Auto Nsider Review: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

The King is back….long live the King!

 

While some may argue that VW’s Bus….or the ’60 Corvair Greenbrier were the first mini-vans on our shores, it was Chrysler who really invented this category in our country…. and absolutely owned it for years.

 

Then came the domestic competition…and then the imports…and the little Plymouth and Dodge boxes-on-wheels lost their points of distinction and became just one more choice in a crowded field.

 

And then America’s preference for anything but a soccer-mom-mobile pretty much put minivans in the back of the parking lot, so to speak, for a decade or two.

 

Those who continued to put functionality before fashion kept the minivans rolling down the assembly lines…albeit a bit more slowly.

 

But thanks to vehicles like Chrysler’s new ’17 Pacifica, minivans just might stage a real comeback.

 

Why?

 

They’re just so darned good.   Feature-packed, functional and user-friendly.

 

Let’s start with the features that we all seem to have come to love so much.

 

Sure….the new Pacifica has all the remote-start, blind-spot, park-assist and lane departure warnings that you’d expect.    Rear seat three-channel video.  And all wrapped in an interior that would be right at home in any luxury vehicle…import or domestic.  Heated and ventilated leather fronts….heated second row captains’ chairs….easily assessable and fairly spacious third-row seating….and then a few real convenient surprises.

 

How ‘bout hands-free parallel parking assist?

 

And more surprises like two built-in vacuums.   Tell me when that won’t come in handy when hauling kids.   And foot-activated side sliding doors on each side.  After all….if it works for tailgates ( which it does just fine on Pacificas ) why not the side doors, too?

 

And there’s more.   Chrysler has invented what is an ingeniously simple way to effortlessly flip down the second and third row seating in mere moments…giving you the opportunity to go to Home Depot AND Lowes….all in the same trip.   Almost like having a pickup with a roof.   And therein lies the appeal of the minivan.

 

It’s pretty much the highest form of just “throw and go” on the road today.

People?   Stuff?    More stuff?    Just load up and go.   Minivans can handle it with ease.

 

Now….all this said, we, admittedly, had the top of the line  “Limited” version of the Pacifica…..the one with everything.     But in this case, “everything” only stickered at a little over 48K.  Now…48K isn’t chump change, but go price a luxury vehicle, a workhorse and a little limo….and come back and tell me if 48K is not a bargain, OK?

 

You can get a Pacifica for under $30,000 list….and as you add the goodies, that sticker will climb.   But for somewhere in the $30’s, you can drive away in a well-equipped, all-purpose vehicle that has most of the user-friendly features that we’ve discussed.

 

All Pacificas come with a 3.6 liter V6 and Chrysler’s new 9-speed automatic. This setup is rated to get you 18 MPG in the city and 28 on the road.   We averaged around 21-22 in our usual back-roads / freeway commute….on regular.

And if you like to tow a few toys, your Pacifica will haul 3,600 lbs…plus up to 8 people….plus a bunch of stuff.

 

Styling?   It’s a little hard to call something that can haul 8 folks + their stuff “svelte”, but let’s just say that the Pacifica has what may be the sportiest profile of any minivan on the market today.   Slightly raked to the rear, but without sacrificing any headroom or utility.

 

All things change, but right now, just as American vehicles take a back seat to no one in terms of quality, fashion or performance, Chrysler’s new ’17 Pacifica minivan now finds itself as the new standard against whom the others will be measured.

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