FIRST DRIVE: The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Like station wagons, minivans had their heyday. They became the go-to family haulers whether you had one kid or five, but then something changed.

Wagons fell away when families embraced the minivan’s extra utility, and then minivans were supplanted by crossovers, as parents searched for something cooler. But there’s still life in the minivan, which Chrysler aims to prove with the new Pacifica minivan.

The long-running Town & Country has been discontinued, and the Pacifica is more than a T&C with a new name.

It starts with styling. The Pacifica is still unmistakably t a minivan, but this one looks good. That’s largely due to its wider, lower stance. It looks like a large SUV when viewed from the front.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Front Seats

The interior really makes the Pacifica shine. You buy a minivan to have a vehicle that will comfortably haul your family and all their stuff, and the Pacifica has plenty of room for both.

It starts with Stow ‘n Go seating so you don’t have to remove the center row when it’s time for cargo instead of people. A panel in the floor slides up, the seats flip down into the floor, and the panel slides back into place. It simplifies what can be a cumbersome process in other minivans.

This is complemented by new Stow ‘n Go Assist. Open the sliding doors, press a button next to the front seats, and those seats slide forward to make sure you have enough room to fold the second row without hitting the back of the first row. Push the button again and the seats slide right back into their place.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Getting into the third row is easier thanks to a feature called Easy Tilt. It lets you tilt the seats forward for easy access to the third row without having to remove any empty child seats installed in the second row. A small detail, but it’s one anyone who has ever struggled with installing a car seat can appreciate.

Opening the sliding doors on a minivan is a challenge if your hands are full, but the Pacifica makes it easy. The tailgate and both sliding doors are foot-activated for those times your hands are too full to dig out the keyfob or grab the handle. They’ve even made it easier for kids to open the doors thanks to an extra little button on the handle.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Interior

Instead of grabbing the handle and pulling to open the sliding doors, kids can just push this button and activate the doors the easy way. This means they can hop right in without waiting for mom or dad to open the doors, which speeds up the process of getting the family on their way.

The Pacifica is all about making your life easier. This includes making it easier to keep your car clean with a new in-car vacuum. Rather than locating this way in the back behind the third row, they put it in the second row. It’s where most kids sit and it’s where most of the mess happens. Not to worry, it comes with a long, flexible hose that easily stretches to cover the whole vehicle.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Dash

One thing no one associates with minivans is a satisfying driving experience. The Pacifica takes a stab at changing that perception with a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It has more horsepower than any other minivan and you’ll notice the difference.

There’s also a plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica, which will be out later this year. It can travel up to 30 miles on electricity alone and is expected to achieve 80 MPGe on a full battery charge and a full tank of gas. Summer road trips just got a lot easier and more affordable.

The gas engine responds well when you press the gas and quickly hits highway speeds making heavy traffic easy to navigate. Handling is also better than other minivans with less of the heavy, truck-like feel that makes them feel cumbersome and sloppy. Driving the Pacifica is effortless and easy.

You’ll also notice that the ride is smooth and quiet. The notable wind and road noise that typcially affects minivans is absent in the Pacifica. It’s a relaxing interior whether at highway speeds or on rougher side roads. Your kids may add some noise to the mix, but you can’t blame the Pacifica.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Infotainment

The Uconnect infotainment system includes an 8.4-inch color touchscreen with navigation and voice command. It’s one of the most intuitive systems you’ll find in any automaker’s car these days. The menus make sense, the icons are clear and easy to read, and the touchscreen is responsive – so you won’t be jabbing it in frustration. Chrysler also made the screen flush to the dashboard in the Pacifica, which helps give the dashboard a clean, uncluttered look.

Keeping kids entertained on the road is a challenge, so the Pacifica features Chrysler‘s new Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment system. It’s fabulous. The kids can watch movies, play built-in games, and even get updates on how close you are to your destination without having to ask the poor, beleaguered adults in the front seats.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Seat

There are two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens for accessing the system and, just like the front infotainment screen for the grown-ups, they’re responsive so little people won’t be frustrated. If the games that come with the system aren’t enough, kids can also connect to the internet and stream content of their choice.

Safety is a priority with the Pacifica, as it should be in any car but especially in one that will be packed with kids. There are over 100 standard and available safety features. This includes LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus, Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Active Cruise Control and a 360-degree surround view camera. There’s also ParkSense Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist to guide the Pacifica into a parking space hands-free.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Full

There are five different trim levels of the Pacifica starting with the base LX priced at $28,595. It tops out with the Limited at $42,495. Pricing on the hybrid has yet to be released. The range of models and pricing make the Pacifica a minivan that’s affordable for a variety of family budgets.

The minivan might not be the popular family car it once was, but the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica isn’t the same old minivan. It offers modern styling, advanced safety technology, and comfort and convenience features that families will love.