The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is an all-new front-wheel-drive minivan offering standard seating for seven or available room for eight. This model takes over where the previous Chrysler Town & Country minivan left off and is not related to an earlier utility vehicle with the same name.
More than three decades after Chrysler helped launch the modern minivan revolution, an all-new minivan has arrived. Known as the Pacifica, this model represents a clean-sheet redesign of the Town & Country, effectively allowing Chrysler to reboot what had once been a trendsetting model.
Shoppers perusing the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica will find five trim levels for their consideration. The base LX edition is joined by Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and Limited trims.
There’s something entirely familiar in the 2017 Pacifica, and that would be this model’s front fascia. It shares its face with the midsize Chrysler 200 sedan, and this is especially apparent in its narrow upper grille and seamlessly connected headlamp assemblies with LED lighting accents. The lower grille opening is larger and is offset by a pair of pockets housing the available fog lamps.
The Pacifica bears a familiar minivan layout, but Chrysler has included a few variations on that expression via a rising beltline, distinct character lines, body sculpting and lower panel trim.
Chrysler dresses the Pacifica in an assortment of 17-, 18-, and 20-inch aluminum wheels with various designs available. Head to the rear and you’ll find a liftgate spoiler, smoked-out rear pillars that serve to give the back window a wraparound look, large wraparound combination lamps and reflectors embedded in the rear bumper. Available features include a three-pane panoramic sunroof.
The Pacifica offers seating for seven with a pair of captain’s chairs in the middle and a split-folding bench seat in the third row.
For no extra charge, Chrysler allows buyers to swap out the middle seats for a bench seat to facilitate an eighth seating position. Be careful here: The captain’s chairs are every bit as comfortable as the front seats, so if you don’t need the eighth position, don’t opt for the change. Still, the second-row bench increases the number of LATCH connectors to five. LATCH represents lower anchors and tethers for children, an industry-adopted system making it easy to install child seats in vehicles.
The Pacifica offers unique storage capabilities in its second and third rows. Both rows fold flat into the floor. This feature is known as “Stow ‘n Go,” and it’s something the competition doesn’t match. When both rows are folded flat, it transforms the already decent standard storage room behind the third row into truck-bed-like interior space behind the first row. In effect, the Pacifica combines a large SUV’s passenger space and marries that to truck-like utility.
Up front, Chrysler presents an orderly and uncluttered dashboard with an instrument panel marked by a pair of colorful analog displays on either side of a driver’s information center. The center console is dominated by a color display flanked by oversized vents. Beneath that are the transmission shift knob, an electronic emergency brake, audio and climate control knobs and switches and a DVD player. An enclosed storage compartment is at the base of that stack, and it’s large enough to hold a small purse or a tablet.
Dividing the front seats on the floor is an open tray where manufacturers typically continue the console. This layout gives a more spacious feel up front for both occupants. A pair of cup holders is located between the two seats, in front of another storage compartment with a roll-top design.
Additional storage can be had behind the third-row seat when that seat is utilized. This deep storage area can hold your groceries or your luggage.
With soft-touch materials, available leather touches and brightwork trim, the 2017 Pacifica’s cabin provides an upscale look. Available heated and cooled front seats and available heated outboard second-row seats are welcome touches.
Chrysler offers just one powertrain combination for the 2017 Pacifica. It’s powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine, which was also used in earlier minivan models and found in larger Fiat Chrysler products.
The difference for the 2017 Pacifica is that this engine is now paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. In other models, earlier copies of this transmission were a disappointment as customers complained about sluggishness and delayed gear changes. Several software updates later and the problem appears to have been resolved. Indeed, the engine and transmission combination for the 2017 Pacifica are well suited for this vehicle.
With a curb weight of 4,330 pounds, there’s nothing mini about the Pacifica. However, this model is 250 pounds lighter than its predecessor thanks in large part to greater use of lightweight, but more durable, high-strength steel and aluminum parts. It is EPA rated at 18/28 mpg city/highway.
Step on the gas pedal and the Pacifica moves forward with confidence. In hard acceleration, such as when entering a freeway, the engine responds without hesitation and the gear shifts come quickly.
Thanks to increased stiffness, body roll is minimized. Braking is firm, and the 2017 Pacifica inspires more driver confidence than any Chrysler minivan before it.
Until recently, a significant number of manufacturer infotainment systems were either a comedy or a tragedy, sometimes both. Even before Fiat came along, Chrysler’s Uconnect system was one of the better ones available. And frequent updates year after year have only made this system better.
All LX, Touring and Touring-L models come with a 5-inch touch screen along with voice command and Bluetooth connectivity. All models except the base LX are available with a Uconnect system with an 8.4-inch screen. This version brings in voice text reply and Siri Eyes Free.
The ultimate Uconnect package extends things further by bringing in navigation along with SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic. The directions supplied were accurate and clear with no dropped connections. The easy-to-use app-like display on the home page will remind you of your tablet or smartphone. Uconnect apps include Yelp, Slacker, Pandora and Aha. Mobile connectivity is achieved through the Uconnect smartphone app, which allows you to start your vehicle remotely, engage the climate control system, find your vehicle, review maintenance reports, contact roadside assistance, request emergency services and access other features.
Beyond the basic six-speaker audio package, Chrysler offers a 13-speaker Alpine audio system tied in with the available Uconnect Theater package. The Theater package brings in a 115-volt outlet, a pair of 10-inch seatback touch screens, two pairs of wireless headphones and a Blu-ray/DVD player. It also adds a USB charge port to the third row, which is something you don’t often see in this category. Additional USB ports, auxiliary audio ports and 12-volt outlets are found throughout the cabin.
This model offers standard push-button start, three-zone air conditioning, power sliding doors and an available hands-free power liftgate.
For shoppers preferring the ultimate in sound, a 20-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is also available.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica comes with a suite of air bags, including driver and front passenger knee air bags. A rearview camera and traction and stability control are also standard.
An advanced SafetyTec Group package, available on the Touring-L Plus and the Limited editions, brings in features such as forward collision warning, automatic high-beam headlamp control, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and a surround-view camera. Our test model was equipped with this package, and it worked as touted.
The 2017 Pacifica starts at $28,595, while fully equipped models may top $45,000. Be prepared to pay nearly $40,000 to acquire a Pacifica if you indulge in the many available options. The SafetyTec Group package ($1,995) is hard to pass by and is available only on the Touring-L Plus ($37,895) level and above. Consider the Touring-L Plus trim as offering the best value for the money.
Chrysler is routinely generous with incentives, including cash back, and such offers can help keep your final price down. Leasing offers typically apply to the LX model, but that doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate a deal for a higher trim level.
Chrysler had the minivan market to itself for many years and then ceded leadership to models from Toyota and Honda. Although Chrysler models easily outsold the competition, their quality left much to be desired.
That has changed with the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which is the most advanced minivan available today. If this model matches the competition in reliability, it could build quite an audience for itself in this competitive segment.