The Chrysler Pacifica, as well as its minivan brothers from other mothers, may never get the credit it deserves for being the preeminent family-friendly utility vehicle in the age of the age of the SUV. Chrysler even goes so far as to claim its minivan can hold up to 60 gallons of milk, redefining what it means to go from zero to 60. The Pacifica is a function of convenience, and it’s the only van clever enough to tuck its second-row seats into its floor to create more space for carrying cargo. The Pacifica is available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and it is the only minivan in the segment to offer a plug-in-hybrid powertrain. The standard powertrain is 287-hp V-6 that pairs with nine-speed automatic transmission. This combination makes the Pacifica reasonably efficient on the highway, even if it doesn’t push Chrysler’s people mover about with the urgency of rivals such as the Kia Carnival or Honda Odyssey.
What’s New for 2023?
Our favorite minivan returns this year without any major changes or updates. Chrysler’s made few updates to the Pacifica since refreshing it for 2021.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The midrange Touring L offers the best mix of features and value as it adds a host of additional niceties over the base Touring model. Standard items include a heated steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery, heated front seats, and 18-inch wheels. We’re fine sticking with front-wheel drive, but we understand some consumers may want the additional peace of mind this van’s optional all-wheel-drive system offers. We’d suggest staying with the standard 3.5-liter V-6, though, as we had a few reliability hiccups with our long-term Pacifica Hybrid during its 40,000-mile stay.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
It’s not the quickest minivan we’ve tested, but the front-wheel-drive Pacifica is far from sluggish (it reaches 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, about midpack in terms of performance) and feels plenty peppy around town. In gas-only guise, the Pacifica packs a 287-hp 3.6-liter V-6 and a nine-speed automatic transmission under its hood. The Pacifica Hybrid makes less total horsepower (only 260 ponies) from its 3.6-liter V-6 and two electric motors, which are backed by a 16.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In our testing, the Pacific Hybrid needed an additional 0.5 second to hit 60 mph relative to its more powerful kin.
More on the Pacifica Minivan
Towing and Payload Capacity
The maximum towing capacity for the Chrysler Pacifica is 3600 pounds. Chrysler doesn’t recommend towing with the Pacifica Hybrid.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
In addition to being space efficient, a minivan should also be fuel efficient. The Pacifica Limited we tested delivered an impressive 31 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route. According to the EPA, the Pacifica Hybrid can travel up to 33 miles on electric power and is rated at 84 MPGe combined. Around town, we matched the EPA’s 33-mile estimate. On the highway, the Pacifica Hybrid managed 23.4 miles of electric-only driving before the gasoline engine kicked on. For more information about the Pacifica’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Airy, spacious, and packed with cubbies, cupholders, slide-out bins, and connectivity, the Pacifica is big on the features that minivan buyers love. Fit, finish, and materials are all decent, but a few down-market plastic pieces lurk inside the cabin. Upscale Limited and Pinnacle models come with taller center consoles that blend more seamlessly with the dashboard, giving those trims a more SUV-like feel from behind the wheel. The fancy Pinnacle model comes with quilted-leather upholstery and even offers matching lumbar pillows for the second-row captain’s chairs—a feature we haven’t seen since the last time the ultra-luxurious Mercedes-Maybach S-class visited our office. The Pacifica’s standard Stow ‘n Go seats offer less padding than those of rivals. Blame the fact these chairs need to fold into the van’s floor. To make up for relinquishing the Stow ‘n Go second row in the Pacifica Hybrid (the battery pack takes up all the underfloor-storage space), Chrysler engineers added extra cushioning to the standard captain’s chairs. When it comes to hauling cargo, the Pacifica doesn’t disappoint. We managed to fit 53 of our carry-on suitcases inside with the second- and third-row seats stowed. A built-in vacuum cleaner is available as an option, but it occupies space that can otherwise be devoted to an optional mini-spare tire.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
Chrysler’s Uconnect 5 infotainment system displays on a glossy 10.1-inch touchscreen that’s framed by climate-control vents on the van’s dashboard. Uconnect 5 offers a reconfigurable home screen and Amazon Alexa integration. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, which can be connected wirelessly, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. An optional rear-seat entertainment system provides dual touchscreens to keep the kids placated and can be had with Amazon Fire TV, which provides access to movies and TV via embedded streaming apps. Up to 12 USB ports dot the Pacifica’s cabin, including some that are the USB-C type, which offer quicker charging speeds for smart devices.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Pacifica adds to its safety standing by offering nearly every conceivable driver-assistance feature available today. For more information about the Pacifica’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert Standard adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Chrysler offers a warranty package that is par for the class. The Kia Carnival does offer lengthier terms, but the Pacifica allows for longer use of the roadside-assistance plan. The Pacifica Hybrid model has a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on hybrid components.
Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles Hybrid components are covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door van
PRICE AS TESTED
$54,885 (base price: $39,535)
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
220 in3, 3605 cm3
287 hp @ 6400 rpm
262 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.8-in vented disc/13.3-in disc
Tires: Falken Ziex CT50 A/S, 245/50R-20 102V M+S
Wheelbase: 121.6 in
Length: 204.3 in
Width: 79.6 in
Height: 70.7 in
Passenger volume: 159 ft3
Cargo volume: 32 ft3
Curb weight: 4987 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.9 sec
100 mph: 22.0 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.1 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.9 sec
1/4 mile: 16.1 sec @ 87 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 111 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 183 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.4 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 17 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 20/17/25 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs