If you've either ridden in or owned a steady flow of Honda Odysseys and Toyota Siennas throughout your life, you are forgiven for thinking that Chrysler minivans have largely existed in a state of perpetual rental fleet mediocrity. While Chrysler was a pioneer of the segment in the '80s, the last couple decades have been a lot more like the rolling equivalent of Cleveland Browns or Wachowski movies after The Matrix. But here comes the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. It's a new name for a new van, and get ready to reset your expectations.
Chrysler had a crossover wagon/SUV named Pacifica during the mid-2000s, but there's no relation here. Instead, this Pacifica replaces the now discontinued Town & Country minivan. That Chrysler is willing to shelve the name recognition of the familiar T&C is a hint of how different this new Pacifica is. It's built on a new light-yet-strong body structure and is wrapped up with svelte styling and a handsome-looking and well-finished interior.
The Pacifica packs some cool new optional features, too, including a dual-screen rear entertainment system, automatic braking for forward collision mitigation, a built-in vacuum cleaner and an automated parallel and perpendicular parking system. Also interesting is the new Pacifica Hybrid variant. It's the first hybrid minivan on the market (plug-in variant or otherwise) and Chrysler says you can drive it up to 30 miles on pure electric power alone before it switches over to regular gasoline/electric hybrid power.
All of this propels the Pacifica right in the mix as one of top minivans on the market for 2017. Take a test drive and we think you'll be surprised on how closely the Pacifica can match (or even exceed) the look, feel and performance of the segment all-stars, the Odyssey and Sienna, plus the Kia's upstart minivan, the Sedona. It's also competitively priced, often coming in a couple grand lower for a similar mix of features. So, the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl? The Wachowski brothers making a superior Matrix sequel? Clearly, stranger things can happen. Just look at the 2017 Pacifica.
Standard safety equipment for the 2017 Pacifica includes traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, side curtain airbags, front seat side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and a rearview camera. The antilock brake system also includes a couple extra features, including periodic brake-rotor drying in rainy conditions and automatically snugging the brake pads to the rotors when the driver abruptly lifts off the gas.
The subscription-based Uconnect Access service includes emergency assistance, remote door locking/unlocking and vehicle location services.
Rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert are optional for the LX and Touring (SafetyTec Group package) and standard on all other Pacificas. If you're backing up in a Pacifica, the rear parking sensors have automatic low-speed braking functionality that can be applied when an object is detected and the driver takes no action.
The optional Advanced SafetyTec Group package is optional for the Touring-L Plus and Limited and includes automatic wipers, automatic high-beam headlight control, lane departure warning, lane departure intervention, forward collision warning, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree top-down camera system and an automated parking system (parallel and perpendicular).
In an Edmunds simulated panic stop, the Pacifica slowed from 60 mph to zero in 119 feet, a shorter-than-average stopping distance for a minivan.
trim levels & features
The Chrysler Pacifica minivan comes in five trim levels: LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and Limited. The Pacifica Hybrid will be sold in Premium and Platinum trims, but check back later for complete information on the Hybrid.
Starting things off is the Pacifica LX with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, heated mirrors, remote locking and unlocking, push-button ignition, seven-passenger seating, folding/collapsible second-row Stow 'n Go seats, a 60/40-split folding third-row seat, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), three-zone climate control, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, an electric parking brake, a 5-inch center touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, voice commands, Uconnect Access and a six-speaker sound system with a USB and auxiliary inputs.
Moving up to the Touring gets you those features plus power-sliding rear doors, automatic headlights, keyless entry and ignition, and satellite radio.
The midgrade Touring-L adds on a power liftgate, roof rails, fancier exterior trim, foglights, remote engine start, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, LED taillights, a security alarm, automatic climate control (three-zone), leather seating, heated front seats, second- and third-row sunshades and added storage for the first-row floor console.
You get even more with the Touring-L Plus. Its features include the above plus upgraded headlights, an eight-way power front passenger seat, an upgraded driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, upgraded upholstery, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, a 13-speaker sound system and a second-row rear entertainment system with dual 10-inch touchscreens, a Blu-ray player, a 115-volt power outlet, and additional USB and HDMI inputs.
Finally, there's the Limited. The entertainment system is optional here but otherwise it has all of the above plus 18-inch wheels, hands-free liftgate and sliding door functionality, two sunroofs (panoramic for the first two rows and an additional fixed sunroof above the third row), xenon headlights, LED foglights and power-folding mirrors. On the inside you get driver-seat memory settings, upgraded interior ambient interior lighting, a navigation system, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, an in-vehicle vacuum cleaner and power-folding functionality for the third-row seat.
