2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Road Test

The Pacifica is going to be a very interesting experiment.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Chrysler has created the sportiest looking minivan ever, yet hasn’t forgotten its classy roots. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
be honest for a moment. The Chrysler brand isn’t exactly robust when it comes to sales or models. As of last year it has become Canada’s slowest selling mainstream brand other than Mini, Fiat and Smart. Yes that means even Mitsubishi outsells Chrysler, and by a significant margin. It’s not doing much better in its home market south of the 49th either, outselling the three city car brands just mentioned as well as Mazda and Mitsubishi last year, but Mazda, which is known for selling poorly in the U.S., has already sold almost 50 percent more units within the first two months of 2017, so it’s not looking good for Chryco.

The problem? Chrysler currently has just three models in its lineup including the 200 mid-size sedan, the 300 full-size sedan, and the Pacifica minivan, although the
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The Pacifica’s long, low profile features some nice body sculpting. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
200 is slated for cancellation when 2017 ends and sales have dropped off considerably since this was announced. As you may have noticed none of Chrysler’s models are SUVs, and the others that will remain after 2017 fight it out in what has become a rather niche full-size sedan segment, and similarly fringe-market minivan class (Dodge Grand Caravan aside). Sport utilities are the industry’s growth sector right now, so if you don’t have any skin in the SUV game you don’t stand much chance of winning.

There’s some internet talk of a new crossover once again dubbed Aspen (although nothing yet substantiated), as well as additional chatter about something smaller based
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Chrysler brought some concept car fantasy into production reality, resulting in a thoroughly innovative design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
on the new Jeep Renegade/Fiat 500, and to be fair Chrysler’s longtime rival Buick is doing very well with its entry-level luxury Encore so a similarly sized Chrysler could work, but so far the only new model officially hinted at for future production is something along the lines of the rather whacky Portal minivan concept that debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which is more of an all-electric, self-driving-capable transportation pod, and will only become available sometime after 2018 if at all. While interesting, EVs don’t noticeably help overall sales numbers and on top of this, Chrysler hardly needs two minivans. And by the way, we won’t see a new 300 sedan until 2019, and even that’s only expected to be major update to the current model, similarly to how Chrysler updated the previous one in every respect except its LX platform architecture. And for all we know, the way FCA has been cancelling its car models to make way for SUVs, that 300 redesign may be its swansong.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Chrome lines of trim cross over each other for a unique look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
way I see it, the new Pacifica minivan is a Hail Mary halo pass, a last minute buzzer-beating swoosh that has to succeed in order to keep Chrysler afloat. Don’t get me wrong, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) can probably keep the brand on life support for a few more years until its next phase of new models come along and hopefully revive Walter P’s 92-year-old blue-ribbon chrome-winged namesake brand, but CEO Sergio Marchionne will want to leave a more financially sound legacy before his expected 2018 retirement, and his five-year plan, laid out in 2014, isn’t exactly experiencing the “near-perfect execution” it required starting out.

Rather than go into detail about the many costly recalls FCA has endured, the embarrassing sales numbers scandal, and the expensive disaster otherwise known as
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
LED-enhanced HID headlamps are as animalistic as they come. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the aforementioned 200 and the already canceled Dodge Dart that share its underpinnings, and also not focusing on the Italy-centric Lancia brand that was until recently heavily tied to Chrysler’s 200, 300, Town & Country, Dodge Journey, etcetera, but is now down to one single subcompact model (although its ultra-sexy website is somewhat redeeming), I’d rather talk about FCA’s many success stories within the Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands, but besides being stuck within a seemingly lame brand (in the horse with a broken leg meaning), the Pacifica deserves our attention and respect. After all, it’s easily the best minivan I’ve ever experienced.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Continuously flowing lines provide a harmonious appearance front front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
you likely know, the Pacifica nameplate has been around the block a few times. It first hit the show stage in 1999 as a concept luxury minivan that kind of looked like an awkwardly tall LHS sedan (if you remember that one) with an aftermarket fiberglass roof extension. It rode on the Chrysler NS minivan platform architecture that also underpinned the namesake Town & Country, now defunct Plymouth Voyager, and legendary Dodge Caravan of the era.

