Chrysler Pacifica is the 2017 Free Press Utility Vehicle of the Year – Detroit Free Press
Innovation, efficiency and great engineering set the tone for the 2017 Detroit Free Press Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the year.
Chrysler Pacifica minivan
The Chrysler Pacifica makes its case for being the perfect family vehicle by adding kid-friendly new features to the back seat and offering many parents the opportunity to go gasoline-free with a plug-in hybrid model.
The all-new Pacifica minivan will eventually replace both the Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan in Fiat Chrysler’s lineup. It’s good enough to meet the challenge, with sleek looks, video screens that let kids play travel-friendly games like hangman and Sudoku, and stow & go seats in non-hybrid models.
The plug-in hybrid can cover 33 miles on battery power. That should cover much of the daily driving many parents do to school and other family events. The result could be letting a whole new group of drivers go gasoline-free and introducing generations of future drivers to electric vehicles. Safety features include adaptive cruise control, collision alert with automatic braking, blind spot alert and lane departure alert and assist.
Chrysler’s Uconnect system of voice recognition and other controls remains one of the auto industry’s underappreciated gems: reliable and easy to use.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica
First minivan with a plug-in hybrid model
EPA battery range 33 miles
Available features include rear touch screens with children’s travel games
Prices start at $28,595
Built in Windsor
Utility Vehicle of the Year 2nd and 3rd place
Second place: Honda CR-V — Everything about America’s best-selling SUV gets better when the fifth generation CR-V rolled into dealerships in December. The five-seat CR-V combines attractive prices with appealing features like adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.
Honda addressed one persistent complaint about its controls by restoring a volume dial to the audio system.
EPA fuel economy rating smokes key competitors like the Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4 thanks to a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the latest in Honda’s accomplished line of continuously variable transmissions.
Third place: Jaguar F-Pace — Jaguar’s first SUV offers the handling and performance the brand’s fans expect in an SUV body, moving some of the brand’s traditional appeal into the hot new vehicle class that’s taking the luxury market by storm. The F-Pace’s 380-horsepower supercharged 3.0L V6 and accomplished chassis will give the Porsche Macan a run for title of the most driver-oriented luxury SUV. A fuel-saving 180-horsepower 2.0-liter diesel will also be available.
The F-Pace uses Jaguar Land Rover’s new lightweight aluminum architecture and performance-oriented rear-biased all-wheel drive system.
Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.
Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan announces the Detroit Free Press 2017 Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the year
Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press