Many of the features of the upper trim levels can be added to the lower trim levels as options. Other major options include 20-inch wheels, a removable center second-row seat (boosting passenger capacity to eight), a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and a tow package.
Every 2017 Chrysler Pacifica comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent to the front wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Automatic engine stop-start functionality (to help save gas when you're not moving at stoplights, for instance) will be added midway through the model year.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Pacifica accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, a few tenths quicker than rivals. EPA-estimated fuel economy checks in at 22 mpg combined (18 city/28 highway). This is an average number for the minivan segment.
Properly equipped, the regular Pacifica can tow up to 3,600 pounds.
The 2017 Pacific boasts an agreeably smooth and quiet ride, even with the larger 20-inch wheels specified. Whether you're driving around town or heading out for a weeklong road trip, the Pacifica will keep you and your passengers comfortable. It's also impressively quiet at highway speeds thanks to minimal amounts of wind, road and engine noise. The steering wheel is well-weighted, but road feedback is totally nonexistent. There's not much body roll around turns, so passengers won't feel nauseated while the van climbs steep mountain grades.
The V6 feels strong off the line, provided you push the accelerator pedal far enough to prevent the nine-speed transmission from upshifting. Although we aren't fans of this transmission in other applications (notably, the Acura TLX and Jeep Renegade), it behaves better here. The transmission still climbs into high gears quickly and is hesitant to downshift when you need more power, but upshifts aren't as herky-jerky as in those other cars.
Spending time in the old Town & Country minivan is a bit like hanging out at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum — lots of neat stuff to play with, but a dated vibe is unavoidable. For the new Pacifica, you're taking a trip to Los Angeles' new Broad museum. The Pacifica's dashboard has a modern and flowing look that's topped off by the new metallic rotary gear selector knob that looks and feels more upscale than the typical stubby minivan shifter.
Chrysler has also adopted the more open feel of the Odyssey and Sienna by taking out the T&C's traditional center console and instead going with an open floor between the driver and passenger. This creates more available storage for your various personal effects, and the Pacifica now rivals the Odyssey for best mix of cubbies, slots and bins. Interior material quality is high, and the controls have a solid feel to them. Overall, the Pacifica looks and feels impressively upscale inside.
The Pacifica also packs Chrysler's latest tech hardware. If you can, get the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen. Uconnect is one of our favorite infotainment systems because of its crisp and clear graphics, quick processing and easy-to-use nature. If you do a lot of road trips with your kids, you'll enjoy opting for the new Uconnect Theater rear entertainment system. Besides having Blu-ray disc playback for the two 10-inch touchscreens mounted in the back of the front seats, the system also includes the ability to individually input various devices (smartphones, gaming consoles) and has a few built-in apps and games as well.
One thing carried over from last year are the useful folding/collapsible second-row captain chair seats, which Chrysler calls Stow 'n Go. If you frequently need to switch from carrying people to hauling cargo, they are invaluable. Without much effort, you can individually fold the second-row seats and then store them in under-floor compartments (which can also be used for storage if you've got the seats deployed). The only downside to these seats is that they're not quite as adjustable or comfortable as the second-row seats in rival minivans, nor can you get them as high-end lounge-style chairs as you can in those vans.
A new addition this year is an available center seat that boosts the Pacifica's passenger count to eight. It's removable, but there's no under-floor storage for this seat, however. In the way back is the class-typical 60/40-split third-row seat. It's more comfortable for adults than the old T&C's seat, though, and we think the Pacifica now has the most supportive and comfy seat in its class.
If you've got child safety seats installed in the second-row seats, getting to the third row is easier this year. Passengers can still use the center isle between the seats, but there's also a second-row seat tilt feature that allows you to tip those Stow 'n Go seats forward without having to remove the safety seats.
When you don't need the third-row seat, you can fold it down into a rear storage area. Power operation is an exclusive feature of the Limited trim level; just push a button and the individual seat sections can be raised or lowered in about 17 seconds.
Behind the third-row seats, the Pacifica offers 32.3 cubic feet of luggage space. Fold those seats down and 87.5 cubic feet becomes available. Maximum cargo capacity is 140.5 cubes. These capacities are typical for the latest batch of minivans.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.