First Drive Review 2017 Chrysler Pacifica: Please sign my yearbook

Pacifica

(FCA)

We all know “That Guy” or “That Girl”. The one person who hangs on to their glory days in high school. They were the belle of the ball, the most popular, the quarterback, signed everyone’s yearbook. The ensuing years however have not been kind.  They show up to the reunion having tried to squeeze back into the size 4 they once could, even though they are now a size 8 and can’t, or with their hair plugs visible.

You feel somewhat sad for “That Guy” or “That Girl”. Instead of moving on, they are still stuck in the days when it was their world, we just lived in it.

I graduated high school in 1980. Four years later Dodge introduced the minivan. It was a new class of vehicle, a van that could do more that haul stuff; it was comfortable, pretty stylish for its time, and soon was the chariot of choice for suburban families everywhere.

I admit to having one.  A 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. That 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. The minivan had started to become passé. SUV’s were starting to take over. The minivan was becoming a negative symbol, especially for men.  It meant that your man card had been turned in.  You were a dad now, along with the responsibilities that come with it.  We rebelled however. Took back our manhood. An SUV could still do all the stuff the minivan did, but they looked more manly; yes we are dads, we just don’t have to look like it.

In these modern times the minivan, at least as we knew it, is on a downhill slide. Chrysler held on until model year 2016 when the last of its minivans, the Grand Caravan and the Town & Country were put out to pasture.

Replacing them is a brand new model, the Pacifica.  Actually, the Pacifica isn’t new.  There was a Pacifica from 2003-2008.  It was a high end crossover, and looked more like a chubby station wagon. Given the Chrysler reliability at the time, and the relatively high cost, that first Pacifica never sold more than 92,000 units in a single year.  The final year of the Pacifica, 2008, there were less than 10,000 sold. Chrysler filed for bankruptcy the following year, and it wasn’t long before Fiat cam a’courtin.

Now the new FCA is bringing back the Pacifica nameplate.  This go round FCA isn’t hiding the fact that this is still a minivan, redesigned, but still a minivan.  It’s an all new platform, but still a minivan.

But is it just a size 4 trying to fit into a size 8? Is it still clinging on to its days of old?

The Chrysler Pacifica comes in five trim levels: LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus and Limited.  There’s even a Pacifica Hybrid that will be sold with Touring and Limited Platinum trims later this year.

The base LX has keyless ignition and entry, seven-passenger seating, and folding/collapsible second-row seats (“Stow ‘n Go”), an eight-way power driver seat, three-zone climate control, and LED daytime running lights atop 17-inch alloy wheels. There’s also a rearview camera, a 5-inch center touchscreen display with Uconnect Access, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system.

Touring adds power sliding rear doors and satellite radio. The Touring-L jazzes up the exterior trim, and adds rear-cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, LED taillights, rear parking sensors, a security alarm, automatic three-zone climate control, leather seating with heated front seats, some more storage and a power liftgate.

Pacifica

(FCA)

The Touring-L Plus gives you an eight-way power passenger seat, fancier interior lighting, sunshades for the back rows, an upgraded driver information display, a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen, and a 13-speaker sound system and a second-row rear entertainment system with dual 10-inch touchscreens, Blu-ray player and additional USB and HDMI inputs.

That entertainment system is optional on the top of the line Limited, but in addition to everything else found on the Touring, you do get 18-inch wheels, a hands-free liftgate and sliding door function along with two sunroofs, xenon headlights, LED foglights, ventilated front seats, navigation, power folding third row seats and upgraded leather. There is also a curious feature found nowhere else, a integrated vacuum cleaner, either a brilliant add on or silly depending on your view.

Many of the features on the upper trims can be added to the lower models. Other options include 20-inch wheels, a center, removable, second row seat, a towing package and a 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

My tester for a recent week was the Limited with optional $1995 Customer Preferred Package with front and rear park assist, a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, automatic wipers, auto high beams, forward full speed collision, and lane departure warning, and the parallel and perpendicular park assist.

Under the hood the Pacifica comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The horses are sent to the front wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.  The transmission is controlled via the now familiar shift dial on the dash.

At first glance at the exterior, the Pacifica looks like, well a minivan. A little sleeker perhaps, but it is still a minivan. Inside the exterior looks like what it is, at least in my opinion, and that’s an updated version of the Town & Country the Pacifica replaces. That’s not a bad thing, I generally liked the T&C and the interior of that now defunct model.

The biggest difference between those older minivans and this new Pacifica is on the road. The 287 horses will get up and go. Yes like the T&C the interior is comfortable, the view is good and the ride smooth, but the power to the road in the Pacifica is noticeable, and nice.

The biggest question is will this new incarnation of the Pacifica sell? There is little doubt that the reliability issues that plagued the first version are gone. Today’s cars are much better than in years past, the only thing that separates today’s models is character.  And at least in my opinion, the Pacifica falls a bit short on that. For as nice as it is, as was its Town and Country predecessor, the fact remains that other then the pepped up drive on the road, this is still a minivan.  It’s hair plugs are visible, and it will never fit into a size 4 again.

Perhaps the days of the minivan, like high school, are behind us.  Last year just over a half a million minivans were sold; in 2000 when the minivan decline began, 1.37 million were put into driveways. So far this year 18,000 units of the new Pacifica have been sold, 7000 in July. Whether that figure will improve and be enough to sustain the model, remains to be seen. It may be though that no matter how good the Pacifica is, and make no mistake, it is good, it may not even be around long enough for the next reunion.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
MSRP: $42,495
MSRP (as tested):  $45,485
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6 287 hp 287 @ 6400 rpm, 262 lb-ft torque @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 18 city, 28 highway, 22 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 23 mpg

Exterior Dimensions (In)
Wheelbase: 121.6
Length, Overall: 203.6
Width, Max w/o mirrors: 79.6
Height, Overall: 69.9
Track Width, Front: 68.3
Track Width, Rear: 68.3
Min Ground Clearance: 5.1

Interior Dimensions (In)
Passenger Capacity: 7 (p)
Passenger Volume: 165
Front Head Room: 38.4
Front Leg Room: 41.1
Front Shoulder Room: 63.8
Front Hip Room: 59
Second Head Room: 38.4
Second Leg Room: 39
Second Shoulder Room: 63
Second Hip Room: 64.8
Third Head Room: 38.7
Third Leg Room: 36.5
Third Shoulder Room: 61.2
Third Hip Room: 49.6

Cargo Box Width @ Wheelhousings: 48.8
Cargo Box (Area) Height: 47.8
Cargo Volume to Seat 1: 140.5
Cargo Volume to Seat 2: 87.5
Cargo Volume to Seat 3: 32.3

Warranty
Basic:3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain:5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion:5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/100,000 Miles
The full specs can be found here (PDF)

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. He served in support of Operation Just Cause, Desert Shield/Storm and ended his military career in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology.

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