Awww yeah, Bark Rental Review back in the hizzy! I’m so relieved that I don’t have to try to take decent photos. And what better way to kick it off than with the lot poison that is currently making CDJR dealers all across America sick? That’s right, today we’re talking about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. I’ve had at least 3 different CDJR dealers in 3 different states tell me that the Pacifica is an overpriced floorplan anchor that they cannot move at any price.
“Nobody knows what the fuck a ‘Pacifica’ is,” they tell me. “I don’t know why they couldn’t just call it the Town & Country.” Then they mumble about the huge sticker price—although the Pacifica starts at around $28k, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with a Monroney under 40 large on a lot—and they ramble on about the death of the Chrysler brand (another topic for another time).
However, they’re missing one thing about the Pacifica. It’s quite good. No, better than good. It’s brilliant.
In fact, if I were to be asked to travel from coast-to-coast, Alex Roy-style, why, the Pacifica would be my very first choice. No joke. Why, you may ask? Let me count the ways.
First of all, surprisingly, this might be the best application yet of the Pentastar motor. Tuned for a so-close-to-300-it-might-as-well-be-300 287 horsepower and mated with the much-maligned 9-speed, the Pacifica is fucking fast. Fo rill. It will light up the fronts and squeal its way from naught to 60 in something that feels like just above 7 seconds. The low-end torque of the Pentastar inspired a fair bit of confidence each time I had to turn left from a dead stop into Atlanta traffic.
And while one doesn’t expect performance-style handling from a minivan, the Pacifica is not afraid of a curvaceous on-ramp or quick left turn through a yellow light. The ride is firm enough that there is minimal body roll through corners and curves, but soft enough to provide a pleasant cruising experience at other times.
Not only that, freeway driving is just straight-up simple. The power is available throughout the band, making 70-85 passing a breeze. And even though the Pacifica is a large vehicle, it drives like a much smaller one—it feels smaller than my Flex, to be certain. Visibility is excellent, both front and rear, and the side mirrors provided a clear view of surrounding vehicles.
Road noise is kept to a minimum. The Nexen tires are so quiet and yet so responsive that the best compliment I can give them is that I never thought of them once, which is unusual for me in a passenger vehicle. When I did step out of the cabin for a fuel stop, I was surprised to see that they were not Michelin/Bridgestone/BF Goodrich makes.
The driver’s seating is very good, allowing for 120 minute stints with no discomfort whatsoever. I found it easy and quick to adjust the seat to a position that worked for me.
Fuel mileage was about what I expected—a combined 20.4 MPG between Atlanta city driving and highway driving between the ATL and Columbus, Ga. Not bad for a vehicle of this size, and considering the rather heavy foot that I typically have, I expect that normal use would return something in the neighborhood of 22-23 combined.
I didn’t go full Alex Dykes and measure everything, but the cabin feels vast and spacious—even if there isn’t any more space than the competition, it feels like it’s more well organized. The 2nd row captain chairs are a vast improvement over what was found in the T&C (full disclosure—my mother-in-law has a 2005 Town & Country which I drive on occasion with the kiddos). Maneuvering to the third row does not require one to be a circus performer, either. There’s plenty of room between the captain’s chairs for one to make his way to the back of the bus.
As with all FCA reviews that I’ve done, I must repeat my utter fascination with and love for the Uconnect infotainment system. It’s simple to use, easy to read with my old eyes, and the associated sound system in the Pacifica is good enough for any but the most seasoned audiophiles to enjoy. I would like to have the option of using Apple CarPlay, but I don’t have extreme heartburn over its absence. The only drag about doing rental reviews is that I never get to use the navigation features of the cars, as every single rental agency disables them. Apple maps through the media functionality just doesn’t work as well as you’d like it to—I never found a way to get the volume of the navigation directions equal with the music.
Subjectively, I find the Pacifica to be a handsome car, superior to the Kia Sedona and on par with the Honda Odyssey. There’s a certain contour to the sides that suggests that this minivan was actually styled, rather than just produced. Certainly no man wishes for a minivan, but were I to find myself behind the wheel of a Pacifica for a week—as I did with this rental—I would have no reason to feel self-conscious about driving one (yes, I know that you’re so manly that you don’t care and you’ve been happily driving a 2003 Nissan Quest for years).
Oh, shit, I forgot to say something bad. Um. Let’s think. I didn’t like that gray color of the exterior. And the high-profile tires look a bit cheap on the smaller wheel sizes. That’s all I’ve got.
Overall, the Pacifica gets a solid 4.5/5 rating for me. I have no quantifiable reason for this rating. It just feels right. Much like the Pacifica itself. And the good news is that Chrysler has started throwing cash on the hood—at the time of this review, $2,250 plus 0% over 60 months is available on all new Pacificas.
So if you’re in the market for a minivan, I have a feeling that your local CDJR dealer will be more than motivated to help you get into one.