The first production Pacifica was a three-row mid-size crossover SUV with premium aspirations that was actually way ahead of its time and so good, for a domestic, that it had to be priced much higher than most Chrysler buyers were willing to pay. Still, it sold reasonable well, reaching 5,159 units in 2004, its first year in Canada, and 92,363 during the same year in the U.S. Canadian sales tapered
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
These beautiful 20-inch alloys are the largest offered in the minivan class.(Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
off to 3,944 in 2005, 3,876 in 2006, and 2,016 in 2007, while U.S. sales followed a similar path with 85,557 deliveries in 2005, 78,243 in 2006, and 53,947 in 2007 before being canceled, which was a real shame.

I was on the California press trip and was very impressed, as the Pacifica was an excellent near-luxury crossover SUV that only got better with each passing year thanks to an upgraded drivetrain and regular refinements. I liked it so much, in fact, that while spending a week in the fully loaded press model I brought it over to show my mom, who incidentally had been a GM buyer her entire life. She was driving a Buick Somerset at the time and needed a larger vehicle, but all Buick could offer her was the Rendezvous – enough said. As you might expect after seeing a Rendezvous (and Pontiac Aztek) she was thoroughly impressed by the Pacifica too, and therefore bought her first Chrysler. In fact, she bought that very same
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
No matter where you look, elegance is a Pacifica trait. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
press car after it was decommissioned, and it’s still serving my stepsister faithfully today. Of course, Chrysler PR gave my mom a fabulous deal or it wouldn’t have happened, because the retail MSRP of that model was more than $50k, which would’ve been too much for my mom to pay for a car, and frankly was a lot to ask for any domestic CUV in the mid-’00s. Base models didn’t cost that much, but nevertheless they weren’t being pushed out the door like today’s Grand Caravan, so a well optioned Pacifica SUV was quite a stretch for most families, hence its low sales and inevitable cancellation.

Fast forward an eventful decade, and Chrysler now feels comfortable asking $37,995 plus freight and dealer fees for its new Pacifica, although it’s back to being a minivan instead of a crossover SUV. That
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The base van has incandescent taillights, but these LED-infused clusters enhance safety. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
might seem strange considering the world’s current love affair with sport utilities and comparative lack of interest in most minivans, stranger still when factoring in that Chrysler doesn’t offer a single SUV, crossover or otherwise as noted earlier, but it is what it is. The top-tier Pacifica Limited before you is priced at $52,995 before options, which comes close to the old Pacifica crossover’s upper limit, yet most Canadians have less expendable income now than we did 10 years ago. Like I said in the beginning, the Pacifica is going to be a very interesting experiment.

Of course, we didn’t have such low financing rates in 2004, which gives the new Pacifica a strong advantage, and here in Canada (at least) we do love our minivans.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
With brake lights on, the LEDs provide a bright ring around the entire lighting element, as well as distinctive character. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Last year we had our best year of minivan sales in quite a while, with 87,490 units down the road, 51,513 of which were Grand Caravans. Not a bad time to be bringing a new minivan to market, I suppose. Canadian numbers are somewhat disproportionate when compared to our neighbours to the south, however. U.S. Grand Caravan sales were just 127,678 units last year (remember that their consumer base is about 10 times larger than ours), while the Toyota Sienna’s 13,404 Canadian sales and Honda Odyssey’s 12,311 were more proportional to their U.S. sales of 127,791 and 120,846 units respectively.

And how’s the Pacifica doing? In the U.S. it sold 62,366 units after its April launch, which is similar volume to the two Japanese competitors during the same eight months, while Canadian sales, which started a month earlier, were considerably slower
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
A variety of interior motifs are offered, with the two-tone black and Deep Mocha combo being particularly rich. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
at 2,560 deliveries. Why? You can buy a base Pacifica LX for just $28,595 in the U.S. and this Limited version for $42,495, which actually undercuts its aforementioned competitors priced at $29,750 to $46,170 for the Sienna and $29,850 to $45,325 for the Odyssey. Here in Canada, however, the Sienna starts at $33,690 and comes mostly loaded at $48,880 and the Odyssey hits the road for as little as $31,090 and tops out at $49,190. As a reminder the Pacifica LX starts at $37,995 and its top Limited trim arrives at $52,995.

Of note, there’s a Kia Sedona in the mix too, and it deserves attention for more than just its $27,995 base and $46,695 fully loaded pricing, but nevertheless it’s a Kia so sales are naturally low (sorry Kia, but that’s just reality) with calendar 2016 resulting in 4,792 deliveries in Canada and an equivalent 44,264 in the U.S. (they truly deserve better).

