It’s not that anything classified as such is a bad thing. In fact, the few minivans that survived the SUV apocalypse aren’t bad vehicles, they’re just not for me. Quick backstory, when I was a youth, I traded a Camaro, my first ever new car purchase, just to buy a minivan, a Dodge “Grand” Caravan. My wife, who was (and to me still is) very hot talked me into it, even after I pointed out that the car seat for our newly born daughter could fit in the backseat of the Camaro…well mostly.
That 1986 Caravan that hauled my young kids, copious amount of groceries from the warehouse club, home improvement project materials, and even towed a racecar halfway across the country. The latter ultimately killed the Caravan (I’ll take “transmission cooler” for $500 Alex). But that’s okay. It was time to shed the old Caravan anyway. Any by that time the minivan had started to become passé as SUV’s were starting to take over.
Many have fallen by the wayside (minivans I mean, along with my racing career it seems) since then. Perhaps the best among those few that did survive is the Chrysler Pacifica. In the last few years Chrysler has sent me several for a week. I wasn’t a very happy camper during those weeks, but I got it. For some the minivan is a great way to haul the Brady Bunch around in comfort and style. The first time I had a week with the Pacifica was in 2016 when they sent me a 2017 model which marked the revival of the minivan that had been off the market since 2008. Last year it was a week with the 2019 hybrid version. Saving Mother Earth while driving a minivan? Sure, I’m all about that…
Anyway, I won’t wax too poetically about the Pacifica, it’s a good thing, and if you are looking for such a thing, it could just be your thing.
But I digress.
Chrysler recently sent me a 2020 Pacifica for a week. Another hybrid. It looked just like the 2019 I had a few months ago. So then, what to write? I mean I could rehash everything I wrote about the 2019. Things like it seats seven passengers and is available in three well-equipped trim levels: Touring Plus, Touring L and Limited. Or that the 3.6-liter V6 EHybrid (Atkinson Cycle) will belt out a total estimated 260 horses, of that on a full battery you can run on electrical power for up to 32 miles? I could add that for 2020 the hybrid still doesn’t get the second-row Stow ‘n Go seats (the hybrid battery fits in their storage compartment), but the fixed captain’s chairs in their place actually seem more comfortable so that’s not a big loss?
And finally, for 2020 I could mention that there is a new Red S Appearance package, which is offered on the Limited trim versions of the gas-powered and hybrid models. My tester for the week had this new package and it features a special interior, 20-inch wheels (19s on the hybrid), Advanced SafetyTec driver-assistance technologies, a 20-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system with a Uconnect theater setup, eight-passenger seating, and tow package (the hybrid also gets a tri-pane panoramic sunroof).
Yes, I could write all that, but why? So, I’ve decided to highlight the fact that the 2020 Pacifica is the last of this generation and highlight the changes that are coming for the 2021 model.
Chrysler says that for the makeover for 2021 there is new exterior styling meant to give the Pacifica less of a minivan look and more live that of an SUV. This includes the grille, which is a bit larger and new exterior lighting elements along with a new rear liftgate, and wheel designs that have all been updated. Comparing the 2021 model with the 2020 side by side I don’t see any big differences, but Chrysler says, so…
There is also all-wheel drive available, though it is also available in some of the late 2020 models. Also, for 2021 the Touring L Plus model has been discontinued, and a new Pinnacle trim jumps above the Limited to become the Pacifica’s top-spec model. The overall length goes from 203.8 to 204.3 inches, but the overall interior stays the same.
Inside the Pacifica gains a new 10.1-inch infotainment display with the latest Uconnect 5 interface; there’s Amazon Alexa integration, a customizable home screen, an available wireless connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an interior camera system to help keep tabs on kiddos in the back seats, and up to 12 different USB ports for charging devices. Driver-assistance features have been added as standard, including automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control, among others.
At the end of the day then, if you are in the market and want to put a minivan in your driveway you could wait for a 2021 model, or grab a 2020, or even a 2019. All would make nice choices. I drove my 2020 hybrid for a week, and it was a very nice way to get around, but at the end of the day I long for the days when I had my Camaro; and of course, my youth.
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