2017 Chrysler Pacifica Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, January 11, 2016
- Redesigned replacement for the Town & Country minivan
- Gasoline V-6 and plug-in hybrid powertrain choices
- Exterior styling and interior design themes similar to Chrysler 200 sedan
- Several trim levels from basic to luxurious
- Improved Stow ‘n Go seating
- Available hands-free sliding doors and liftgate
- Long list of safety and technology upgrades
- On sale in spring of 2016; Hybrid follows in late 2016
Nearly a decade after Chrysler last redesigned its minivan, at which time the automaker effectively handed the segment to Honda and Toyota, a new Chrysler minivan has debuted at the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
The Chrysler Pacifica name has been used before, on a short-lived crossover SUV, as a trim level for the Dodge Daytona, and for Chrysler’s now shuttered California design studio. Perhaps this time around, it will have staying power.
Built on an all-new platform equipped with what Chrysler calls the lightest and stiffest architecture in the segment, the 2017 Pacifica boasts 37 minivan “firsts,” including an available plug-in hybrid powertrain. Reportedly, Chrysler will continue to use LX, Touring, Touring-L, Limited, and Limited Platinum trim levels, dropping the “S” version and adding a Touring-L Plus trim level. The Pacifica Hybrid will have Limited or Limited Platinum trim.
With no more than a glance, it is obvious that the new Chrysler Pacifica takes its design cues from the midsize Chrysler 200 sedan. Well, except for the hockey stick rear side window treatment, which is reminiscent of the 1993 Toyota Camry station wagon.
In any case, the shapely sheetmetal produces “class-leading” aerodynamics, according to Chrysler, and it retains its deftly hidden sliding side door tracks, which run just beneath the rear side windows. A set of 20-in. aluminum wheels is available, and the Pacifica Hybrid is distinguished by a unique grille treatment, bespoke wheel designs, a charging port located just in front of the driver’s door, and appropriate badges.
Chrysler says the new Pacifica will be available in 10 colors, including an exclusive hue for the hybrid model called Silver Teal Pearl Coat.
Packaged to seat up to 8 people, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is equipped with redesigned Stow ‘n Go seats that are easier to use, the automaker says. To refresh your memory, Stow ‘n Go second- and third-row seats fold down into the van’s floor, which means it is never necessary to remove the seats in order to take advantage of the Pacifica’s maximum cargo capacity of 140.5 cu. ft.
This year, Chrysler introduces Stow n’ Go Assist. To use it, press a button on the Pacifica’s B-pillar to power the front seats forward and out of the way so that the second-row seats can be dropped into their storage wells. Press the button again to return the front seats to their original positions.
Chrysler has also worked to suppress unwanted wind and road noise, employing active noise cancellation and other efforts to create what it characterizes as a “vault-like” level of quietude.
Among the announced options and upgrades to the 2017 Pacifica, Chrysler confirms leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and a triple-panel panoramic roof. The Pacifica is also available with hands-free power sliding side doors and a hands-free power rear liftgate.
Under the Hood
Equipped with 2-step variable valve lift timing, cooled exhaust-gas recirculation, and weight-reduction efforts, a next-generation version of Chrysler’s 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V-6 engine is standard in the 2017 Pacifica. It makes 287 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, and shortly after the van goes on sale the engine will receive an automatic start/stop system designed to help conserve fuel. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard, operated using a twist knob on the dashboard.
The new Pacifica Hybrid is equipped with a plug-in powertrain that provides an estimated 30 miles of driving range on electricity. When the battery reaches a minimum state of charge, the V-6 engine starts up and the van can continue its journey until the owner finds a gas station or an electrical outlet.
An Atkinson-cycle 3.6-liter V-6 making 248 horsepower is paired with a 16-kWh Lithium-ion battery and a new electrically variable transmission (EVT) with two electric motors. The battery is housed where the second-row Stow ‘n Go seats would usually hide, so that feature is not offered for the Pacifica Hybrid. Chrysler says the Pacifica Hybrid recharges in 2 hours using a 240-volt outlet. Plan at least triple that amount of time when using a standard household outlet.
Given its role as a family vehicle, one of the least appealing things about the old Town & Country minivan was its “Poor” rating in the small overlap frontal-impact crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). To resolve this, Chrysler says it employs additional high-strength steel in the Pacifica’s structure in order to ensure top crash-test ratings.
Got kids? The new Pacifica offers child safety seat LATCH anchors in five of the rear seating positions. Chrysler is also introducing new KeySense programmable key fobs, which work similar to Ford MyKey technology in that they allow the Pacifica’s owner to program one with specific vehicle speed and stereo volume limits, mute the audio system when passengers are not properly buckled up, block access to specific satellite radio stations, and more.
With the Pacifica, Chrysler is introducing more sophisticated technologies to its minivan. They include a 7-in. driver information display, Uconnect infotainment system with an 8.4-in. touch-screen display and Uconnect Access subscription services, and a couple of premium audio systems, the top choice by Harmon Kardon and equipped with 20 speakers.
A 360-degree camera system will also be available for the Pacifica, as well as a park-assist system that can autonomously steer the van into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. A new Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum also debuts for the Pacifica, mimicking a feature found in the Honda Odyssey.
To keep the kiddos mesmerized during the trip to Walley World, a new Uconnect Theater rear-seat entertainment system includes dual high-definition 10-in. touch-screen displays, upon which your offspring can watch movies, play games, or stream content through the Uconnect Access Wi-Fi hot spot.