Of course,
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Looking and feeling like a premium luxury car was Chrysler’s intent. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) has the Grand Caravan to do battle with the Sedona as well as basic Sienna and Odyssey trims, the long-in-tooth albeit still very good domestic van starting at $23,395 and climaxing at $38,995, but we all know that aggressive sale pricing makes this model even more affordable, sometimes even reaching into the teens for entry level “Canada Value Package” examples (let’s hope it’s here forever as it offers one of the best values for any vehicle in the country, FCA doing a great deal more service to Canadian families by keeping this vehicle alive than our current overspending and under-delivering government). On the other side of the spectrum the Pacifica, as mentioned, is the best minivan in the country, and therefore starts off where the Grand Caravan tops out.

If the Pacifica didn’t exist I’d recommend the Grand Caravan for two reasons, that value
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
These stylish primary gauges are filled with a very large TFT multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
proposition just mentioned and its beyond-words brilliant Stow ‘n Go second-row seating system. Let’s face it. We don’t buy minivans for style. It’s nice if they look good, as is certainly the case with the new Pacifica, as well as the Sienna and Sedona (some seem to like the Odyssey too), but that’s not the key reason for stepping up. Rather, we choose minivans for their unparalleled passenger and load carrying capabilities. FCA’s Stow ‘n Go allows the flexibility of dropping the kids off at school or a game, going straight to the hardware store for a full load of 4×8 building supplies, dropping all the cargo off at home, and then heading back to get the kids, while never having to pull heavy and awkward seats out of the back and labouriously carry them into the garage for storage. Truly, nothing
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Bright and blue, the Pacifica’s instruments can be seen in any light. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
comes close to the Grand Caravan or this Pacifica, and I wouldn’t even consider buying another van for this reason alone. When you have a job to do you first need to buy the right tool, then you can concern yourself about style, performance, reliability, safety, or any other possible detractor.

As far as useful tools go, the Pacifica looks very good “for a minivan.” You knew that caveat was coming, but let’s be reasonable, there’s only so much you can do with a one-box design. Van makers have truly stretched the style envelope in recent years, with minivans looking better than ever, and Chrysler deserves credit for creating a family hauler you can feel proud to be seen in.

As for drivability, it won’t leave you cold when the need for speed arises. This is due
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
You’ll be hard pressed to find better switchgear on a nicer steering wheel in any luxury car. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
to the only noticeable carryover item on the entire vehicle (other than Stow ‘n Go), Chryco’s superb 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 that’s good for 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque in its new state of tune, which is four horsepower and two lb-ft greater than when available in last year’s Town & Country. Of equal importance is a new nine-speed automatic transmission, a minivan first that increases forward gears by three over the outgoing model, and is controlled via an innovative space-saving rotary E-shift dial similar to the Ram pickup, while the front wheels continue to do the driving (of note, the Sienna comes with AWD).

Claimed fuel economy is an impressive 12.9 L/100km city, 8.4 highway and 10.4 combined (for best in class highway mileage, incidentally), compared to 14.1, 9.5 and
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The nicely designed, tightly packed centre stack offers loads of features in an efficient package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
11.8 respectively for last year’s Town & Country, plus straight-line performance has improved as well.

While we’re talking fuel economy and minivan firsts, Chrysler recently unveiled its new Pacifica Hybrid that actually uses plug-in technology, a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, and an innovative electrically variable transmission featuring two electric motors that are both capable of turning the drive wheels for a zero-emissions full-EV range of up to 53 km plus a total hybrid driving range of 911 km (yes, an odd number for a U.S. manufacturer to arrive at). This one really whets my PHEV appetite as I’m a big fan of plug-ins, but I’m experiencing some cognitive dissonance on this subject as the bins below the floor that normally house the second-row Stow ‘n Go seats when heading to that building supplies store (or hauling
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system is second to none in the minivan segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
furniture, etc) are fully packed with batteries, therefore negating my BIG reason for owning an FCA minivan, or any minivan for that matter. I guess I’ll be sticking with conventional power.

