2017 Chrysler Pacifica: Monthly Update for March 2017
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
It was a light mileage month for our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. We added 1,181 miles to the odometer, short of our usual average (we aim for 1,600-1,700 a month), mostly on longer commutes to and from the office. This gave us a heightened sense of the Pacifica's livability, and that feeling only improves the more we spend time in the van. Whether it's the second-row USB charging ports, reclining third-row seats or rear headrests that the driver can fold down at the press of a button, the Pacifica makes a convincing case as a homegrown alternative to the Asian vans that dominate the segment.
Of note, we achieved the best fuel economy of our test so far in March, averaging 26.2 mpg on one tank in mixed driving. That kind of performance nudged our lifetime fuel economy up to 18.5 mpg, which still seems woefully underachieving. We want a modern minivan than can clear 20 mpg all day, not one that hovers around the fuel economy of a full-size truck. This makes us all the more curious to see what the forthcoming Pacifica Hybrid brings to the table.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We added 1,181 miles to the Pacifica's odometer (trying to average 1,600-1,700 per month), using 57.3 gallons of 87-octane fuel over four fill-ups to do it. That worked out to a tidy average of 20.7 mpg, which boosted the lifetime average of our test by 0.2 mpg.
Average lifetime mpg: 18.5
EPA mpg rating: 22 combined (18 city/28 highway)
Best fill mpg: 26.2
Best range: 426.6 miles
Current odometer: 13,167 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"When using adaptive cruise control to crawl along in rush-hour traffic, the brakes produce a grinding noise, like you've worn the linings down to the bare metal. The system functions fine, but it sounds unhealthy." — Jonathan Elfalan, Senior Road Test Editor (**this issue is also mentioned in at least one owners' forum)
"I can't get comfortable in the front seat. It's certainly not the worst, but the backrest is built in a way that made it hard for me to find a balance between too upright and too reclined. My upper back was starting to ache a little by the end of my 1.5-hour commute, and I can't think of a worse feature in a minivan than giving Dad a backache a few hours into the family road trip to the Grand Canyon." — Will Kaufman, Automotive Editor
"I like that they ran a seam along the fake leather padding under the head unit. When I go to use the touchscreen, I automatically place my fingers on the seam to stabilize my pointer finger. The 'leather' trim itself feels very plasticky, but the seam is a nice texture." — Will Kaufman
"From the driver's seat, the sound this engine makes over 5K rpm is addictive. It also goes pretty well. I'm also impressed that the transmission will hold revs for a moment if you've been giving it the beans — no Sport mode needed." — Will Kaufman
"Agreed, engine sounds great when you lay into it. Has a nice growl with more teeth than vans from Honda, Toyota or Kia." — Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
"I appreciate how well the automatic cruise control handles stop-and-go traffic. Not all ACC systems accelerate from a full stop, but the Pacifica's will. It doesn't inspire a lot of confidence when someone changes into your lane, however. It only recognizes the merging car when it's square in front of you and will continue accelerating until the car is full in your lane, then brake hard. There were definitely a few moments I felt I had to step in or risk a collision." — Will Kaufman
"I second other editors' thoughts that the shift dial is placed too close to the volume dial, and I prefer turning a dial instead of pressing a steering wheel button. Your hand naturally wants to turn the large shift dial. If I owned this van, I'd probably have to learn to use the steering wheel buttons." — Ron Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor
"The nav map is laughably sluggish when trying to manually scroll around. Dragging doesn't really work at all, and tapping new positions is a lot of inputs. If I keep a finger on the screen, the reticle will keep moving toward my finger, but with a tremendous amount of lag. The map will keep scrolling for 10-15 seconds after I remove my finger." — Will Kaufman
"Couldn't play music from my iPhone via USB. I tried plugging it in different ports, but the Uconnect system never recognized it, nor my girlfriend's iPhone. Bluetooth audio worked great, but as many audiophiles know, you get better sound quality over a wired connection." — Ron Montoya