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2017 Chrysler Pacifica

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Base Price: $28,595
Price as Tested: $47,285 (est.)

Confident that the complete redesign of its minivan represents a huge leap forward, Chrysler even retired its Town & Country nameplate to make way for a new moniker: Pacifica. Well, not totally new. Having been rescued from the dustbin of history, Pacifica was the nameplate Chrysler used for its short-lived version of the Mercedes-Benz R-Class several years ago.

Keep it on the down-low, but I don’t just like minivans; I really like minivans! I know it’s not macho, cool nor trendy to admit such a thing; but when it comes to blending comfort, practicality and utility, nothing else compares. Chrysler Pacifica covers all these bases and more.

Although the original minivan concept was hatched at Ford, its shortsightedness allowed a few executives, including Lee Iacocca, to walk the idea out the door with its blessing. Within five years of Iacocca’s departure from Ford, Chrysler had a minivan in production. Several competitors came and disappeared over the decades since. Competition, though, is fierce among the few remaining minivans; but with the 2017 Pacifica, Chrysler reclaims segment leadership.

Toward the second half of 2016, Chrysler will release a hybrid version; but for now we’ll concentrate on the regular Pacifica that’sDSC03175 already arriving in showrooms. For the present, Dodge will continue to sell the 2016 Grand Caravan, but eventually it will disappear completely.

Chrysler left no stone unturned in reimagining its minivan. Any way you cut it, a minivan is a two-box design. Chrysler, however, managed to actually make Pacifica’s outer wrapping sleek. Personality seeps from every pore. Inside, the styling is equally current without feeling gimmicky.

All new from the ground up, Pacifica is a clean-sheet-of-paper vehicle designed around its unique Stow ‘n Go seating that allows both second- and third-row seats to be folded flat into the floor. With all the seats folded, a full 4×8 sheet of plywood will lay flat on the cargo floor, and the rear liftgate will still close. Oh, and Pacifica has the largest interior volume in the segment to boot. That’s utility.

Pacifica is 250 pounds lighter than the outgoing Town & Country; yet, its structure is stronger and stiffer. This stiffer architecture translates into more stable handling, as well as quieter performance. Hydraulic-elastic mounts cradle the engine and transmission, reducing noise and vibration.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica LimitedTurning the front wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission with a rotary-dial shifter, the next-generation Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 pumps out a segment-leading 287 horsepower. Having driven Pacifica among a variety of Southern California conditions ranging from twisty mountain roads, to freeways to congested surface streets, I can confidently say this V6-tranny combo performs brilliantly across the board.

Among the segment’s fuel-economy front runners, Pacifica delivers a government-estimated 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. The highway and combined mpg are among the segment’s best.

Five Pacifica grades ensure a wide range of feature choices from the most affordable $28,595 LX trim to the heavily contented $42,495 Limited. Although the interior of the LX seems rather tame when viewed next to the Limited, the basic styling and layout are the same. That is to say, convenient, user friendly and easy on the eye.

There are storage cubbies galore scattered around the cabin that features such innovations as an iPad drawer, USB ports in the back of the front seats, LED cabin lighting and an available panoramic sunroof. Segment firsts don’t stop there.

As you move up through the trim levels, such goodies as hands-free power-sliding side doors and liftgate add to the convenience2017 Chrysler Pacifica story. Pacifica offers a gaggle of available safety technologies like parallel/perpendicular-parking assist, forward-collision warning and braking, lane-departure warning with mitigation, and rear-park assist with full stop.

Wonderfully quiet, Pacifica’s cabin is a terrific place to spend a few hours. For the kids, Chrysler amps up rear seat entertainment with Pacifica’s available Uconnect Theater rear-seat entertainment suite. Two 10-inch high-def monitors/touchscreens allow passengers to watch movies, play built-in games or integrate personal devices to stream content. In addition to the base six-speaker audio system, Pacifica offers a 13-speaker Alpine system and a 20-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

With the entry-level LX, standard equipment includes full power accessories, active noise cancellation, three-zone climate control, 5.0 Uconnect systems interface with 5-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, eight-way power driver’s seat, Stow ‘n Go seating system, eight airbags, and keyless start.

2017 Chrysler PacificaBy the time you reach the Limited grade the standard equipment really piles up with Uconnect 8.4N that adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen and navigation system, remote start, leather seating, heated front and second-row seats, ventilated front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, and nearly all the available features mentioned above. Limited also has the second-row Stow ‘n Vac system, with a vacuum cleaner with enough hose to not only vacuum the Pacifica’s entire interior, but also a vehicle parked next to it.

Not matter the metric by which you judge Pacifica, it is a home run.