Of course, I’ll give the Pacifica Hybrid a fair review when one ends up in my garage as not everyone lives by my personal priorities (hardly), but until then it’s difficult not to be a fan of the aforementioned Pentastar V6. This engine is as good as anything from Europe’s premium brands, from near motionless NVH levels at idle to its sonorous growl at full throttle. And yes the Pacifica is wonderfully quiet, a challenge in a vehicle type that mimics a large drum; Chrysler stuffing every hollow space with sound insulation, sealing every aperture nice and tight, adding high-end engine and suspension mounts to minimize ugly audible and kinetic intrusions,
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Uconnect graphics have gone from cartoonish to sophisticated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and then ironing out any of the former imperfections electronically via active noise cancellation. The result is a luxury experience befitting a Lexus, or rather the Mercedes-sourced Chrysler LX-based 300 (LX being FCA’s full-size sedan platform architecture that should not to be confused with a Chrysler base trim level).

Full disclosure requires me to tell you I was driving a fully loaded Pacifica Limited model (the photos will give it away too), which means it’s made to a higher standard than the base LX, with gorgeous leather-like contrast stitched soft-touch dash detailing and door panel portions, plus other impressive premium metallic trims, piano black lacquers, and leathers. It didn’t boast fabric-wrapped pillars, an odd exclusion considering its premium target market, while the lower dash, including the glove box lid, and the door panels are rudimentary matte-finish hard textured
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
All of the centre stack switchgear is superbly crafted and tightly fitted. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
plastic. Still, most of the touch points near front occupants are extremely luxurious, and the no-cost Deep Mocha colour scheme was a visual delight.

The multi-adjustable driver’s seat with two-position memory was extremely comfortable too, and included three-way heating and cooling, while the seats in the rear were more comfortable than previous Stow ‘n Go perches, plus folded into the floor in a cleaner, more concise process; Chrysler even includes stylish mesh tabs to do so that look as if they’re right out of a designer clothing store. To access the third row just pull the lever on the seat’s backside and the entire mechanism tips up and forward without changing the backrest angle on iota, this allowing
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Chrysler’s rotating dial gear selector is smart efficient packaging, easy to use, and looks great too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
a child safety seat to be left in place while doing so – very clever. Third passengers will also rejoice in having their own separate glass sunroof, the massive panoramic sunroof covering the front two rows. Also of note, ventilation from front to rear is exceptionally good, while visibility won’t leave anyone feeling claustrophobic. And probably most important, regular sized adults should be quite comfortable in this rearmost position too. At least my five-foot-eight medium build frame was at ease, with plenty of room to spare.

Additionally, all of the interior switchgear is near perfect in execution. The myriad buttons on the steering wheel spokes are as good or better than those on premium brands, while the steering wheel they’re attached to is spectacular, with black outer leather, a brown leather inner centre section, and a satin silver ring around
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
French stitched, padded leatherette covers the dash, door uppers and armrests. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the middle. I can’t imagine how much it would’ve cost to create this thing, but it wouldn’t be out of place in a Bentley. Even the Pacifica Limited’s key fob is as nice as anything in the industry, while the left turn signal and right wiper control steering wheel stalks are easily the highest quality in the class. What’s more, there’s zero-tolerance spacing on the centre stack’s various buttons, these some of the tightest I’ve ever experienced with absolutely no sloppy wiggle from side to side and ideal damping. Chrysler’s aforementioned rotating gear selector and pushbutton electromechanical parking brake are nice premium touches too, while a handy console hovers overhead with a lined sunglasses holder, and again its plastics quality is above and beyond everything else in the minivan segment.

Likewise the gauges are stunning, with a blue background, bright backlit increments,
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The seats are wonderfully comfortable and easy on the eyes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and chrome metallic detailing, while the multi-info display at centre is large and fully featured. Larger still, the infotainment system over on the centre stack is filled with rich colours, deep contrast, and attractive graphics. Yes, Chrysler’s Uconnect interface has matured, this iteration much more sophisticated than the almost cartoon-like graphics of previous systems. It’s fully functional and very quick too, while the optional 360-degree parking camera helps augment the Pacifica’s inherently good all-round visibility, and the navigation system is highly legible and absolutely precise. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard with Uconnect 8.4, allowing seamless connectivity with most smartphones. Believe me, Chrysler held nothing back with the Pacifica’s top-line infotainment system or its cabin on the whole, which is why it earned one of WardsAuto’s 10 best interiors; some of the other winners including Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
This multi-use floor console is very handy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
note, when the Pacifica arrived in Canada last year it only came in upper trims (which probably hurt its sales), the base model then furnished in $43,995 Touring-L trim, with a mid-range version dubbed Touring-L Plus in between, and this Limited model topping it off. Chrysler has since seen the error of its ways (yes, thoughts of dramatically less expensive later model decontented Pacifica crossovers are dancing in my head right now) and a total of five Pacifica trims now exist, starting with previously noted LX, which is followed by the Touring and the three trims just mentioned.

