Chrysler, the brand that invented the minivan, is looking to remake the iconic family-hauler for 2017 with the all-new Pacifica. Although the exterior looks like a roundier version of the outgoing Town & Country minivan, underneath it boasts a new platform, an optional hybrid powertrain as well as 40 new minivan ‘firsts’ — according to Chrysler.
Importantly, these firsts aren’t lame cup-holders or coat-hangers. Rather, the Pacifica claims the lightest and stiffest chassis in the segment, class-leading ride quality, class-leading aerodynamics (hard to top an oval) and the largest interior volume in the minivan field.
That’s not all, however, it’s also the first hybrid minivan with an innovative new electronically variable transmission (EVT) with two electric motors that can drive the wheels. Moreover, it can do 30 miles in all-electric mode and return 80 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) while also offering seating for eight or room enough for a load of plywood. If you’re not feeling the hybrid thing, Chrysler will sell you a V6-powered Pacifica that produces 287 horsepower.
It also has tons of tech — and screens — to boot. Up front, the driver and front passenger are given a 7-inch information display in the instrument cluster as well as a 8.4-inch touchscreen that runs Uconnect Access infotainment.
In the rear, where the kiddies will ride, Chrysler offers Uconnect Theater comprised of twin 10-inch touchscreens in the rear on which rear passengers can watch movies, play games or surf the Internet. Buyers can also pair this onslaught of screens with a premium audio system complete with active noise canceling technology, which will only improve the serenity of the ride.
Moving into the safety tech realm, the Pacifica offers Surround View 360-degree vision — including bird’s eye — around the minivan thanks to exterior cameras. It also offers ParkSense parking assistant that uses ultra-sonic sensors to help guide drivers. And on the road, drivers will be safer with the vehicle’s forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control as well as its LaneSense lane departure warning system.
Lastly, Chrysler has copied Honda’s lead and installed a RIGID vacuum system in the rear called Stow ‘n Vac. Granted, while that sounds kind of hokey, I do really wish my car had a built-in vacuum.
I’ll admit I was skeptical of the Pacifica when I first heard about it. After all, does America need a new minivan? I’m not sure. After looking at it and studying its features, though, I am kind of into the idea. For as shameful as that might be to write down, if you have to have a minivan, you might as well have the most efficient and techie one … and the Chrysler Pacifica seems to be that.