All-new Chrysler Pacifica Only Minivan Named IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2017

Today’s announcement by the IIHS reprises the Chrysler Pacifica’s 2016 TSP+ designation, and complements the five-star overall safety rating the Pacifica achieved in testing by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“With more than 100 available safety and security features, everything from Forward Collision Warning to a 360-degree Surround View Camera to the ability to parallel park itself, the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is designed and built to check the box on key attributes many families value above all others – safety and security,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands – FCA North America. “Pacifica is the only minivan to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2017, further solidifying its place as the leader in the segment.”

TSP+ status is contingent on achieving ratings of “good” in five IIHS crashworthiness evaluations. The Chrysler Pacifica achieves “good” – the highest possible rating – in each. The tests simulate:

  • a side impact with a large SUV or pickup truck;
  • a moderate-offset frontal impact;
  • a small-offset frontal impact;
  • roof-deformation consistent with a rollover; and
  • a rear collision capable of inducing whiplash.

High-strength steel accounts for 72 percent of its body structure, 38 percent of which is Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS). Such material choice was a key contributor to the all-new minivan’s crashworthiness, however, advanced engineering contributed further.

Using an in-house process called Rapid Concept Development (RCD), FCA US engineers employed high-powered computers to identify optimal body-structure design. The computers help simulate vehicle performance and pinpoint strategies that best accommodate occupant protection.

In certain frontal impacts, these strategies include dividing crash energy between multiple components, such as frame rails and the vehicle’s engine cradle.

While the all-new Pacifica aces the required crash tests, the best safety features are those that help drivers avoid collisions. The Chrysler Pacifica’s Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system earns a rating of “superior,” the highest possible grade the IIHS awards for this technology and another prerequisite to achieve TSP+ status.

The Pacifica’s system is called Forward Collision Warning-Plus. It features sensor-fusion technology, which combines the particular attributes of radar sensors and cameras for greater precision. The system only responds when camera and radar agree that a frontal impact appears imminent.

System response comprises audible and visual driver warnings and/or AEB. And no other minivan features sensor-fusion technology; competitive systems employ either cameras or radar sensors.

AEB is available in 10 FCA US vehicles across seven segments:

  • Full-size SUV (Dodge Durango)
  • Mid-size SUV (Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee)
  • Small SUV/Crossover (Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X)
  • Mid-size sedan (Chrysler 200)
  • Premium mid-size sedan (Alfa Romeo Giulia)
  • Full-size sedan (Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger)
  • Minivan (Chrysler Pacifica)

Forward Collision Warning-Plus is among more than 100 safety and security features available on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which starts at $28,595, excluding destination charges.

Earning a 2017 Top Safety Pick+ designation is the latest in a string of more than two dozen honors accumulated, so far, by the all-new Chrysler Pacifica. Numerous North American automotive publications and journalism organizations, such as the following, have named it among 2017’s “best” vehicles:

  • Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC)
  • Car and Driver
  • Cars.com
  • Consumer Guide® Automotive
  • Kelley Blue Book
  • Ruedas ESPN
  • The Car Connection
  • The Car Guide / Le Guide de L’Auto
  • Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA)

** The designation applies to any 2017 Chrysler Pacifica produced after August 2016.

About Chrysler Brand
The Chrysler brand has delighted customers with distinctive designs, craftsmanship, intuitive innovation and technology all at an extraordinary value since the company was founded in 1925.

Whether it is the family-room-on-wheels functionality of the all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, the groundbreaking, bold design of the Chrysler 300, or the simple elegance and extraordinary driving experience of the Chrysler 200, Chrysler brand vehicles reward the passion, creativity and sense of accomplishment of its owners. Beyond just exceptionally designed vehicles, the Chrysler brand has incorporated thoughtful features into all of its products, such as the innovative center console with pass through storage and sliding cup holders in the Chrysler 200, the industry-exclusive Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system on the Chrysler Pacifica and the fuel-saving Fuel Saver Technology in the Chrysler 300.

The Chrysler brand’s succession of innovative product introductions continues to solidify the brand’s standing as the leader in design, engineering and value. The premium for the Chrysler brand is in the product, not the price.