As stated earlier, the LX starts at $37,995 and comes with standard halogen headlamps, incandescent taillights, 17-inch steel wheels and covers (yep, it’s pretty basic for nearly $40k), heatable powered side mirrors, proximity access via the driver’s
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Pacifica switches things around with the panoramic sunroof above the first two rows and smaller one over the rearmost seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
door and pushbutton ignition (ok, not that basic), powered front- and second-row windows, an electromechanical parking brake, sunvisors with illuminated vanity mirrors, overhead ambient surround lighting with LED courtesy lamps, a 3.5-inch multi-information display in the gauge cluster, tri-zone manual temperature control, Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming audio, FCA’s Uconnect 5.0 infotainment with a smallish five-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio, an aux jack (but no USB), dual 12-volt auxiliary power outlets, a floor tray and centre console, a tilt and telescoping multifunction urethane steering wheel, a six-way manual-adjustable driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, Stow ‘n Go second and third-row seats, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, all the usual active and passive safety features including dual front knee blocker airbags, an engine block heater, capless fuel filler, active grille shutters to improve
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Room for seven to eight adults in rarified luxury. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
high-speed aerodynamics, and more. As you can see there are very few upscale features in standard trim, so for the price it comes up a bit short.

In this respect I can’t help but compare the Canadian-spec Pacifica LX to its U.S. counterpart, because even after adjusting for our currencies’ exchange rate I ended up at $38,095 CAD, which is $100 more than our base price yet includes standard 17-inch alloys that really look nice, an eight-way powered driver’s seat with four-way powered lumbar support, and a standard backup camera, although you don’t get the standard proximity entry/pushbutton start system or the block heater. Feeling shortchanged? Just so you know, most competitors absorb a great deal of the exchange rate costs when pricing Canadian-spec models, which makes their Canadian pricing effectively less than what Americans pay, but not so in the Pacifica’s case.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The second-row captain’s chairs offer limo-like room and comfort. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
salt in the wound, the Pacifica is built right here in Canada at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario facility (Windsor Assembly), not in the U.S. where their higher dollar should make competitive vans selling in Canada pricier. In comparison, the Toyota Sienna is built in Princeton, Indiana, and the Honda Odyssey in Lincoln, Alabama, but even so if you convert their similarly equipped base models from USD to CAD you would end up paying about $6,000 more for the former and $8,600 more for the latter, that is if the Japanese brands didn’t give Canadians a break by eating the difference. Unfair trade practices? Maybe. Do Canadian consumers care? Hardly.

Of note, all Pacifica competitors are pretty basic, although you can’t get the Sienna with steel wheels. Likewise, the Toyota’s base display audio system is an inch larger while Honda’s is three inches larger, although Kia’s Sedona (which incidentally
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Rear seat entertainment is best in class by far. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
is built in Gwangmyeong, South Korea) is the same as the base Pacifica at five inches. I could attempt to compare every feature, although that would be a very long and arduous exercise. Suffice to say the base Pacifica’s value proposition is questionable, something that becomes less suspect as features get added on, only because the Pacifica becomes a much more opulently attired vehicle as prices rise, making it easier to reason away its excess.

A quick rundown of additional features making the $39,995 Touring nicer include some of the items that make the U.S. base version better, such as the same 17-inch alloys and powered driver’s seat, plus the upgrade also includes auto on/off headlights, a Stow ‘n Place roof rack, proximity access for all doors, dual power-sliding side doors, LED interior door handle lighting, a USB port (can you believe
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
These screens fold down when not in use, protecting them from cargo and kids gone wild. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
this isn’t standard?), rear reading/courtesy lamps, satellite radio, a powered liftgate, and a Stow ‘n Go Assist driver’s seat that automatically pulls the driver’s seat forward to make room for the second-row to fold below the floor.

Next is $43,995 Touring-L trim that adds the backup camera that’s standard in the U.S. model, plus some nice exterior trim upgrades, brighter quad-halogen headlamps, fog lamps, quicker reacting LED taillights, remote start, a universal garage door opener, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, heatable front seats, tri-zone auto HVAC, second- and third-row sunshades, rear seatback grocery bag hooks, an alarm, and an 180-amp alternator.

