2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited: In toniest trim, it transforms family travel – STLtoday.com
The family road-trip experience has certainly changed.
Back in the day, we all crammed into a six-passenger station wagon — yeah, it had a front bench — where the primary entertainment was AM radio and the main pastime was Beetle Bop. (The first kid to spot a Volkswagen Beetle got to punch his or her sibling in the arm. BROTHER: “Ow! You hit too hard!” SISTER: “What a sissy!” DAD: “Don’t make me come back there!!!”)
Times and travel have changed.
We recently spent a week with the opulent, top-trim Chrysler Pacifica Limited, complete with rear-entertainment Uconnect Theater. No more Beetle Bop. This thing’s twin-screen rear-seat video, built-in gaming and individual audio entertainment had me shouting, “Make me come back there!”
We were smitten, if philosophically broke, after seeing our Limited’s bottom-line price of nearly 50-grand. But it justifies the cost with a dazzling array of sophisticated features and family-friendly perks, not the least of which is styling. Chrysler’s metal-benders have managed to make a minivan look sleek.
Of course, utility is the real reason to buy a van and the front-drive Pacifica, offered in LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring L Plus and Limited trim, is as handy as a universal remote.
Our van boasted myriad front-seat storage options and an aft built-in vacuum to clean up after the crumb-crunchers. We also had Chrysler’s reworked Stow ‘n Go seating, a marvel of engineering that allows second- and third-row seats to fold into the floor.
Meanwhile, virtually everything in Limited is power — sliding doors, liftgate, folding third-row and scoot-up function for front seats — making Stow ‘n Go access easy.
Also handy was the dual-function, driver-selectable cruise control — standard and Adaptive. The latter is part of the Advanced SafetyTec Group that includes, among other nannies, 360 Surround View camera, Forward Collision and Lane Departure warnings and Park Assist, which at the touch of a button has the van virtually park itself.
You can hit a button and make almost anything happen in this van.
At speed, Pacifica is quiet while its 3.6-liter, 287-hp V-6 provides decent power. Our nine-speed automatic occasionally hunted for a ratio — gears 6 through 9 are overdrives — but the hunt was mostly benign while delivering to us 20 mpg in 250 miles of mixed city/hwy driving.
Chrysler’s infotainment interface is, in our opinion, the best in the business, and our 8.4-inch Uconnect screen in Pacifica was no exception.
Finally, we should mention, in a minivan exclusive, Pacifica also can be had as a gas/electric hybrid.
I must confess, a minivan is not at the top of my list of dream cars, but if a family hauler is what’s called for, it’s tough to do better than this new Pacifica.
Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor to the Post-Dispatch and to AAA Midwest Traveler magazine’s online Web Bonus. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.