Nobody does it better. For decades, the Chrysler Voyager was a go-to vehicle for people needing to transport other people in space and comfort. The Voyager’s baton has now been passed on to the visually similar Pacifica, whose SUV-like nose and stylish alloy wheels give this van a svelte appearance. Sliding side doors will never be sexy, but the Pacifica is certainly handsome enough in a bold color, and its boxy body pays dividends when you step inside. This is an exceptionally practical vehicle, capable of seating up to eight people in real comfort. Heated front seats incorporate fold-out armrests, while the optional second-row captain’s chairs do likewise.

Most non-hybrid models have second-row seats that collapse into the floor to create a flat loading area, while the third-row seats in every trim do likewise to boost cargo capacity from 32 to 140 cubic feet. Other ingenious touches abound; the knurled aluminum gear selector has been relocated to the dash, creating a two-tier center console that can store anything from handbags to Hydro Flasks. Materials are also impressive, with leather and cross-stitching joining pillows for middle-row occupants in Pinnacle models.

Equipped to succeed. The Pacifica is very well-equipped for a minivan whose prices start below $40,000. For this, you’ll get a front-drive Touring (AWD costs up to $3,000 depending on the model), equipped with a remote start and a heated steering wheel. A well-designed ten-inch infotainment system offers satellite radio and wireless smartphone mirroring. Limited trim brings leather seating with third-row power-folding beneath a sunroof, while Pinnacle models pack in Nappa leather and twin ten-inch second-row touchscreens.

Whichever model you choose, safety is a given. America’s two crash test agencies have awarded the Pacifica full marks, while accident-avoidance tech across the range encompasses adaptive cruise with active lane control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and blind-spot monitoring. If your model doesn’t feature it as standard, a 360-degree camera can be added separately.

Decent dynamics. By minivan standards, the Pacifica is impressive to drive, with well-weighted steering and settled suspension contributing to a planted and pliable manner. The nose plunges into corners before body lean kicks in, but no more than you’d expect from a 4,500-pound van. Apart from a bit of noise, all is well.

Every Pacifica is fitted with a 3.5-liter V6, in two states of tune. The full-fat version graces gas-only models, generating 287 hp via a nine-speed gearbox. This is arguably the drivetrain’s weak link –nine-speed boxes have too many ratios for low-speed work, ferreting around for the optimal gear at the expense of hesitant power delivery. Even so, the Pacifica will reach 60 in less than eight seconds, so you won’t be shamed at the lights. If you want to add all-wheel drive, this clever system disengages the rear axle in dry weather to reduce fuel bills, though you still won’t achieve more than 20 mpg combined. FWD models return 22.

2023 Chrysler Pacifica Interior

Hybrid theory. The lesser-tuned V6 is found in the Pacifica Hybrid, alongside two electric motors and a 16-kWh battery pack. Unless you drop a brick on the gas pedal, it’ll accelerate under electric power alone, and cover 32 miles before internal combustion is required. As well as being quieter than the gas model, it rides slightly better and has a five-year warranty compared to the three-year affair on gas models, while achieving 30 mpg on the combined cycle. Surely, then, the only way is Hybrid?

That’s the theory. In practice, the Hybrid is deeply flawed. Firstly, it can’t be specified with AWD, though front-drive doesn’t pose the same challenges to buyers in colder states as rear-drive might. Secondly, those ingenious collapsing Stow ‘n’ Go seats can’t be specified. Thirdly, despite bolting on two additional motors to the V6, total horsepower is lower than in the gas models, yet it weighs 500 pounds more. If you’re regularly traveling fully loaded, you’ll notice the difference on a long incline or overtaking maneuver. Fourthly, while the EPA estimates $5,000 savings in fuel costs compared to a gas-powered Pacifica over a five-year period, you’ll pay between $5,000 and $7,000 extra to combine your chosen trim with a Hybrid powertrain.

Final thoughts. The Pacifica is a very likable car, whether you’re the designated driver or a passenger. Few vehicles can match the space, storage, and specifications incorporated into Chrysler’s minivan. You can sense how much expertise underpins Pacifica’s design, while those Stow ‘n Go seats haven’t been bettered by any competitor. As well as being large enough to host line dancing, the interior is well-equipped and modern, with a solid infotainment system and comfortable seats.

No vehicle is perfect, and the Pacifica has its faults as well. Many of these revolve around the Hybrid, which reduces much of the choice available to buyers of gas-powered models. It also fails to repay its price premium in fuel savings, while a combination of more weight and less power makes it far more labored under heavy loads or on long hills. Unless you do a large volume of local journeys, it’s hard to recommend the Hybrid – though it does deliver the usual Pacifica benefits alongside a slightly superior ride and reduced noise.

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