Chrysler is getting back into the minivan game with their new 2017 Pacifica and Consumer Reports got their hands one for testing.
Sure their last van in 2014 performed poorly in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHHS) small overlap test but the new Pacifica should perform better now that Chrysler has reinforced both the structure and vehicle floor with more high-strength steel.
Encompassed in this beefier frame are comfortable seats in seven or eight seat configurations with Chryslerís new Stow 'n Go system available for the second row seats. No longer will you need to wrestle the second row down/forward. With a tug on the seat strap, the second row will pitch forward smoothly allowing for easy access to the third row or increased storage space. Unfortunately, the hybrid model doesnít have the folding seats so youíll have to decide what features are more important to you.
Also updated is the front dash with a new center console and infotainment system. If you decide to go with the higher trim levels, that dash and those seats will be covered in stitched leather. Other optional features include an affordable vacuum system, sun roof spanning the length of the van, U-connect theater dual touchscreen system, etc.
So how does it drive?
According to the review, the standard 3.6-liter V6 engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission thatís been improved over time for better shift response and smoothness. All controlled by a dial shifter. As for the cabin noise, minivans generally arenít the best at insulating against exterior noise but the Pacifica is quiet on the road thanks to its standard active noise cancellation.
Fuel economy should also see a bit of improvement with 250 pound weight reduction and if this is one of your main concerns when purchasing a minivan, maybe the claimed 30 miles pure electric range of the hybrid would be more to your taste.
Overall, the Pacifica looks to be a homerun in the minivan segment.