For a lot of people both industry watchers like me and customers alike, the new generation of mini-vans from Chrysler has been long coming. The last one has been with us now since 2008 with few changes, and it’s gotten more than quite old.
The wait is over, with a an all-new one for 2017 that even gets a new name with Pacifica. Well, it’s not an entirely new name, as the Pacifica was a crossover that was similar to a minivan some years back. Whether the Town and Country name returns a long-wheel base version later is as of yet unknown.
The new Pacifica thankfully brings a fresh look and style in every direction. Fresh at least in reference to the old minivans. It looks like alike a Chrysler 200 turned into a minivan actually, with much the same face, fender designs and overall family DNA. Not a bad thing.
The rear three quarter view is nice, bringing something entirely new to the minivan set. The kicked up C-Pillar adds a sense of sportiness that knocks the dowdy aura that minivans have had down a few notches.
It rides on an all-new global chassis architecture that we’ll likely see other vehicles use in the future, like a Dodge. It’s lighter by about 250 pounds with a body structure Chrysler says is stiffest in class. This allowed for better suspension tuning to raise the game on handling.
And there, dividends should come from extensive use of cast and forged aluminum suspension components front and rear, all of which are mounted to sub-frames with larger bushings than before. And the rear suspension is now a fully independent design.
The interior is what sells minivans in most cases though. Here you’ll find the design again is much like a Chrysler 200, only scaled up and made more versatile. The dash has a flowing design with the latest generation infotainment systems front and center.
The list of new entertainment and connectivity features available here are way to endless to list in our short look here. But the highlights are the newest generation UConnect system offers both hosted and connected services as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
There’s the UConnect Theater rear seat entertainment system too, which has a myriad of sources for entertainment and even built-in apps and games. This leads us to the fact that lots of storage and places for your devices is the key component to a good minivan, and the Pacifica has it all.
This includes cubbies everywhere you look, lots of power plugs and USB ports, cup holders and even a new stow-n-vac built-in vacuum cleaner. Kinda like the Honda Odyssey. There’s seating for up to eight people depending on the model. And with the stow and go seats all folded down you have a fully flat load floor that rivals any crossover or full-sized SUV available.
Power for the Chrysler Pacifica starts with the second-generation 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine that has 287 horsepower and a standard nine-speed automatic transmission. This Chrysler says is best in class power.
The big headline here is the Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid that has and Atkinson Cycle version of the 3.6 liter V6 engine and two electric motors, along with a huge lithium-ion batter pack which can be plugged in and charged.
With a total system 248 horsepower, the Pacifica Hybrid will be able to go up to 30 miles on electric power alone. Pretty impressive when you consider that’s about what the Chevrolet Volt could do when it first came out. Chrysler says it will have an 80 MPGe rating.
The Plug-In Hybrid is a first for minivans, but not the only one for the new Pacifica. Chrysler says there’s over 115 firsts with the new minivan from technical innovations to new safety features. And they expect with all this, that it should achieve an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ honor.