Under the Hood: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler is determined to keep the minivan flag flying and has pumped serious money into the 2018 Pacifica, as well as teaming up with Google’s Waymo to install self-driving hardware that could eventually turn the humble minivan into a technical tour de force.

The Pacifica is safe, smooth, and elegant. Although it isn’t a cheap machine since it gets seriously expensive if you load it with enticing options, this is a minivan you could actually be proud of. You get powered sliding side doors if you order the fancier models, and a thoroughly modern cockpit, in a car that is good enough to spark a minivan renaissance.

Performance Specs

The Pacifica starts at $26,995, which comes with a surprising amount of standard equipment. That’s a 287 bhp, front-wheel-drive car, with 262 lb/ft of torque, that is fast enough and comes with a solid infotainment system.

There are more luxurious offerings and that’s really the key to the Pacifica. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is the only engine, apart from the fuel-efficient hybrid, but with the nine-speed automatic, it gets you to 60 mph in less than eight seconds and will top out at about 110 mph.

The range-topping Chrysler Pacifica Limited comes with the V6 and a $43,695 price tag. Also, it comes with eight seats trimmed in premium Nappa leather and you can dress up the interior with infotainment and finishing touches.

The LX, Touring Plus, Touring L, and Touring L Plus cover just about every other connotation of seven and eight seat layouts and slot in between the base car and the Limited flagship. Most of them come with one of the trickiest stowing seats in the automotive world. You can fold the seats flat into the floorspace and turn the Pacifica into a serious van.

Now the Hybrid comes with the same engine, but it serves as a generator for an electric motor. It gives you 84 MPGe, or a consistent 32 mpg more or less anywhere in real numbers. It’s a 260 bhp car that should save you serious money over its lifetime, but it is a little slower and more sluggish in the bends.

Fuel Efficiency

The 3.6-liter V6 returns a solid and dependable 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which is solid for a car that weighs in at 5125 lbs. The hybrid, inevitably, is much kinder on your wallet, after you’ve got over the initial expense. It will return 32 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, so if you’re going to do big miles then it might be worth the upgrade.

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Safety and Infotainment Features

Since the Chrysler Pacifica is designed to transport the family, safety is one of the non-negotiables. It’s a five-star car on the NHTSA crash tests and an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, which means this is about as solid a minivan as you can find.

Every model gets rear cross traffic alert, a blind spot sensor, and rear parking sensors. You can now specify active safety features, including front automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and lane-keeping assist.

Chrysler opted for a standard five-inch infotainment screen, but you can upgrade to the 8.4-inch Uconnect system that is just a much nicer experience. You can hook it up to your phone and scroll through apps, as well as using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There’s an optional system for the rear where you scan stream your favorites on the go thanks to onboard 4G Wi-Fi, as well as storing your favorites to keep the family entertained. You can even order this car with a built-in vacuum cleaner.

How It Stacks up Against the Competition

The minivan sector isn’t the hottest division right now, but Chrysler deserves credit for raising the bar so comprehensively. It’s an expensive car if you go to town with the options, but it’s also the safest in its class and a good-looking car that hides its weight well.

Competitors include the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, and its own stablemate, the Dodge Grand Caravan. Simply put, it’s a straight fight between the Pacifica and the Odyssey.

They are both great examples of the modern-day minivan and the Odyssey is just as modern. The design isn’t quite as cohesive as the Chrysler and the price and power are more or less a wash. So personal preference will separate these two highly-advanced vans, but the Pacifica’s trick seat stowage is a secret weapon here.

The Kia Sedona is cheaper, and the Dodge Grand Caravan is a bargain, but they aren’t anywhere near as good. The Dodge is nearing the end of its days and the Pacifica will undoubtedly form the basis of its next van, while the Sedona is a budget alternative.

It’s naive to ignore the crossover SUVs that are cannibalizing the sector, of course. The Toyota Highlander is a capable car that offers a different approach and you can also include the Chevy Traverse to that equation. Both of them are great cars and could easily take another sale from the minivan market, but the Pacifica can hold its head up high next to these marauding invaders.

Pros

  • Stunning and fresh new minivan design.
  • Safest van in its class.
  • Trickiest seat storage system on the market.
  • Best infotainment in the class is on the options list.

Cons

  • A fruity performance engine could be a winner.
  • Base five-inch infotainment is an easy upgrade, but it’s a hidden cost.
  • Power sliding doors only come on the Touring model and up.
  • It’s easy to spend a lot of money on extras.
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