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ —

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Hispanic Motor Press Awards® Selects All-new Chrysler Pacifica and Jeep® Wrangler as 2017 Autos del Año©

Two FCA US LLC vehicles were recognized within their segments as Autos del Año® (Cars of the Year) during the seventh annual Hispanic Motor Press Awards® (HMPA) at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. The all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica earned top honors in the minivan segment and the Jeep® Wrangler 75th Anniversary Edition earned the award in the Adventure 4×4 segment.

“There is nothing like the original minivan, and with the Pacifica, Chrysler gets back to the top of the minivan segment,” said Ricardo Rodriguez-Long, president of the Hispanic Motor Press. “The all-new Pacifica offers the convenience, safety and value that all Hispanic families are looking for.”

A committee of 16 Hispanic automotive journalists and influencers test drove approximately 100 vehicles for the 2017 HMPA Autos del Año. The jurors seek to find the single model in each category that is the best value in the market for Hispanic families. All facets of the vehicles are evaluated, including design, comfort, safety, economy, handling, performance, functionality, environmental requirements, driver satisfaction and value.

“There is no other 4×4 on the market that can truly embody what adventure means like the Jeep Wrangler,” said Rodriguez-Long. “For the Hispanic consumer, Jeep is all about adventure.”

Eligible vehicles considered for the awards must be all-new models and available to consumers in all 50 of the United States. This year’s panel of experts drove new cars throughout the year to evaluate the attributes best suited for the Hispanic consumer.

About Chrysler Pacifica
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica reinvents the minivan segment with an unprecedented level of functionality, versatility, technology and bold styling. Re-engineered from the ground up on an all-new platform, the Pacifica delivers class-leading gasoline and hybrid powertrains to the minivan segment. With more than 100 available safety and security features, the all-new Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment system, and a full array of comfort and convenience technologies, the Chrysler Pacifica is a no-compromises minivan ideally suited for today’s families and has earned its spot as the most awarded minivan of the year.

About Jeep Wrangler
The iconic 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited – the most capable and recognized vehicle in the world – features a standard eight-speaker audio system and an optional Premium Alpine Audio Package that includes nine Alpine speakers, a subwoofer and a 552-watt amplifier. The 2017 Jeep Wrangler delivers unmatched off-road capability with legendary four-wheel drive and is produced with more than seven decades of 4×4 engineering experience. Wrangler continues to offer a body-on-frame design, front and rear five-link suspension system, live axles, electronic lockers, and is one of the few mid-size SUVs that offer a six-speed manual transmission, in addition to its five-speed automatic.

About the Hispanic Motor Press Awards
Since 2010 the objective of the Hispanic Motor Press Awards has been to select the best offerings in overall design, comfort, safety, performance, functionality, driver satisfaction and consumer final cost to select the vehicles that offer the best value for the Hispanic family. The Hispanic consumer deserves to know the truth about which vehicles are the best values in the market. For more information and to find out about previous winning vehicles, visit www.hispanicmotorpressawards.com.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ –

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the world’s first hybrid plugin minivan

The Pacifica Hybrid will be appealing enough for families and others who like the utility, capacity, and ease of entry that minivans offer, but it’s also good as an electric vehicle.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid wraps a number of firsts into one innovative package.

The Pacifica minivan, launched this year, has received positive reviews for its combination of stylish design, comfortable interior, easy-to-use infotainment, and capacious carrying capacity for up to eight adults and their goods.

Despite its name, the Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid with a 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack that gives it an estimated EPA-rated electric range of 30 miles. That makes it the world’s first plug-in hybrid minivan.

The combination of an seven-seat vehicle with usable electric range will be appealing enough for families and others who like the utility, capacity, and ease of entry that minivans offer.

But the Pacifica Hybrid is also good as an electric vehicle, with strong enough electric power that it doesn’t kick on its engine at the merest provocation, as do lower-range plug-in hybrids from luxury makers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

We tried hard to get the vehicle into this year’s Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy award competition, but Chrysler’s embargo on driving impressions (today) missed our deadline for the award by exactly one day.

Getting behind the wheel of the plug-in hybrid Pacifica, very little is changed from the conventional version that is now appearing on U.S. roads.

Slightly different frontal styling and a charge port on the left-front fender are about the only clues to the electrified minivan’s very different powertrain.

