Introduced as a 2017 model, Chrysler’s all-new Pacifica aims to take the place of the Town & Country. Like its Dodge Caravan stablemate, that familiar minivan has served the company—and the public—well for more than three decades.

Back in 2004, Chrysler launched a large crossover SUV, also called the Pacifica. After failing to capture much attention, the original Pacifica disappeared after the 2008 model year.

Built on a new platform with a sculpted look, the revived Pacifica strives to veer away from the traditional minivan look. Sleeker than Town & Country, it borrows some front-end touches from the Chrysler 200 sedan. The rear liftgate is a bit more curved than typical of minivans. Inside the more sedan-like cabin, a horizontal layout aims to minimize the sitting-tall sensation. Still, the Pacifica’s sliding doors and other details manage to say “minivan” with clarity.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $28,595 (plus destination charge), the Pacifica comes in five trim levels: LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus, and Limited. Chrysler also has announced a Pacifica Hybrid.

Under the hood, a 3.6-liter V6 produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The nine-speed automatic transmission is controlled by a rotary e-shifter on the dashboard. Fuel economy is estimated at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway (22 mpg combined). That’s a bit better, especially on the highway, than the Town & Country.

Available features include an 8.4-inch touchscreen, a three-pane panoramic sunroof, hands-free sliding doors and liftgate, Enter ‘n Go, and a Uconnect Theater for rear passengers. LED headlights and taillights also are available. Safety options include a 360-degree surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control with stop and hold, forward collision and lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera, and ParkSense parallel/perpendicular parking assist.

Standard equipment in my Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L edition included:

  • Power liftgate and sliding doors
  • Heated power mirrors
  • Heated front seat
  • Uconnect 5.0
  • Six-speaker audio with satellite radio
  • Second-row power windows
  • Window shades
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Automatic headlights
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Rearview camera
  • Blind-spot detection

My Touring-L also included optional 13-speaker Alpine stereo and eight-passenger seating.

Performance Pros

BMW 640
  • Exceptional ride comfort. With a suspension that’s able to cope readily with nearly all ordinary pavement flaws, the Pacifica simply eases its way through each imperfection, transmitting as little of the roughness as possible.
  • Enthusiastic acceleration at low speeds. Approaching highway velocities, it’s less stirring but well past adequate.

Performance Cons

  • Some snarl can be heard on hard acceleration, at times approaching coarseness. Otherwise, the Pacifica is very quiet-running, especially while idling.
  • Ordinarily I wouldn’t criticize brisk acceleration, but when starting out and at low speed, the Pacifica can feel a little too eager, almost threatening to leap ahead when the gas pedal is barely touched.
  • Overall driving feel isn’t much different than the outgoing minivans provided.

Interior Pros

BMW 640
  • Dashboard flows attractively, but gauges are too dark to see easily on sunny days. Despite blue highlighting, speedometer numerals can almost seem to disappear at times.
  • Second-row entry. Oddly, getting aboard seems to demand a substantial climb up, though the floor doesn’t look much higher than the front’s.
  • Second-row bench is a tad hard. Extremely short bottoms give it a cramped feel, as if one is forced to bend forward. Toe space could be bigger, too; though otherwise, space is ample. Surprisingly, the center position is almost more comfortable than the sides.

Interior Cons

  • Dashboard flows attractively, but gauges are too dark to see easily on sunny days. Despite blue highlighting, speedometer numerals can almost seem to disappear at times.
  • Second-row entry. Oddly, getting aboard seems to demand a substantial climb up, though the floor doesn’t look much higher than the front’s.
  • Second-row bench is a tad hard. Extremely short bottoms give it a cramped feel, as if one is forced to bend forward. Toe space could be bigger, too; though otherwise, space is ample. Surprisingly, the center position is almost more comfortable than the sides.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Familiarity. Those who’ve scorned and scoffed at minivans won’t consider the Pacifica’s minivan-like aura to be a pleasant aspect. I’m not in that group, having long felt that minivans were among the most practical vehicles around, and didn’t deserve such scathing criticism.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Handling isn’t remarkably better than other minivans provide, though many drivers won’t mind. A Pacifica is easy to drive, but so were the previous minivans.

The Bottom Line

Yes, the Pacifica is immediately identifiable as a minivan, but effectively brought up to date in terms of solid refinement. Still, minivan fans (and plenty remain, despite the negative image the body style developed over the years) should feel right at home.