At $46,995, Touring-L Plus trims adds unique 17-inch alloys, a chromed roof rack, more
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
HDMI, USB, and headphone inputs are provided for each monitor. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
insulation, an acoustic glass windshield, a heated steering wheel, a seven-inch full-colour in-cluster TFT multi-info display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a full-length floor console, the Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, a 13-speaker 506-watt audio upgrade, a 12-way powered front-passenger seat with four-way powered lumbar adjustment and Stow ‘n Go Assist, upgraded perforated leather upholstery, rear ambient lighting, second-row powered windows with one-touch up and down (the first row windows come standard one-touch up/down), heated second-row seats, second- and third-row USB charging ports, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-path detection, and Park-Sense rear parking assist with active braking.

Lastly, the Limited comes with 18-inch alloys, a sportier Touring suspension, HID headlamps, LED fog lamps, LED DRLs, chrome-capped power-folding side mirrors with
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The second-row seats fold forward without tilting the seatback, allowing child safety seats to remain in place. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
integrated turn signals, courtesy lamps, reverse-tilt, and auto-dimming on the driver’s side, plus driver’s memory for the mirrors, seat and radio presets, footwell courtesy lamps and illuminated map pockets, front door searchlights, hands-free dual power sliding doors and powered liftgate, a power-folding third-row seat that also allows powered recline for the rearmost passengers, a soft-touch instrument panel with a premium bezel, a two-tone luxury steering wheel with a chrome accent ring, navigation with detailed mapping, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, two-way front seat ventilation, a Super Console with illuminated front cupholders, a tri-pane panoramic sunroof, and an integrated Stow ‘n Vac vacuum that allows for quick clean up no matter where you are. All I can say is, go for the fully loaded version if finances allow, as the Pacifica Limited is one helluvalotta van. And I haven’t even started talking driving dynamics.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Now shortage of space in back, making the Pacifica a family hauler that should keep everyone happy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
look and you’ll know how well it drives. OK, that’s not always a sure bet (remember the original Fiero?), but Chrysler backs up the Pacifica’s slippery shape with fleet feet. Along with an aerodynamic nose filled with chrome trim and LED lighting elements harmoniously crisscrossing all over each other, is an elegantly arcing profile. Highlights include a beautifully shaped shoulder line begins at the outer edge of its fog lamp bezels and wraps around the front half of each wheel cutout before traveling under the greenhouse and then canting upwards to follow the outline of the rear quarter windows and D-pillars, the subtler beltline stretching from the top edge of the front wheel, through each door handle and the gas cap before gracefully bending downward around the rear wheel cutout into the rear quarter panel.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Third-row passengers get their own USB port as well as powered reclining seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
rear design might be the most interesting, where the upper portion of its hatch incorporates both darkened window glass and a near identical shade of black plastic that wraps around the two taillight assemblies, making them seem like one large seamless piece of glass. Even more than these styling details, it’s the van’s long, wide, low stance that makes it look fast, and of course it doesn’t hurt that an optional set of machine-finished twinned Y-shaped five-spoke 20-inch alloys on 245/50 all-seasons were added to each corner.

Chrysler combines that big contact patch with the Limited’s standard sport-tuned Touring suspension and the Pacifica’s new Compact U.S. Wide platform architecture that’s comprised of a rigid framework formed from 84-percent high-strength
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The third row powers down into its Stow ‘n Go recess, or back up as easily as can be. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
steel and four-percent aluminum, plus front MacPherson struts and an independent multilink rear suspension, the latter featuring an isolated cradle designed to add strength, stiffness and improve driving dynamics. We need to remember this platform also serves Fiat and Alfa Romeo vehicles, both Italian brands renowned for high-speed handling, and you can really feel the extra effort spent to keep the undercarriage light and tight when coursing the Pacifica through fast-paced corners. It really handles well. In fact, I’d be willing to bet it’s the best performer in its class. That’s saying a lot with both the Sienna SE and Odyssey Touring in the same category, but this van’s got soul. Truly, there’s an unrivaled feeling of lightness and tossable agility to the Pacifica the others don’t have, enhanced by highly responsive steering that feels more connected than the others.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The nicely finished cargo compartment offers many different seating and luggage alternatives. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
All the while the Pacifica delivers the compliant ride and composed demeanor Chrysler vans have long been known for, combined with the ultra-quiet cabin noted before.

