Named anew Pacifica—ironically one of the first crossovers, but released before the market was ready for such machines—it has confident lines that don’t try to ape SUVs, a flexibly arrange, generally high quality interior, and class-leading driving dynamics (at least until the all-new Honda Odyssey).
Obviously a low-end version based on the paucity of bling and smaller wheels, the test, Touring model gave an honest representation of the innate goodness of the platform. Stow’n Go seating, which folds flat into the floor, is as useful as ever, and now more comfortable for actual humans to sit on, and the driving position for the pilot is upright and spacious. Plastic moldings are of consistently high quality, but the cheap feeling, manual climate controls and tiny monochrome infotainment screen grate. It is also hard, even after a week behind the wheel, to remember which one of the myriad twist knobs is for the shifter, temp, fan speed, or other function, so haphazard is their arrangement.
As mentioned, the Chrysler is a superb steer, besting most crossovers that buyers seemingly can’t get enough of. The Pacifica is fast, thanks to its 3.6-liter, 287hp V6 being paired to a 9-speed transmission that actually seems to have sensibly chosen gear ratios for real-world use. It leaps off the line, does 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds, and doesn’t run out of puff even when loaded with peeps. It also corners in a composed, flat fashion, resists brake dive and acceleration squat and has an excellent ride. Part of that is due those tall-sidewalled tires, but carefully honed suspension settings seem to play a bigger part. Braking is confident and the Chrysler resists noise—both road and wind—very well, not a given in large, commodious vehicles that can suffer resonances.
While the Pacifica is priced right in the heart of the market for vehicles in general, especially for the carrying capacity, a few grand more spent for better infotainment and climate control would help cement its already high value quotient.
EPA ratings: 18/28mpg; 22mpg combined
0-60mph: 6.7 seconds
Price as tested: $33,475
Contact Isaac Bouchard for help saving time, money and hassle when buying or leasing one at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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