The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is exactly as advertised, a luxurious and modern minivan with front buckets as comfy as Barcaloungers, the most accessible and sensible infotainment/vehicle systems interface in the business and long-distance ride manners that cry out for a road trip.
But really, $62,340 as tested? Six Large-plus for a family hauler with front-wheel drive and sliding doors on the side which – no matter how lovingly the hilarious Jim Gaffigan embraces them – are minivan doors lacking SUV sex appeal?
I want to love the Pacifica. I really do. And if it were $45,000 or so, I would. But it’s not.
The base price for the Limited version is $52,995. That for a van loaded with power everything (doors, windows, liftgate, seats and more), hands-free communication, a panoramic sunroof as big as a Saskatchewan sky, airbags everywhere, heated and ventilated seats, Sirius satellite radio, parking assist, stability control, Nappa leather upholstery…
Okay, most of us could love and value all this. And most would cheer the way Chrysler’s designers have arranged everything in the cabin. The instrument cluster is a vision of design genius, with all the info you need lit up right in front of you, beautifully. The colour touchscreen at the top of the centre console is within easy reach and right in the driver’s eyeline, so it’s not distracting.
And there’s room in this van. Loads and loads and loads of it — front, middle and back. Vancouver and Toronto developers are selling downtown apartments smaller than this. There are storage bins all over, USB ports front/middle/rear, and even a Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum.
Best of all, all the gizmos and features are self-explanatory. You won’t need to crack the owner’s manual to program the navigation system, sync your phone or dial up your tunes and talk shows. They all play through the 13 Alpine speakers that are crystal clear. Safety electronics? The rear camera lines you perfectly, and blind-spot monitoring alerts you to things you might not ever see.
So just about everything is there in this $53,000 minivan. But not quite. If you want the theater package with Blue Ray, 20 Harmon/Kardon speakers, seatback video screens, headphones and the rest, that’ll cost you $3,495.
The really, really fancy safety package is another $1,995, and it gives you adaptive cruise, a Surround View Camera, lane departure warning and more. And you can add… Well, you can add nearly 10 Large to the Limited model if you really want the best of everything.
Now in fairness, Chrysler does offer a much more basic starter model at $37,995. But even that is a long way from the $20,000-something Dodge minivans to which we’ve grown accustomed.
Look, Chrysler’s designers and engineers have done themselves proud here. Sure, I’d like the throttle tip-in to be less aggressive because it’s far too easy to spin the front wheels on take-off. And fuel economy is only so-so at 10.9 litres/100 km combined. That problem is addressed with the hybrid Pacifica.
The really big issue, however, is that the Pacifica is a minivan. Minivans remain mom-mobiles for Baby Booomers, who surely are the ones most likely to afford a $62,000 minivan. And that’s a tough sell for Chrysler, though I applaud everyone there for trying.
2017 CHRYSLER PACIFICA LILMITED
Base price: $52,995. As tested: $62,340.
Engine: 3.6-litre V-6 (287 hp/262 pound-feet of torque).
Transmission: nine-speed automatic.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.9 city/8.4 using regular fuel.
Comparables: Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Dodge Grand Caravan.