During the Q&A portion of a press conference for the all-new Pacifica, one attendee asked – and I’m paraphrasing here – “why use the name from a mediocre vehicle for your new minivan?” The response from Chrysler was something about how the old Pacifica was actually “a great vehicle” that was “discontinued for other reasons”, which was met with some skepticism by journalists in the crowd. Then the new Pacifica’s head of exterior design chimed in with, “it’s just a great name!” Yes, it actually is a great name. In this age of alphabet-soup-nameplates, “Pacifica” is refreshing, which is the one word I would use to describe Chrysler’s replacement for the outgoing Town & Country.
People are not buying minivans for their driving dynamics, but the all-new Pacifica is hoping to change that, if even just slightly. The drive is surprisingly car-like, partly due to its 250 pounds of weight reduction versus the Town & Country. During a 140-mile loop through southern California, there were times I caught myself forgetting I was in a minivan for a second or two. The vehicle drives much smaller than it is, with properly weighted steering and decent acceleration. The engine of choice is an updated 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. Zero-60 mph estimates are in the low 7-second range. During my day with the car, the 9-speed automatic never got in the way of driving enjoyment. It found the right gear and settled in until it was called upon by a change in speed. For now, the minivan will only come in FWD configuration but AWD in the future is a possibility.
With its new minivan, Chrysler is hoping to change people’s minds about what a minivan is (and what Pacifica means to them). With exterior styling that rivals or bests the competitors (in my opinion), and a host of interior appointments that make family hauling something to be looked forward to, the company is poised to have a hit on its hands. Look for the new Pacifica to start arriving at dealerships in April. So what’s next for FCA… the all-new Dodge Neon?
*The Pacifica Hybrid will be covered in a separate press event later this year.*
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
As-tested Price: $42,495 (+$995 destination)
Engine: 3.6L V6
Power: 287 horsepower
Torque: 262 lb-ft
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy (mpg): 18/28 city/highway
Acceleration 0-60 mph (estimated): 7.0 seconds
Seating Capacity: 7 or 8, depending on 2nd row configuration