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2017 Chrysler Pacifica: Reinvention of the Minivan

By Arv Voss, October 8th, 2016

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica emerges as an all-new platform to replace the outgoing premium Town & Country minivan with a wealth of content and features at affordable prices.

Currently available with five trims, the base model LX starts at $28,595, followed by the Touring, which has a beginning price of $30,495. The Touring-L starts at $34,495, and the Pacifica Touring-L Plus starts at $37,895. Finally, the flagship Limited model, which comes with all the bells and whistles, starts at $42,495. (Add $995 destination charge for each model.)

For now, front-wheel drive is standard, though all-wheel drive may become available later in the production cycle; the Pacifica Hybrid will only be available in FWD.

The gasoline-fueled Pacifica draws its motive force from a front, transversely mounted 3.6-liter, 24-valve V-6 Pentastar engine with sequential multiport electronic returnless fuel injection that makes 287 horsepower at 6,400 rpm, while also developing 262 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Energy is delivered to the front wheels through a TorqueFlite nine-speed automatic transmission with rotary dial e-shift technology.

Visually, the Pacifica delivers a sophisticated, sculptural exterior, with a bold athletic stance and aerodynamic profile that emphasizes an aggressive wheel-to-body proportion. Its long wheelbase, widened track, and low ground clearance contribute to its sleek and futuristic image. The sculpted hood is robust with distinctive character lines leading the eye to the upper grille, and it shingles over for a clean, seamless appearance. The rear liftgate glass is "tucked" into and offset from the D-pillars, with the liftgate glass integrated seamlessly into the taillamps for a unified effect.

The interior emphasizes the spaciousness of the vehicle, while mixing high-tech elements with a sculpted flair. Outlets and bezels appear more formal, highlighted by a simple thin chrome ring for a precise feel. Modern color and material trim combinations, inspired by locations across the United States, are highlighted by unique interior accents in the doors and instrument panel. The tone-on-tone control knobs in the center stack feature a spun finish, reminiscent of high-end audio equipment.

The Uconnect touchscreen -- available in either a 5-inch or 8.4-inch size -- sets flush with the instrument panel for a clean, technical look. With a glossy screen surface that allows for higher contrast, the touchscreen feels futuristic and in line with other modern devices, like a tablet.

The spacious interior delivers best-in-class front- and third-row legroom, and an available tri-pane panoramic sunroof that adds to the feeling of openness, with a dual-pane panoramic sunroof over the front- and second-row seats and fixed glass pane over the third row. The HVAC controls are consolidated in the headliner, running cleanly along the rails. In the rear, the HVAC controls are on the passenger-side headliner -- a thoughtful consideration.

Chrysler's enhanced Stow 'n Go system features redesigned seats for added comfort and side support; the seats fold smoothly forward into in-floor tubs, which can also be used for stowage when the seats are deployed. The all-new Stow 'n Go Assist feature helps to further simplify the process.

For quick cleanup, the Stow 'n Vac integrated vacuum, powered by RIDGID, is the highest-powered in-vehicle vacuum in the market. Located in the C-pillar trim area, it offers easy access to all corners of the vehicle with a 14-foot hose -- and beyond, with an available 14-foot extension.

My test Chrysler Pacifica was a Touring L Plus model, featuring the rear entertainment system, tri-panel sunroof, and 18-inch wheels and tires. It was sprayed outside in Granite Crystal metallic and finished inside in Cognac and Alloy tones. The base price was set at $37,895, while the final count and amount came to $42,170.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan delivers a luxury-sedan-like ride, with comfortable and supportive seating, along with responsive damping. Acceleration is more than adequate with a broad torque range. The Pacifica delivers twice the torsional rigidity of the outgoing Town & Country for heightened stability. The transmission shifted smoothly, but on occasion, seemed superfluous and tended to hold some gears longer than necessary, and paddle shifters would have been a big plus.

There are so many creature comfort features included as standard fare in the new Pacifica that it is truly a marvel in family transportation, delivering what may well be the ultimate in functionality and versatility.

Think of the Pacifica not as a "Soccer Mom" van of old, but as a fully equipped adventure pod for the entire family and all their gear.

Specifications

Base price $37,895 (as tested: $42,170)
Curb weight 4,330 lbs.
Displacement 3.6-liter
Engine type 24-valve V-6 w/SMPFI
Epa mileage rating 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 19 gal.
Horsepower (net) 287 at 6400 rpm
Overall length 203.6 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 262 at 4000 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Vehicle type 8-passenger FWD minivan
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