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Chrysler’s Pacifica with All-Wheel Drive: THE MINIVAN AS CROSSOVER

Car Reviews

Chrysler’s Pacifica with All-Wheel Drive: THE MINIVAN AS CROSSOVER

Chrysler’s Pacifica with All-Wheel Drive:


Crossovers are all the rage, given their high driving position and their extra cargo space, which always comes in handy.  Well, guess what? Those attributes have been around for decades in the guise of minivans.  That’s right, the minivan, the car no one desires to own even though the vehicles are perfectly designed to make one’s life easier.  The minivan is ridiculously roomy, with a low load floor, three rows comfortable for adults, magic sliding doors, and so many fantastic characteristics.  

As you can tell, I happen to be an unabashed fan of the minivan, a vehicle that I begged my wife to purchase after our daughter was born.  She categorically refused and we ended up with a large SUV. (Some day I’ll get over it.) And yet, now when she gets to drive a new minivan, she has nothing but nice things to say about it. With that, I still don’t think she could bring herself to actually own one. She drives a pickup.

A few weeks ago I test drove a Maximum Steel Metallic Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD that came with quilted Caramel Nappa leather seats along with a so-2021 price tag of almost $55K.  I loved it.  The Pinnacle trim is the highest level for the Pacifica minivan series, roughly $18,000 over the base model.  It boasts an all-weather capable, seamless and fully automatic all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that the press release dares to “bring on the snow!”  

The Pacifica offers only one powertrain choice, a 287 hp, 3.6 liter V6 engine mated to nine-speed automatic transmission. I didn’t have the opportunity to drive with a minivan full of kids, which the Pacifica in real life is bound to do, but power was always there when I wanted it.  Fuel economy numbers are reasonable for such a large vehicle, getting an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.  

Chrysler went all out to give the Pinnacle trim the most luxurious interior amongst the minivan segment. Unfortunately, the minivan segment has shrunk to only four competitors.  The Pinnacle boasts a beautiful interior that may have to withstand the daily indignities that befall a typical minivan, such as sticky juice box spills, scattered Cheerios and whatever else a carload of children can devise.  Luckily, minivans are designed from the ground up to take a lot of interior abuse.  

New for the 2021 Pacifica is the FamCAM interior camera, which projects a high-definition image and allows the driver to keep close tabs on action happening in the back.  This includes a clear view of rear-facing child seat occupants, a split view display and a unique “zoom-to-seat” capability.  It’s one of those features that as a parent you can really appreciate.  The FamCAM eliminates the habit of constantly craning your neck to check on your child.  The camera’s views are accessible through the 10.1-inch touchscreen and allow the driver to quickly click and zoom in. There’s even a memory setting function that keeps the camera in the most recent position to limit driver distraction.  It’s very clever and a great feature.

I could go on and on about the advantages of driving a minivan over a similarly priced crossover, but I think you get the idea.  Let’s put it this way: If you want to drive a crossover that’s better than the rest of the pack, test drive a minivan. If you don’t care what your neighbors think, a minivan might just be in your future. Enjoy the ride.

Steve is a veteran automotive journalist and former head of Ford Public Relations in its South Central region. He’s a native New Yorker who fell in love with a Texan (and Texas) over 20 years ago. Steve’s been living here happily ever since. His current automotive ‘want’ is an early 3-Series convertible, while his daily driver is a 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

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