2018 Pacifica New Car Test Drive
Chrysler Pacifica is the latest word in minivans and is arguably the best in its class, beating standout Honda Odyssey with brilliantly designed foldaway seating.
Way back in the mid-1980s, Chrysler unveiled the first minivan, as a 1984 model. More than three decades later, after the original minivan had gone through several generations, the company developed a modern-day minivan to take the place of the original. Lighter in weight and more efficient than its ancestors, Pacifica was born.
Launched for the 2017 model year, the Pacifica gains a new base L model for 2018. Additional safety features also have been made standard on all 2018 Pacifica models. The Plug-in Hybrid version adds a Touring Plus model. The 2018 Pacifica comes in seven trim levels: L, LX, Touring Plus, Touring L, Touring L Plus, and Limited.
Beneath the Pacifica hood, Chrysler's 3.6-liter V6 makes 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, driving a 9-speed automatic transmission. All Pacifica models are front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is not available.
The Chrysler Pacifica may be the best minivan available for hauling cargo, with a capacity of 140 cubic feet, quickly convertible to people use. And while the Honda Odyssey excels at hauling people, Pacifica does a fine job at that, as well, offering comfortable second-row seats and adult-size third-row seating. Indeed, there is nothing mini about this minivan.
For increased fuel economy, Chrysler also offers a Plug-in Hybrid Pacifica, combining a gasoline engine with an electric motor and 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. Capable of traveling up to 33 miles on electricity alone, the Hybrid gets an EPA equivalent rating of 84 MPGe. Hybrid models lose cargo-carrying ability, however, because the second-row seats don't fold away.
Developing the Pacifica allowed Chrysler to get away from the familiar, near-boxy profile, turning the basic minivan idea into a sleek family hauler. Pacificas rank highly in safety, flexibility, and utility. They also maintain the minivan's original mission: to do just about everything well.
Safety is a strong point. Pacificas have scored well in crash-testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the 2018 Pacifica five stars overall, and also for both frontal and side impacts. The four-star rating for rollover resistance, a calculated score, is typical for taller vehicles.
All Pacificas are now equipped with a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors. Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking remain optional, only for certain versions.
In all crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2017 Pacifica earned Good scores. Available frontal crash-prevention systems gave it a Superior rating, and the Pacifica was named a Top Safety Pick+.
For certain trim levels, a Technology package combines forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and surround-view cameras. The optional lane-departure warning nudges the vehicle back into its lane, as needed.
Taking a page from the Honda Odyssey, an in-car vacuum cleaner is optional.
The new 2018 Chrysler Pacifica L ($26,995) comes with cloth seats, third-row Stow ‘n Go seating, rearview camera, 17-inch steel wheels, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, 7-inch touchscreen audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $1,095 destination charge.)
Pacifica LX ($29,795) upgrades with 17-inch alloy wheels, foldaway second-row seats, steering-wheel audio controls, three-zone air conditioning, and a power driver's seat. Pacifica Touring Plus ($32,595) gets power sliding side doors, a power driver's seat, three-zone automatic climate control, garage-door opener, alarm, automatic headlights, and remote start.
Pacifica Touring L ($35,495) includes perforated leather seats, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a chrome roof rack. Touring L Plus ($38,695) adds a heated steering wheel and second-row seats, 13-speaker Alpine audio, and wireless streaming.
Pacifica Limited ($43,695) gets hands-free sliding side doors, a hands-free power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, in-car vacuum, power-folding third-row seat, navigation, and real-time-traffic.
Pacifica Hybrid Touring Plus ($39,995) is equipped similar to gas-engine Touring Plus, with power sliding doors, a 7-inch digital display, remote start and a security alarm. Hybrid Touring L ($41,995) gets bright bodyside moldings, perforated leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, and a power liftgate. Hybrid Limited ($44,995) includes hands-free power sliding doors and liftgate, 20-speaker Harman Kardon audio, an upgraded console, and auto-dimming inside mirror.