2018 Chrysler Pacifica

set the cruise control and go

. . . and go and go and go.


I think I mentioned in a previous post that at one time the 3 vehicles that occupied my family’s driveway was a 1981 Buick Century wagon, 1985 Nissan Maxima wagon, and a 1988 Plymouth Grand Voyager.  From that moment on, many people said I was destined to have a lot of children since I really liked driving all three!  The Pacifica was no exception in my love of driving big haulers, but compared to the last few rentals, it took some get accustomed to the handling or actually lack of handling.  Notice the unusual placement of the blog magnets because the body panels behind the front fenders were all aluminum saving a lot of weight for the already heavily worked V6.  Without the use of aluminum in the body, the Pacifica would easily become the heaviest minivan on the market.


I know I’m in the minority when I say the Pacifica is a pretty sharp looking vehicle for a van or anything of the 4-wheeled variety, especially since the hideous Nissan Quest is in the same class.


But let’s not forget where Chrysler started 34 years ago when the company was all about function over form.  Thankfully, wired hubcaps on whitewall tires, faux woodgrain sides, and tacked on luggage racks are a thing of the not-so-attractive past.

20181116_140112The front end is obviously a lot of styled sharing with the 200 and if you’ve seen road test reviews of the 200 in the past few years, that’s not a flattering comparison.


All the Pacificas feature a 3.6 liter V6 engine with a 9-speed transmission pumping out 287hp.  That’s more than double the gears of our 1988 version and almost double the horsepower also.  The transmission had a few odd shifting hiccups during the day, so hopefully that’s not a sign of bad things to come.    I’ve read about some problems in the same 9-speed transmissions that Jeep uses in the Cherokee line up, but hopefully for Pacifica owners that’s a Jeep problem only.  The 0-60 run was an impressive 7.3 seconds. Not necessarily an impressive time, but that it was so quiet and effortless that it seemed much faster even at nearly 6000RPM.


I was planning on taking 4 people to dinner on my night with Chrysler’s Town & Country replacement, but turned out to be only two.  Both passengers mentioned how comfortable the seats were and one said that this was the most comfortable [front] seat yet.  Full disclosure:  she has a SUV and is more accustomed to the high seating position of a van or SUV than in any of my previous sedan rentals.  The middle row seats are easy to stow away for cargo use as soon as the user discovers that the seat back going down first and then the seat bottom folds forward to the front is the only option.  Customers who rent vans are likely to drive 1000+ miles in a week, so it makes sense to want the most comfortable cabin possible.


The 3-across bench seat in the rear lacks the 4 arm rests of the middle row, but the seats themselves are nearly identical.



The rear seats are much easier to collapse into the floorboard with well numbered rip cords.  These seats are power operated in the top trimmed Limited.


I didn’t look closely at this button as I was looking around the cargo area for extra gadgets.  I thought maybe it’d collapse the seats, so I just press it and 3 beeps later, the tailgate is closing on me.  This is the first vehicle I’ve seen that has the rear hatch open/close button inside instead of on the hatch itself.  I think that might be a bad idea with curious little hands sitting in the rear most seats.  I’d have to assume this button wouldn’t work at all unless the van is in park.  Otherwise, this would be a worse safety issue than the electronic door switches on the Continental of 2 weeks ago.


From the “I never want to have to use this department” is the very unsettling spare tire directly below the internal power gate switch.  The tire itself was an incredibly narrow donut with zero air pressure in it.  If the center mounted inflator doesn’t work, using the DC plug in directly across, you are helpless.  I know automakers are desperate to save weight and space, but this seems extreme by any account.  At least Chrysler hasn’t taken the extreme measures that Kia has as they do not have donuts at all in their cars, just a Fix-a-Flat like sealant.  Notice the white gas funnel at the top of the donut – that’s for a gas can if you run out before you get to an actual gas pump.  The Ford Fusion hybrid from several weeks ago among others now have capless fuel filler systems, but to make it work the secondary internal cap has to be pushed in.  Most gas can spouts aren’t strong enough or angled correctly to do that.


I really liked the royal blue light theme in the Pacifica on the dash and center stack.  Maybe that’s Chrysler’s subtle way of saying the Pacifica is cool?  Nah, that’s a little stretch.  My only gripes were the heated seats and heated steering wheel had to be activated via the touch screen instead of a much easier dash mounted button.  I was glad that the auto stop/start could be deactivated (next to the radio volume button), but it had to be done at every engine start-up.


The dashboard is simple with only a few display changes possible.   Two separate trip odometers, MPH display, radio station display, and a compass.  I’m sure there’s a lot of other display options with the loaded Limited, but most notable is the detailed fuel and temperature gauges.  On the version I had, the marks were in tenths and the Limited trim had a full on detailed digital display.   The fog lights had very little benefit.


Things of note:
MSRP is $27K to $42K and this example sits at a tad over $32,500
V6 engine very eager to hit the mysterious unmarked redline.
Achieved a meager 22mpg within the EPA stated 19CITY/28HWY.
4300lbs empty means fully loaded the V6 will have a lot of work to do, yet still the lightest minivan on the market.
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
Unless I could get one of our maxed out loaded Limited series, I wouldn’t rush to rent the Pacifica again until I can scope out a similar Sienna first.  But it’d be very capable hauling 6 or 7 people in comfort.  I’d be nervous about buying a Pacifica due to many reported transmission and electronic gremlins plaguing some of the current models.  I’m curious to see what percentage of Pacificas need or have already had major transmission work at 100K miles.  Our 1988 Grand Voyager was nearly worthless with 97K miles and 2 replace power steering pumps and a bad A/C compressor.  In my automotive realm, that’s completely unacceptable for a well maintained and nearly pampered vehicle.
Chrysler if you’re listening . . .
Thank you for not putting in the sport shifting paddles on the steering wheel!  It was also refreshing not to see a cabin full of blank buttons.
On a scale from 1-100: (1- long live the ’88 Voyager! / 100- air mattress and live in it)
Buy it now – 30
Buy it later at half the current price – 45
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 35
Oooh and ahhh factor – 20
Recommended to rent – 85

2 thoughts on “2018 Chrysler Pacifica

  1. Totally agree on the nuisance of having to disable auto start/stop every time you start the vehicle. Interesting that they’ve included a fuel funnel. The G1 NSX has an inflatable spare, too (mounted up front, of course). I’ve never tried plugging in the air compressor that came with mine but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work). I wonder what the feeling was among drivers of the “old” Pacifica (that more crossover-looking thing) when the name was moved to the former Town & Country. Long live wire wheel covers and whitewall tires!


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