And Fiat Chrysler, whose CEO has long trumpeted his irritation at having to produce zero-emission vehicles to stay legal in California, has produced a remarkably good plug-in hybrid for its first effort.

The company’s philosophy is that this is a powertrain option, not a lifestyle, and so it’s relatively simplified.

This explains, among other things, the choice of name: “hybrid” is a familiar term that translates to better energy efficiency, whereas “plug-in hybrid” will likely be confusing to family-vehicle buyers of the sort who don’t read sites like this one.

Starting off with a charged battery, the Pacifica Hybrid defaults to all-electric operation—though unlike the Prius Prime, it will kick on the engine when full throttle is needed (and keep it on for long enough to warm up the emission-control system).

In a variety of drive routes and conditions among three different High Gear Media editors, we found the plug-in minivan to be a capable performer on electricity alone.

It’s hardly Tesla-fast, but in local use and even on highways up to about 70 mph, it will stay in all-electric mode and most likely deliver its rated 30 miles of electric range. (We haven’t yet tested it in winter weather, however.)

In mixed driving conditions, including lots of up- and downhill stretches, we saw 32 miles before the battery was depleted. In the right conditions, we might expect as much as 35 miles of electric range.

The accelerator is linear and easy to modulate, and we found the braking good: progressive and without any annoying regenerative traits. Switching from all-electric to hybrid mode was smooth, seamless, and shudder-free.

A “low” setting increases the regeneration, but it’s nowhere near as strong as the BMW i3, Chevy Bolt EV or Volt, or any Tesla model.

There’s no Volt-style increase in regenerative braking on demand, which means one-pedal driving would be close to impossible. Nor is there an “EV only” mode or an option to conserve battery charge for later use.

Asked about this, Chrysler engineers essentially said they’d wanted to keep the driving experience as familiar as possible, since they felt a large number of Pacifica Hybrid buyers would likely be new to hybrids and plug-in vehicles.

Given its first-in-the-segment position, that’s not an unreasonable assumption, we think.

The “easy and understandable” approach extends to the instrumentation, which is standard Pacifica with a few additions: an energy tab on the center touchscreen that shows energy flow, and a powertrain display between the gauges.

On the road, the ride is smooth and the roadholding is good. Even the standard Pacifica is a large vehicle, and the added 650 pounds of the hybrid version—with the battery mounted below the second-row passengers’ feet—keeps it firmly planted in turns.

Recharging the 16-kwh battery takes 2 hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, or about 14 hours on a standard 120-volt household circuit. The onboard charger is rated at 6.6 kilowatts.

Once the battery was empty, in mixed driving with considerable traffic, we averaged 28 miles per gallon. Final EPA ratings aren’t out yet, though the non-hybrid version comes in at 22 mpg combined.

Chrysler estimates an efficiency of 80 MPGe when running electrically, although that’s for the city portion of the test and not the combined number. (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, or MPGe, is a measure of how far a vehicle can travel electrically on the same amount of energy as contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.)

Obviously driving style, speed, and traffic conditions will vary that result considerably.

It’s worth noting that while the third-row seat in the Pacifica Hybrid still folds flat into its compartment below the floor, the second row no longer does—because Chrysler’s “Stow-N-Go” bin for the rear seat is now occupied by the battery.

On the other hand, that gives second-row riders more comfortable seats with thicker and plusher upholstery than those designed to fold into the floor.

The two pieces of the rear seat are removable for maximum cargo capacity, weighing about 60 pounds apiece.

The majority of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids are likely to be the Platinum modelstarting at $44,995, its maker says, though the Premium base version starts at $41,995. Both prices are before the mandatory destination fee.

All Pacifica Hybrids qualify for the full $7,500 federal income-tax credit for purchase of a plug-in vehicle, and a $1,500 purchase rebate in California plus “green sticker” single-occupant access to that state’s highway carpool lanes.

Chrysler offers a 15-year, 150,000-mile warranty on all emission-related equipment and a 10-year, 150,000-mile warranty on the battery (against failure, not against capacity degradation).

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will go on sale later this year, and arrive in dealerships in volume early next year. It will be distributed nationally.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article referred to the Pacifica Hybrid as an “eight-seat” vehicle. While a version of the conventional Pacifica is available with a three-position second row, the hybrid model comes only with captain’s chairs in the second row, which are standard for its two upper-level trim options. We thank reader Sopfu for the correction and apologize for the error.

