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Solid Performer

Chrysler's cool new minivan for 2017 impresses.

In 1962, Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, told the group to ditch the leather outfits, don sharp suits, and get more sophisticated on stage if they wanted to become stars.


The Pacifica is stylish and offers room for up to eight passengers. © Chrysler

They did, and it worked.

Now Chrysler has told its minivan to ditch the moving van look, don a sharp suit, and get more sophisticated in function to become an automotive star. It did and . . . we'll see.

Chrysler said one more thing to this family hauler: Get a cooler name. And thus we have the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, an all-new minivan that is to the Town and Country what "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was to "Meet the Beatles!" In fact, so confident of success is this new minivan that it's adopted some Chrysler artifacts that some might view as jinxed. It wears the "new face" of Chrysler, a styling cue that debuted on the 2015 Chrysler 200 (a sedan whose early demise has already been announced); and it bears the name Pacifica, which adorned a short-lived 2004–2008 crossover.

Why is Pacifica brimming with bravado? For starters, it's way better-looking than other minivans. Chrysler stylists have managed to take what is essentially a meat locker with seats and given it a polished profile that features sleek windows, a deep lower-body character impression, and an all-but-invisible sliding-door track .

Of course, utility is a big reason to buy a minivan, and the front-drive Pacifica – offered in LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring L Plus and Limited trim – is loaded with it.

The Touring-L I sampled boasted myriad front-seat storage – twin door pockets, two center-stack shelves, big floor-console bins and more – plus Chrysler's reworked Stow ‘N Go® seating, which remains a marvel of engineering. Stow ‘N Go allows second- and third-row seats to fold into the floor, thereby retaining the seats in the vehicle while, at the same time, creating an absolutely flat load floor from tailgate to front seats. Remarkable.

Still, safety is king in family haulers, and Pacifica delivers with more than 100 standard and available features, everything from the 360-degree Surround View Camera technology to Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go.

Chrysler Group's infotainment interface is, in my opinion, the best in the business, and the 8.4-inch Uconnect Access® screen in Pacifica was no exception. It boasts an easily navigated, modern touch screen and big knobs for the radio.

On the road, Pacifica is quiet while its 3.6-liter, 287-horsepower, V-6 engine provides decent power. If you want a hot rod, get a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. But if you want a minivan with pep that's adequate to the task, Pacifica answers the bell.

Our nine-speed automatic occasionally hunted for a ratio – gears six through nine are overdrives – but the hunt was mostly benign, while delivering to us 26 mpg in 150 miles, 120 of those on the highway.

Finally, this 2017 Pacifica, starting at $29,590, has a base price $1,400 lower than the 2016 Town and Country it replaces. Mom and dad will take note of that, as well as Pacifica's versatility, and agree that this minivan is fab.

September/October 2016 Issue

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Dan Wiese is an automotive freelance writer living in St. Louis, Mo.




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