Some people have really negative reactions to minivans that I’ve never really understood. My neighbor told me that he and his wife had that in their wedding vows. “No minivans. Ever!” I drove one for over 9 years as my daily driver. I have two kids. I do most if not all of the kid hauling. When the kids were little it just made sense. Sliding doors that I can open and close from the front seat when they aren’t old enough to know how. Sliding doors that I can open and close from the front seat when they are older and know how but won’t because they don’t want to. Twin dvd players. Huge windshield with great visibility. Room to carry up to eight people very comfortably along with stuff. A third row that’s a real third row. Where people can actually sit. What’s not to like. Oh. They aren’t cool. Says who?? My neighbor I guess. He’s cool. Or at least he thinks he is.
Well . . . I like minivans I actually miss mine sometimes. I have a lot of friends who have them and they love them. So I’m always a little bit excited when I get one to test. I hadn’t been in Chrysler’s version of the family hauler in a while so I was excited to see what was new since the last time I had one.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus (fka as the Town & Country) is pretty loaded to begin with at a base price of $37,895. Mine had some cool options that are definitely worth looking at: hands free sliding doors and lift gate for $795; tire and wheel group for $895 which gives you 18-inch wheels, better tires and a better suspension; Advanced Safety Group for $1,995; 8 passenger seating for $495 (which adds the middle removable seat in the second row); Uconnect 8.4 nav , HD radio and SiriusXM for $695 and with a destination charge of $995 a fairly loaded price of $43,765.
So let’s get to the good, and there’s lots of it. The Advanced Safety Group adds some goodies that are definitely worth the extra $1,995. ParkSense front and rear park assist with stop; 360 degree surround view camera system; parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop; adaptive cruise with stop and go; full speed forward collision warning plus; lane departure warning plus; rain sensing wipers; auto high beams; and advanced brake assist round out the package. That’s a lot of safety technology for $1,995. I don’t think it was missing anything. The Pacifica Touring had more safety tech on it then the $50,000 luxury sedan I was driving the following week. I didn’t tell my neighbor, but I think that’s pretty cool.
Chrysler has shifted (pun intended) to an electronic shifter knob like a lot of manufactures have eschewing the old mechanical gear shifter for a ton more space. When you get rid of the old mechanical shifter you open up a ton of space below the dash. The Pacifica has multiple cup holders, side pockets, sliding drawers to fit tablets and more. When you are driving a minivan you are usually hauling a lot of kids and kids equal lots of stuff. And if you have lots of stuff you need lots of places to put it. There was room in the front for my iPhone, my laptop, my mega coffee, spare change, a small note book, some snacks, the kids toys, etc. There are also USB ports galore. One in the front, a USB and HDMI port on both sides in the second row and one of each in the third row. There are screens on the backs of both seats for the second row to enjoy and they come installed with a bunch of simple games. Tic tac toe, hang man, Sudoku, the license plate game to name a few. My kids are 11 and 13 and they usually fight over the front seat. In fact, my kids pretty much fight over everything. In the Pacifica they both got in the back and played tic tac toe and other games. They didn’t fight. They didn’t argue. I wasn’t sure what was happening.
Not one really cares about performance in a minivan. In the nine years that I owned mine, no one asked me how much horsepower it had. Ever. No one asked me what my 0-60 was. So there really isn’t much need to get into it here. Suffice it to say that the 3.6L V6 24-valve VVT engine matted to a 9-speed FWD automatic transmission was sufficient to pilot this kid hauler through town. See? You don’t care either. The only thing I will say about performance is the engine and transmission are appropriately matched for the weight and size of the vehicle. It’s a little bit thirsty at 22 combined, 18 city and 28 highway, but if you compare the mileage to that that you would receive with a large SUV, which is what most people buy who refuse to buy minivans, it isn’t that thirsty at all. By the way my cool neighbor has two huge SUV’s – average mpg of his fleet? Probably around 16.
Chrysler first introduced Stow’n Go seating in the 2005 Town & Country in a mid-cycle refresh of the popular minivan. One thing I really liked about my minivan is I could haul a lot of large things if I needed to. What I didn’t like is I didn’t have Stow’n Go. My rear seat folded into the floor. Pretty simple. But I had to haul all three seats in the second row out and put them somewhere. They are heavy and big. It was a pain. Not so with Stow’n go. The third row drops into the floor as do the two in the second row. The optional third seat in the second row that gives you room for that 8th passenger has to be manually removed, but most people I know never haul 8 people and just leave that in the garage for when they need it anyway. So in essence all seats are Stow’n go. You can have the entire van (other then the front two seats) totally flat and into the floor in less then 60 seconds. Comes in super handy when you are picking up your vintage Ms. Pac Man machine.
My test Pacifica had the $795 hands free sliding doors and lift gate. You are supposed to make a kicking motion at a specified spot under each door to get it to open without using your hands. It took some practice to get it right, but after I learned where the spot was it was pretty handy. I leave it up to you to determine whether its worth $795 to open your doors without putting your bags down.
Stow’n Go. Dual Screens. Tons of Safety Tech. Tons of Storage. Hands free doors. Seating for 8. A price tag in the lower 40’s. There isn’t much missing from this family hauler and with a lot of minivans in the upper 40’s once loaded, the Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus at $43,765 is definitely worth a look.