 

Chrysler Pacifica: A Minivan Minus the Shame

Chrysler Pacifica: A Minivan Minus the Shame

The beleaguered minivan has long been associated with lame domesticity, but Chrysler’s redesigned Pacifica could change all that

After inventing the category three decades ago, Chrysler had more recently let its minivan products languish while new owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles radically re-ordered global product design and production, the five-year plan. The 2017 Pacifica—the Town &Country name is retiring—debuts aboard FCA’s global large minivan architecture and represents a good share of about $2 billion in product development money. In many respects Pacifica jumps two generations of product design.

It is not an exaggeration to say that if, today, I had to choose one vehicle to drive for the rest of my natural life, it would be this 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited.

I wouldn’t be thrilled about it—I’ve got the fob of a Porsche this week—but there it is. #minivantruth.

Why? Because minivans rock, a priori. Easy midrow entry, two rows of flippy-foldy seats, flexible cargo space that can handle 4X8 plywood, and the blessed, Promethean gift of sliding side doors. Many minivans have dual-screen entertainment systems with headphones, which act on restless children just as the lightest touch of a rubber mallet. What’s not to love?

The Pacifica minivan, a crown-jewel segment for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is coming off a $2 billion redesign that should keep it technically relevant for some time. It only has to outlast me.

You might ask if minivans are so great, why are they losing market share to crossovers and SUVs? Segment sales have fallen from about 1.4 million units in 2000 to about 500,000 last year. Ford and Chevy don’t offer minivans for the U.S. anymore. The remaining players include the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Kia Sedona. There’s a hint.

The whole category has been historically under-baked; and no product has been more gooey in the middle than Chrysler’s bailout-era Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan.

An interior view

I would have changed the name, too.

The institutional bet on the part of FCA is that a comely, well-proportioned minivan, properly executed, can claw back market share from SUVs and crossovers.

In order to do that, the reasoning went, Pacifica had to challenge the stigma of minivans as scarlet letters of domesticity.

I’ve always been uneasy about the predicate here. Minivan shaming, lightly laughed off, reflects the larger culture in which we regard family and commitment as lingering, fatal conditions to be first avoided.

God, people are shallow and insecure. I’m glad I’m not one of them.

This image helps illustrate one of the challenges of building a minivan. Such vehicles are rather like upside-down shoeboxes. Twist and the lid and the box distorts and want to separate. Cut holes in the box, for windows, and torsional rigidity is even worse. The Pacifica, debuting FCA’s global large minivan platform, deploys a dramatically stronger, lighter mixed-metal structure that exhibits 90% higher torsional rigidity than the retiring minivan. Chrysler even felt confident enough to cut another hole in the box: the Pacifica’s optional Tri-Pane Panoramic sunroof, seen here.

In any event, FCA spent a lot to make the Pacifica look great, in hopes that pride of ownership would help ease the shame of functioning ovaries, or whatever.

The Pacifica casts about the same size shadow as the retiring model, just a tick wider, with a deeper stance over wheel wells that fit 17-, 18- or 20-inch wheels. Its signature flourish is the gently bowed roof, a flyline with the bright metallic roof rails.

The Pacifica wants very much to be seen, with gussying bright work framing the windows, the upper and lower grille, and the lower light line. Please observe the way the two character lines—rising from scroll-like curves, fore and aft—come together under the A pillar, dashing together like fencing foils.

It’s got energy. Dignity. I like it. Mom will not have to put a bag over her head leaving the grocery store.

Pacifica advances the state of the art in Chrysler’s trademark Stow’n Go seating. The midrow seats will tilt and slide forward to allow access to the rear, even if a child safety seat is in place. Also new is push-button assist that draws the front and passenger seat forward to clear room for the folding seats, which disappear into tubs in the floor. One note: As part of the vehicle’s structural engineering, these boxes were integrated in the load-bearing structure, making it in effect a transverse beam, right where rigidity and crash strength is needed. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in the coming plug-in hybrid model, this space, and consequently the midrow Stow’n Go function, will be sacrificed to store the battery pack.

The other big deliverable for the Pacifica team: structure. Minivans bodies want to flex and twist just like a shoebox with five big holes cut into it, six if you count a sunroof.