You can come about those upgraded 20-inch alloys in two ways. The cheapest is a no-cost eight-passenger and 20-inch wheel combo that swaps out the second-row captain’s chairs for a long bench, or you can simply add the larger rims and rubber to the existing van for $795, as was done with my tester. A glance at the hind end of my loaner will also reveal its $700 trailer tow package, while my Pacifica also included the optional $1,995 Advanced SafetyTec Group complete with auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability, a 360-degree parking camera, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist,
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Most families will leave the third row folded flat more often than not, allowing for quick loading. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Park-Sense front and rear parking sensors with stopping capability, and parallel and perpendicular self-parking assistance with auto stopping, this package making the Pacifica the only minivan to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating (the Sedona is the only other van to get IIHS honours, albeit a lesser Top Safety Pick rating).

Additional options included the $3,495 Uconnect Theatre & Sound Group that included an absolutely superb sounding 20-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system featuring a 760-watt amplifier, dual 10-inch flip-up touchscreens on the backside of the front seats that were fed by a Blu-Ray/DVD player, separate panels featuring HDMI, USB, and headphone inputs, a 115-volt household-style auxiliary power
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The second row captain’s chairs fold into these compartments, although they’re also great for storage when packing for a road trip. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
outlet, three-channel video remote control, three-channel wireless headphones, and a 220-amp alternator to back it all up (alternatively you can get the video upgrade without the enhanced sound for $2,495); all of which pushed the price of my tester up to $58,480 before adding freight and fees. And that wasn’t loaded.

If you also add the $400 Mopar wireless charging pad; $175 KeySense programmable key fob; $230 Mopar Emergency Kit Group, which includes a first aid kit, reflective triangle and tool kit; the $895 Mopar Interior Protection Package that adds bright doorsills, all-weather floor mats, all-weather cargo mats, a cargo area liner, and a rear Stow ‘n Go storage bin; $195 Mopar front and rear splash guards; $225 for its priciest exterior paint; and finally if you replace the integrated Stow ‘n Vac vacuum with an inflatable spare tire for $295 (but who would want to?), you’ll be paying a grand total of $60,895 before freight.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
You’d never know there was a seat folded up below, Chrysler’s second-row Stow ‘n Go seats the best reason to buy into the brand. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
this forced me to go online to build the Kia, Toyota and Honda, so I added as many factory features as possible (which to be fair are slightly fewer), and the most I could pay after also adding every reasonable accessory was $48,429 for the Sedona, $49,935 for the Sienna, and $54,205 for the Odyssey, pre-freight. Is a fully loaded Pacifica really worth $12,466 more than an optioned out Sedona, $10,960 more than a jam-packed Sienna, or $6,690 more than a completely stuffed Odyssey? That’s a question you’ll need to decide if still questioning which van to buy, or you could ask your Canadian peers who purchased 5,767 Dodge Grand Caravans in the last two months alone, 1,979 Siennas over the same period, 1,091 Odysseys, and just 696 Pacificas. And let’s be clear, this is the Pacifica’s honeymoon when its sales should be strongest. At least it’s outselling the Sedona, which merely found 446 buyers over the same two months, but (no offence to the Korean competitor) outpacing Kia on the sales charts isn’t exactly a bragging right.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
If you have something long to pick up on the way home from school, place the kids down one side and cargo down the other. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
wrap it up here wouldn’t be fair, however, as the pricier full-load Pacifica Limited delivers a lot more premium kit than any of its competitors, so you might just be willing to spend more after a little investigation. Of course, that’s what I’m here for, so here’s some insight:

The top-line Sienna has an eight-speed automatic, 18-inch rims instead of 20s (the SE has 19s, however), power-folding side mirrors just like the Pacifica Limited, 7.0-inch infotainment rather than 8.4, 10-speaker JBL audio in place of the 20-speaker H/K system, one 16.4-inch widescreen video display instead of two separate monitors, only a four-way front passenger powered seat instead of 12, no cooled front seats and no heatable rear seats (although its lounge chairs with extendable ottomans are nice), both regular and panoramic sunroofs, although not as large and switched around with the small one up front (to make way for a hanging video screen), no powered third row seats, no vacuum, and nowhere near the level of active safety equipment.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Fully exposed, the beautiful Pacifica Limited transforms into a practical workhorse. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
top-line Odyssey has a six-speed auto (yawn), 18-inch alloys instead of 20s (double yawn), doesn’t include power-folding mirrors, has two infotainment displays instead of one (but neither as good as the Pacifica’s), no-name audio albeit 650 watts of it, only four-way front passenger power, no front seat coolers or rear heaters, no panoramic sunroof at all (just a regular one up front), 16.2-inch widescreen rear entertainment, no powered third row, and Honda invented the minivan vacuum, plus like Toyota the Odyssey only has minimal active safety gear despite Honda Sensing being available on many other models (strange considering the Odyssey was recently updated and family buyers are the most safety conscious buyers).

