topping Limited trim with a rather steep jump to $43,695, but for this, buyers are treated to the 18-inch alloy wheels and Nexen tires, a powered on-board vacuum cleaner, the tri-pane panoramic sunroof, premium Nappa-trimmed leather seating, hands-free sliding doors and lift gate, an acoustic windshield and a power-folding third-row that can also automatically lower the headrests. Like the Touring L Plus, the Advanced SafetyTec Group rings in at $995. A UConnect Theater with Wireless Streaming package includes a foldable 10.1-inch touchscreen media interface in each front seatback, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, an uprated 220-amp alternator, a Blu-ray / DVD player, dual HDMI ports, a 30 channel video remote control, a set of tri-channel wireless headphones and a USB video port, all for $1,995. Alternatively, buyers can opt for the UConnect Theater with Streaming and Sound package, which enhances the above UConnect Theater package with a 76-watt amplifier and a 20-speaker Harman Kardon system.
Despite its art-on-wheels shape, the Pacifica’s space utilization is highly competitive. At 32.3 cubic feet, or 140.5 cubic feet with the front and rear seats folded, it is within inches of all of its rivals, and that’s disregarding the under-cabin storage systems. Critics had fond things to say about its ride comfort and occupant space, though the fashionably-thin second row seats aren’t quite as accommodating as the thicker thrones in rival minivans. Highest praise went to the third row for its ability to match the second row in practicality and roominess.
Minivan buyers look for vehicles with exceptional attention toward safety, and here the Pacifica delivers, not only because of the generous safety tech suite that comes standard, but because of the baked-in equipment. There are driver and passenger airbags, side curtain airbags in all rows, front-seat side airbags and front-seat knee airbags, so occupants should be well-cushioned in the event of a crash. The Pacifica earns top ratings of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in all crash categories, and even earns a superior rating for front crash avoidance with the Advanced SafetyTec Group. However, the projector-beam headlamps standard on the LX trim and up are rated merely as Acceptable, and the Pacifica scores a Marginal rating for the ease-of-use of its child seat anchors.
The Pacifica is a commendable effort from the folks at Chrysler. All of the thoughtful touches that graced the automaker’s previous minivans are here, but executed with more class and better materials. The styling, daring yet handsome and inoffensive, brings the concept of a fashionable minivan to a whole new level, and besting similar efforts from Honda and Kia, in particular. The Pacifica is as up-to-date as it is possible for its segment on the engineering and technology fronts, with no major detriments, but plenty of positive attributes. Several critics have said they thoroughly enjoy driving it, which is high praise for a minivan of any variety. And even though this people-carrier is competitive enough to end the trend of Chrysler having to provide massive discounts on its minivans in order to move them, the value proposition is still there. The lower two trims, L and LX, undercut rivals considerably, but the best value is probably in one of the mid-grade trims, Touring Plus or Touring L, with a few options packages like the leatherette and the upgraded sound system. With that in mind, and well under $40,000 in today’s money, a buyer can find in the Pacifica a youthful, athletic mode of transportation that seats up to eight people in absolute comfort.
When it comes to cars, Matt's curiosity extends well beyond the powertrain. From Ford to Porsche, he's as interested in the history behind the machine as he is the view behind the wheel. Matt creates written and video content exclusively for CarGurus.
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