Even a little wiggle has all kind of consequences, from ride and drivability to weather sealing.

This inherent character of minivan bodies can, of course, be quelled by the diligent application of money, and that is what FCA has done here, finally.

The upper body and lower frame are now bonded together as a proper modern unibody, much of it comprising high-strength steel, with aluminum and magnesium used in the body panels.

The resulting structure displays a whopping 90% higher torsional rigidity (resistance to twisting) than the tin can it replaces, while overall weight is down about 250 pounds, to 4,330 pounds.

The Pacifica can even be had with a nearly all-glass roof, the optional Tri-Pane Panoramic Sunroof.

Imagine sitting in an overturned glass-bottom boat.

Not to over-praise. Really, this is how FCA should have been building them all along: Full-perimeter front and rear suspension cradles of high-strength steel; forged aluminum chassis bits like knuckles and control arms; sophisticated suspension geometry; and lots of NVH countermeasures, including acoustic laminate windshield glass; sound-absorbing wheel well liners; and lots of hydraulic bushings, isolators and baffles.

This bill of materials really makes a difference, as does a million hours of aero simulation to chase down acoustic hotspots.

The Pacifica’s cabin tranquility makes the former seem like an open railcar. Chrysler reports noise levels at cruising speed at are a best-in-class 63 decibels, under the muffling blanket of an active noise cancellation.

This provides a proper backdrop for the optional UConnect Theater and Sound group ($2,795), combining 20 Harman Kardon speakers with a 760-watt amplifier and two seatback LCD screens the size of LP jackets.

Oh, you want conveniences? Our Pacifica Limited tester ($48,455) had a built-in vacuum cleaner with a 11.4-foot retractable hose; hands’ free sliding doors and liftgate. (you wave your foot under the car to activate); and the latest in Stow’n Go mechatronics. The front seats can be drawn forward.

The midrow seats slide and tilt forward to ease access to the back row, even if there is a child safety seat in place.

The third-row seats also fold flat and disappear under the cargo bed at the touch of a button. With both seat-rows flat, the interior looks huge, a carpeted hangar. FCA says the interior volume leads the class at 197.3 cubic feet. It’s all so… beautiful.

How’s it drive? Adequately, withal. At the moment the Pacifica is available with front-wheel drive, powered by naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 (287 hp/262 lb-ft) and a nine-speed transmission. The gear selector is a rotary dial on the dash.

This engine-transmission package is strong and capable, but amid all the quietude the big V-6 could get buzzy and displayed moments of transient naughtiness. The transmission’s clutch-on-clutch architecture is abrupt and can make the vehicle lurch a bit at light throttle.

If I could push off the car-for-life choice for another 30-60 days, I might opt for the plug-in hybrid.

It will use a hybrid-tuned variant of the V-6 combined with a dual-motor EVT and a 16 kWh lithium battery.

Projected nominal are 260 horsepower, total system output, 30 miles of all-electric range; and fuel economy equivalent to of 80 mpg, according to the EPA.

I say, might. The battery pack will have to go into the floor tubs where the brilliant middle seats usually can hide flat. Stow’n Go seating or saving the planet?

Hmm….

Minivan Review: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

Overview

By Graeme Fletcher

A luxurious take on the ultimate people mover

Pros Flexibility, comfort, fuel economy

Cons Backward switch logic, no Stow ‘n Go middle-row for the Hybrid, cost

Value for money Fair

What would I change? Rethink the switch logic and add a more affordable base model to the line-up

Since the introduction of the original Dodge Caravan in 1984, Chrysler has ruled the minivan roost. The latest expression of the company’s take on the ultimate people mover is the new Pacifica. It started with a clean computer screen, so just about every facet is new or has been reworked for the better. The one thing that does not change, however, is the utility and flexibility engineered into the cabin.

Up front, the Pacifica features top-shelf materials and supportive Nappa leather-wrapped seats — a 1,000-kilometre trip did not produce the dreaded numb-bum. Then there’s the attention to detail, found in the likes of the French stitching on the instrument panel and, of all things, the mat that finishes the lower storage area; it has four generations of minivan neatly embossed into the liner. This Easter egg thing is rapidly becoming a Chrysler trait; look at the base of the Renegade’s windshield and there sits a pictogram of the original Jeep.