The totally loaded Sedona has an old-school six-speed auto, one-inch smaller alloys
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Few mainstream V6 engines offer smoother operation with as sonorous a song, while the 9-speed auto is class leading. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
at 19 inches, power-folding mirrors, almost nearly as large an infotainment display at 8.0 inches, includes Infinity sound albeit only eight speakers, doesn’t have as much powered passenger adjustability (although eight-way instead of the Japanese vans’ four), houses two sunroofs overhead although the rear one isn’t anywhere near as large as the Pacifica’s panoramic one, features cooled front and heated second-row seats, only has a manual third row, has no vacuum, boasts a slew of active safety features as well as auto high beams and adaptive cruise control, and one ups all competitors with dynamic cornering headlights; and lastly, as good as the Sedona and both Japanese vans are, they’re just not quite as nicely finished inside as the Pacifica.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The Pacifica’s low roofline means it’s not quite as commodious as its peers in most measurements. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
one last criterion left unanswered, however. How does the Pacifica stack up to these rivals when it comes to available cargo space? With 915 litres (32.3 cubic feet) behind its third row the Pacifica offers 69 additional litres (2.4 cubic feet) of volume than the Odyssey albeit 45 litres (1.6 cubic feet) less than the Sedona, and it’s 192 litres (6.8 cubic feet) shy of the Sienna; at 2,478 litres (87.5 cubic feet) behind its second row the Pacifica whollops the Sedona by 258 litres (9.1 cubic feet) and the Sienna by 12 litres (0.4 cubic feet), but it’s 158 litres (5.6 cubic feet) short of the Odyssey; and finally at 3,979 litres (140.5 cubic feet) of total available loading space the Pacifica is 269 litres (9.5 cubic feet) down on the Sienna, 226 litres (8.0 cubic feet) off the Odyssey, and 43 litres (1.5 cubic feet) from matching the Sedona’s max volume, but remember you have to struggle to remove these competitors’ cumbersome second-row seats to achieve their maximums, and I don’t know about you but that’s something I’m not willing to endure.

In the end, the Pacifica is by far my favourite minivan, with a great outward design, a superbly crafted interior, an amazing allotment of advanced features, the
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
It’s officially cool to drive a minivan again, thanks to Chrysler’s new 2017 Pacifica Limited. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
best safety in its class, superb driving dynamics, and the most versatility available with any vehicle from any manufacturer (except Dodge and its Grand Caravan, or Jeep if we’re talking 4WD). If you’re trading down from a Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, Jaguar or the like (hey, I traded my ’90 5 Series in on a ’96 Caravan, so it happens), what’s another five figures going to matter in your quest to get the best? But if you’re an average Canadian that lives on a tight budget and has to borrow in order to buy, that extra coin matters. This reality is reflected in the sales numbers above, although as noted earlier, more so in lesser trims. Buy a Pacifica Limited and it delivers more than a Honda Odyssey for less money, and then you can always go all the way by creating a seven- or eight-passenger luxury minivan experience that has no equal.

As far as sales success goes, however, the aforementioned numbers aren’t likely to
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
The wide stance and beefy tire patches say it all, a fully loaded Pacifica is in an entirely different minivan class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
grow until Chrysler starts selling the Pacifica’s more basic trims for less than their U.S. version (after monetary conversion), just like Toyota, Honda and Kia do today. The auto industry is complicated, with success having as much and possibly more to do with adjusting for jurisdictional issues than merely building a great vehicle, but unfortunately if you don’t make such adjustments you lose.

All in all Chrysler has made an absolutely brilliant minivan. Now all it needs to do is price it more competitively for entry- to mid-level buyers and success should follow. It might seem like an unfair request, considering how much better the Pacifica is than its competitors in most respects, but this is the minivan sector and it appears Chrysler has priced it higher than most Canadian families are willing to go. This isn’t new territory for the brand or model, the Pacifica SUV having gone down this bumpy road before, so there’s no time like the present for Chrysler’s new Italian/Canadian management to learn from the American brand’s storied past.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)