2021 Chrysler Pacifica
- Starting around $35,000
- Fall 2020
What to expect
- Sleeker styling
- All-wheel drive is now offered
- New version of the praiseworthy Uconnect infotainment system
- Part of the first Pacifica minivan generation introduced for the 2017 model year
What is it?
It's been four years since Chrysler debuted the Pacifica minivan, so what better time than now to give it a bit of a makeover? This refreshed 2021 Chrysler Pacifica goes further than the typical update, though, with new styling and added features.
Starting at the front, the Pacifica gets a new fascia with a larger grille, reshaped headlights and more aggressive air inlets. The back is also restyled, with a full-width taillight stretching from edge to edge. These alterations go a long way toward keeping the Pacifica fresh without fundamentally changing its character.
There are more significant upgrades beneath the sheet metal as all-wheel drive makes a return to the lineup for the first time in 17 years. The all-wheel-drive Town & Country (the Pacifica's forebear) was discontinued back in 2004 with the introduction of Stow 'n Go seating, but thanks to some clever engineering, both features now coexist in the same minivan. The new AWD system is more advanced than before too. It can send up to 100% of engine torque to the rear wheels if needed or completely decouple them to save on fuel in typical driving.
The Pacifica AWD will only be offered with the standard V6 engine. The Pacifica Hybrid will remain exclusively front-wheel-drive, but it also represents the only hybrid variant in the minivan class. With over 30 miles of EV-only range, it remains a standout. Both AWD and Hybrid Pacificas will be available in all trim levels and in coming months, AWD will also be offered on new 2020 models.
The makeover continues on the inside as the 2021 Pacifica will be the first vehicle in the Fiat Chrysler family to receive the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system. According to FCA engineers, the Android-powered Uconnect 5 system will operate more like mobile devices, process information five times faster, allow for over-the-air updates of firmware and maps, have Amazon Alexa integration, and enable two wireless phone connections simultaneously. (Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported.) Displaying all this spiffy content is a new 10.1-inch high-definition touchscreen.
Other tech features include FamCAM, a video system that allows the driver or front passenger to monitor second-row occupants. It includes a zoom function to keep tabs on rear-facing infant seats too. Slightly older passengers in that row will enjoy more built-in games from the available rear entertainment system.
Joining the 2021 Pacifica lineup will be the Pinnacle trim, which, as the name suggests, is the most luxurious and expensive model. In addition to quilted premium leather upholstery and pillows, the designers added wood trim inspired by midcentury furniture. The Pinnacle also serves as a showcase for the available Ultra center console that blends more seamlessly into the dash. The larger console splits storage between a top tray and a larger bin underneath; Chrysler says it provides 30% more storage than the standard console.
Why does it matter?
Minivans may not be the sexiest vehicles out there, but when it comes to hauling a lot of people and gear, they're hard to beat. The Pacifica's refreshed exterior styling might even sway some SUV buyers to the van life. For the most part, minivans like the Pacifica are easier to drive than similarly capable three-row SUVs, and they have unique features that are designed with families in mind.
What does it compete with?
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica refresh should make it more competitive against the top-rated Honda Odyssey and likely increase its lead over the Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona and horribly outdated Dodge Grand Caravan.
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is more attractive inside and out. With new features and the addition of all-wheel drive to a lineup that already benefits from a hybrid powertrain, the Pacifica has broadened its appeal to shoppers.