Is the Chrysler Pacifica Still the Minivan to Beat?
A lot has happened since my last update. A refreshed Chrysler Pacifica 2021 has been revealed with a more threatening face and new and updated features. My wife and I are now expecting our second child. Oh, and the world has closed thanks to a global health crisis. None of these things are to blame for the delay in this 2018 Pacifica comprehensive review that you are reading in 2020. I have learned in my nearly two years of parenting that it is harder to stay current things when you have a child. As the Steve Miller Band sang, “Time continues to slide, to slide, to slide …”
Does this mean that this report is not relevant? Quite the contrary, I would say. The overtime gave me additional context to consider when evaluating the Pacifica pre-update. As the owner of the old model, would I feel excluded from having the latest and the best version? Would I regret not having waited for the (finally) new Toyota Sienna 2021? Will parents who have just entered the minivan market leave a lot on the table with a lightly used Pacifica instead of a brand new model? Let’s explore these topics and more.
2018 Chrysler Pacifica vs 2021 Chrysler Pacifica: What’s the difference?
For the 2021 model year, the Chrysler Pacifica gets a more aggressive look, with a large mesh grille and headlights redesigned and tilted angrily at the front and center. This facelift aims to distance the Pacifica from the image of testosterone which is inexorably linked to the minivan genre and closer to a more fashionable SUV look. Personally, I am not a fan. Pacifica pre-refresh has a streamlined elegance, which, in my opinion, has a wider appeal. It’s a minivan, and it owns it – and once you accept it for what it is, it’s a beautiful vehicle. With this new one, I see the same van wearing a luchador mask.
What I would miss by not getting the Pacifica 2021 is the all-wheel drive option (although FCA has just announced a special AWD launch edition for the 2020 model). All-wheel drive should add about $ 1,500 to the price of a Pacifica and is not at the expense of the best ride on the van, its Stow ‘N Go seat. Adding all-wheel drive should give the new Pacifica more traction (play of words) in snowy regions. The plug-in hybrid and the lower-priced Chrysler Voyager, however, remain front-wheel drive only. Another handy upgrade is the 10.1-inch touchscreen available with sharper resolution and FCA’s latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system. The best models also benefit from a roof-mounted FamCam rear passenger monitor, FCA’s response to Honda’s CabinWatch function.
Chrysler Pacifica vs. Minivan Competition
We’ve put just under 20,000 miles on the long-term Chrysler Pacifica in the 12 months it has custody, and in the meantime, employees have used it to transport their families, get in and out of their homes , take car-to-car photos in the back, and more. In almost every situation, the Pacifica was more than up to the task. I cannot overstate the usefulness of the Stow ‘N Go seats. In five minutes or less, you can transform the interior of the Pacifica from a seven-passenger transporter to a cavernous two-seat van. Or if you just need to lose one, two or three seats, you can do that too. You have options, and that’s what made Pacifica the choice of choice for most jobs that didn’t require a pickup bed.
The folding seats remain an exclusive feature of the FCA, which gives the Pacifica a huge advantage over its competitors. You can’t slide them forward like the seats on other minivans, but the seats fold forward to access the third row, and the space between the captain’s chairs provides plenty of space children to access the third row. It’s a compromise that I’m ready to make for the extra versatility that Stow ‘N Go brings to the table.
Subjectively, the Pacifica drives better than any other van on the market. We weren’t driving the new Sienna at the time of writing, but when driving the Honda Odyssey back to back, the Pacifica’s handling, handling and steering precision shine. Where the Pacifica loses ground against the Odyssey is in the transmission department – the FCA’s nine-speed automatic transmission still lacks refinement and can be clumsy with its gear changes. It will be interesting to see how the revised V-6 Pacifica 2021 compares to the new Sienna with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain and CVT, especially now that the Pacifica also offers all-wheel drive. Toyota estimates that the Sienna 2021 will reach 33 mpg combined, which would be 3 mpg better than the Pacifica plug-in hybrid. The standard Pacifica with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, on the other hand, is rated at 22 mpg combined, although throughout our test we averaged 19.4 mpg, just beating the EPA (and Real MPG) city rating of 19 mpg.
What does the Chrysler Pacifica ownership experience look like?
The Chrysler Pacifica was very easy to live with on a daily basis. Our Limited model was a particularly comfortable commuter with its adaptive cruise control stop-and-go, its elegant Uconnect system with Apple CarPlay and its cooled leather seats. Driving on the highway was smooth and quiet with standard 18-inch wheels, although your experience may vary if you opt for the 1920s.
As I have reported at length in these updates, our long-term Pacifica has been plagued by an intermittent freeze issue that has landed in the store for a solid month. The dealer provided me with a rental for the duration of the repair, but it’s been a long time since a car has been out of service. The worst part is that the initial visit did not solve the problem any more than that which followed. The FCA company had to call on its own team to finally solve the problem. I never got a full explanation, but the main cause was a software flaw in the powertrain control module, which was fixed with a reflash.