The Limited tester arrived as loaded as loaded gets, with everything from heated/cooled front seats and an oversized panoramic moonroof to all of the latest gizmos including Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system and its 8.4-inch touchscreen. This system remains the easiest of its ilk to use; for example, pairing a phone was so simple my 11-year-old daughter accomplished the feat in seconds and without having to refer to the owner’s manual.

So far it’s all eminently logical. That is, until you get to the buttons for the park assist, lane departure warning and stability control systems. When the light in the switch is illuminated, the system is turned off. That’s backwards — the A/C button illuminates when the system is keeping an oppressive summer day at bay, which is as it should be!

Move rearward and things are just as swanky. There’s seating for up to eight passengers, no fewer than 243 seating configurations (or so says Chrysler!) and a ton of space. With all the seats in place, there’s 915 litres behind the third row – enough for five golfers and their clubs with room to spare. Power the third row down and the capacity jumps to 2,478 litres; drop the middle Stow ’n Go row seats and there’s a cavernous 3,979 litres. The plus is the seats are always ready to go when needed. In many cases, one or more of a typical minivan’s seats is gathering dust in the garage and not available for use after schlepping half a house’s worth of stuff to university. This is the one area where Chrysler’s minivans have no peer.

One of the cool features proved to be the middle-row entertainment system with touch-sensitive screens. The system not only plays movies, it includes some built-in games and the “Are We There Yet?” app; when the driver punches a destination into the navigation system, the app shows the distance to go and estimated time of arrival, which dispenses with that age-old question.

The Pacifica arrives with Chrysler’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, putting out 287 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, which delivers sprightly performance — it canters to 100 km/h in eight seconds and can tow 1,633 kilograms when properly equipped. The power is fed through the front wheels via a nine-speed automatic that shifts smoothly and, unlike some, manages to find the right gear at the right time. The unspoken plus proved to be fuel economy. Over that 1,000-km test, the Pacifica returned an average of 10.8 L/100 km, which given the size and capability came as a complete and very pleasant surprise.

Now if you are really into fuel economy, the Hybrid model uses the same engine, an electric motor and a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery to improve that number even more — it offers up to 48 km of electric-only driving.

Equally impressive was the manner in which the Pacifica balanced the need for comfort with the desire for handling. No, it is not a sports car by any means, but the suspension is quick to take a set in a corner and the steering delivers better-than-average feel and feedback. Likewise, understeer is moot for the most part thanks to the optional P245/50R20 tires; they deliver a ton of grip, although the perky nature of the engine does see them chirp on a fast take-off. Hit the highway, and the kilometres waft away in a very comfortable fashion. It’s a nicely balanced set-up given the fact it has to deal with just the driver much of the time, but with the capacity to transport a van-load of sumo wrestlers.

The new Chrysler Pacifica is well conceived and equally well executed, with a ton of flexibility, even more amenities, as well as plenty of power and surprising fuel efficiency. The hitch is found in the pricing. It starts at $43,995, but the Pacifica we tested had a sticker of $60,545. That’s a heck of a lot more than the buyers of the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country are used to paying

A first look at the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan

THINKING INSIDE THE BOX: Chrysler’s Pacifica is another step forward in the evolution of the minivan.

Chrysler created the minivan segment, but the automotive industry is a “What have you done for me lately?” business.

In Chrysler’s case—actually FCA nowadays—they’ve redesigned the minivan from the ground up and revived the Pacifica name for a brand-new 2017 minivan.

Somewhere along the line, the terms “soccer mom” and “minivan”—two positives—got turned into a single negative.

The truth is that minivans are unmatched for versatility, seating comfort, and being a “family room” on wheels for trips.

If I had a young family, there’s no question that a minivan would be my vehicle of choice.

FCA North America Eastern PR guru Lisa Barrow, Pacifica PR manager Angela Bianchi, and Pacifica marketing head Matt McAlear visited the New England Motor Press Assn. on June 14 with a mini-fleet of the new minivans.

NEMPA members had the opportunity to crawl through the vehicles, drive them on local roads and interstates, and hear a presentation from McAlear.

Why the Pacifica name?