In addition to this major hiccup, our long term suffered a premature failure of the anti-roll bar link, which caused a disconcerting impact sound from the front wheel arch. The radiator also stopped working before the odometer reached the 10,000 mile mark. If there is an advantage, it is that all of the above issues were covered by the warranty, including the rental, which would have cost $ 1000 by itself. For regular maintenance, the two trips to the dealership for $ 276.88. We don’t put a lot of minivans through our long-term tests, so our most recent direct comparison is a 2016 Kia Sedona, which cost $ 364.30 over four service visits. Because many minivan buyers are also considering three-row SUVs, our Subaru Ascent cost us $ 0 to maintain but incurred more than $ 1,700 in other expenses, our 2018 Volkswagen Atlas cost us $ 167.69 , our 2018 Dodge Durango saw only $ 77.90 in service fees, and our 2017 Mazda CX-9 cost $ 322.35 in service fees.
Should you buy a Chrysler Pacifica?
I have never been more in conflict with a long-term vehicle than with the Pacifica. On the one hand, it’s a pleasure to drive and offers so much utility – and in the Limited version, a lot of luxury, to start. But on the other hand, this particular example has been in and out of the store more than my two previous long-termers (a Kia Stinger and Mini Clubman S) combined. The dealer’s experience also left something to be desired. While I can say that the service advisers and customer service representatives were doing their best, there was always a feeling of underlying chaos behind the scenes. This was supported by constantly delayed, lost or broken parts during transport and misplaced or never registered repair orders to begin with. Maybe the problem is with the FCA parts supply infrastructure, maybe it’s just after-sales service from that particular dealer, or maybe a little bit of both, but I don’t have never been happy to be there, especially as often as I had to be.
That said, when the Pacifica was running, I loved every minute of it behind the wheel. I thought it would end up being boring – especially coming out of a Kia Stinger – but it never was. Instead of feeling like an X-wing pilot, I was the captain of the Millennium Falcon with a princess shotgun and a little Wookiee in the back who steered the laser turret, and I don’t consider that a downgrade . Hopefully the main flaws have been fixed with the 2021 model. If it is, then the Pacifica will be quite difficult to beat.
Learn more about our long-term 2018 Chrysler Pacifica:
|LIFETIME||12 months / 19,897 mi|
|STARTING PRICE||$ 45,440|
|OPTIONS||Uconnect Theater ($ 1995: record video screens, HDMI ports, DVD player, wireless headphones), preferred group ($ 995: 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, parking assistance, rain sensing wipers )|
|TESTED PRICE||$ 48,430|
|AVG ECON / CO2||19.4 mpg / 1.00 lb / mi|
|PROBLEM AREAS||Stop / start system|
|MAINTENANCE COST||$ 276.88 (2- oil change, inspection; air filter, cabin filter|
|NORMAL WEAR COST||$ 0|
|RESIDUAL VALUE OVER 3 YEARS *||$ 28,700|
|REMEMBER||Power steering may fail due to electrical problem|
|* IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles after 3 years|
|2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited|
|TRANSMISSION LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD|
|TYPE OF ENGINE||60 degree V-6, block / alum heads|
|VALVE TRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves / cyl|
|TRAVEL||220.0 ft3 / 3605 cm3|
|COMPRESSION RATIO||11.3: 1|
|POWER (SAE NET)||287 hp @ 6,400 rpm|
|COUPLE (SAE NET)||262 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|RED LINE||6400 rpm|
|POWER WEIGHT||16.0 lb / hp|
|AXLE / FINAL TRANSMISSION REPORT||3.25: 1 / 1.56: 1|
|SUSPENSION, BEFORE; BACK||Cylinders, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|MANAGEMENT RATIO||16.2: 1|
|LATCHES TO LATCHES||3.1|
|BRAKES, F; R||13.0 inch ventilated disc; 13 inch disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||7.5 x 18 in cast aluminum|
|TIRES||235 / 60R18 103H (M + S) Michelin Premier A / S|
|TRACK, F / R||68.3 / 68.3 inch|
|Length x Width x Height||203.8 x 79.6 x 69.9 inches|
|ROTATING CIRCLE||39.7 ft|
|EDGE WEIGHT||4,580 lb|
|DIST WEIGHT, F / R||56/44%|
|NUMBER OF PLACES||7|
|LIVING ROOM, F / M / R||38.4 / 38.0 / 38.7 inch|
|LEGROOM, F / M / R||41.1 / 39.0 / 36.5 inch|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F / M / R||63.8 / 63.0 / 61.2 inch|
|LOADING VOLUME BEH F / M / R||140.5 / 87.5 / 32.3 cu.ft.|
|ACCELERATION AT MPH|
|PASSAGE, 45-65 MPH||3.8|
|QUARTER OF MILE||15.6 s at 89.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||119 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.82 g (average)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.4 s at 0.63 g (average)|
|REVS TOP-GEAR @ 60 MPH||1300 rpm|
|STARTING PRICE||$ 45,440|
|TESTED PRICE||$ 48,430|
|STABILITY / TRACTION CONTROL||Yes Yes|
|AIRBAGS||8: double front, front side, curtain f / m / r, front knee|
|BASIC GUARANTEE||3 years / 36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN GUARANTEE||5 years / 60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 years / 100,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||19.0 gal|
|REAL MPG, CITY / HWY / COMB||19.0 / 28.8 / 22.4 mpg|
|EPA CITY / HWY / COMB ECON||19/28/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / HIGHWAY||177/120 kW-h / 100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.87 lb / mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Regular lead free|