“We wanted a fresh start,” says McAlear. “Our research showed the Pacifica name had positive recognition. Reviving that was a lot less expensive than starting out fresh and establishing a new brand name.”

Still, Chrysler has expended some marketing energy, creating a series of ads with comedian Jim Gaffigan as a “dufus” dad demonstrating the Pacifica’s features via inane antics. Another ad features Brooklyn Decker being taught the Pacifica’s ropes by equally irritating know-it-all kids.

It was about the time that McAlear was demonstrating the fold-flat, Stow ‘n Go second- and third-row seats that Jamie Paige Deaton, Auto Editor at US News, pulled out her own child seat to test the second row.

MARKETING MINIVANS: Chrysler’s Matt McAlear sees the minivan segment as continuing to be attractive and profitable.
MARKETING MINIVANS: Chrysler’s Matt McAlear sees the minivan segment as continuing to be attractive and profitable.

Bill Griffith

FCA says a second-row seat can tilt forward, even with a child’s seat attached, to allow easy access to the third row.

There is a “don’t try this with a child strapped into the seat” caveat involved.

Deaton demonstrated that the system works.

Fortunately for demonstration purposes, said car seat was filled with crumbs and some candy smudges that were transferred to the Pacifica’s second-row leather seat.

That was an opportunity to test the onboard vacuum with its 12-foot stretch hose (and additional 12-foot attachment in case you want to clean another of the family vehicles in the process) to suck up the detritus.

McAlear had noted that all Pacifica trim levels have the same power train—an upgraded 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that produces best-in-class horsepower (287) and torque (262 lb.-ft.), 28 mpg highway fuel economy, and is mated to a smooth 9-speed automatic transmission.

That means you pay for added features, with base models starting in the mid-20’s and top ones going into the low $40s. Top safety systems like autonomous braking and forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and rear park assist (with bump prevention) are available.

We liked the triple panoramic sunroof on the high-end version. But the Stow ‘n Go seating that allows both second- and third-row seats to fold flat is handy, too.

“You can carry 64 sheets of 4×8 plywood (1/4 inch) or 32 sheets of ½ inch,” says McAlear. “and unlike in a pickup truck, you can keep the wood dry on a rainy day.”

Driving a Pacifica for several additional days, we achieved the 28 mph highway claim—at least the onboard computer credited us with 28.4 mpg.

As for the notion that the minivan segment is fading away, McAlear thinks otherwise.

“Ten years ago, 17 models were selling about 1 million minivans a year,” he says. “Today a half-dozen of us are selling 500,000. That’s still a very viable market.”

The Pacifica’s infotainment screen arguably is the most user-friendly on the market.

And the available second-row DVR screens offer young ‘uns a variety of apps (games) and viewing options.

My grandson discovered one the next morning: The “Are we there yet?” feature.

We were driving from Connecticut to Newburyport, MA, and plugged the route into the Nav system.

From the rear seat, he could monitor our progress.

“Awesome,” he said.

That seems to be the early verdict on the Pacifica, too.

It’s Show Time

There are shows all over the area today. Here are some of the bigger ones:

Amesbury. This downtown show (9 a.m.-2 p.m.) also displays cars in the Millyard restoration area. Proceeds go to the coming Carriagetown Museum celebrating Amesbury’s history in carriage building and early automaking.

Elm Bank. The show outgrew its Wellesley estate site and is moving to a larger venue at 45 Hospital Road in Medfield. This 14th annual show will be judged in more than 30 classes and annually draws 800 vehicles.

Cape Cod. The Falmouth Classic Car Club has the first of its three annual events today (10-2) at Marine Park on Scranton Avenue.

Brookline. It’s British Car Day from 10-2 at Larz Anderson Auto Museum.

Epping, N.H. The Orientals Hot Rod Club (est. 1957) is having the New England Hot Rod Hall of Fame event and show today at New England Dragway.

Next week: Thursday, the Heritage Museums and Gardens and Museums in Sandwich goes “Under the Hood” from 6-7:30 p.m. with collector Jack Rosen talking about the collecting lifestyle and building his 2002 Can-Am race car. Contact Julie Raynor at 508-888-3300 x175.

Finally, next weekend (July 2-4) is the traditional Cars of Summer show at Green Hill Park in Worcester. Details at carsofsummer.com.

A first look at the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan