I've mentioned before, but I often get surprised with the cars we get to review here on TestDrive. This 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited is one of them. I talked briefly in our episode of TestDrive Spotlight on this minivan that I was scheduled for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio but had a vision about this Pacifica on my way to pick it up, and sure enough I was driving home with this due to unforeseen circumstances outside of my control. But I wasn't upset, because this minivan is pretty incredible.
Some people might feel I'm not a fan of Mopar after our haunting episode featuring the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk at the start of this year, and I'm still reminded of it every time I get behind the wheel of a different Chrysler product. But unlike the Grand Cherokee, this Pacifica is seriously good, and might be a serious contender for buyers looking at large three-row mid-size crossover SUVs, especially if you want a versatile and functional vehicle that does more than just haul 7 people around.
The 2018 Pacifica Limited's $59,725.00 Canadian MSRP might be a bit of a shock to some, and it was for us. But Chrysler has been trying to position itself as a luxury marque for quite some time now. While the Pacifica isn't really a luxury experience, it certainly has some features we've come to expect in this price range. First off the exterior is as feature-rich as the price tag suggests. HID headlights and LED fog and running lights give this car great visibility at night along with a really nice exterior design overall. Front and rear parking sensors compliment the 360º camera system, along with a park-assist feature to help you find parallel and perpendicular parking spots.
The rear doors are power opening and closing, along with a power lift-gate out back. These are common features to find in the minivan world, but work well as they've matured.
The interior is where this feature heavy, and option heavy, car gets interesting. We find the usual type of safety technology for the driver, including lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and collision prevention. It also has that rear backup prevention system which seems to work about the same as it did on the Grand Cherokee. The seats are all nappa leather with heat and ventilation for the front, and heat for the second row. The dashboard is also nicely appointed with stitched leather and the large 8.4" Uconnect 4.0 navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. We did notice the centre dash reminds us a lot of the 2018 Buick Enclave's interior.
The centre and rear rows each share a climate zone, and the rear windows all have manual sun shades, though we found the centre row's shades to be rather small for the size of the windows. The major features of this car is the Stow 'N Go system, allowing you to completely hide the centre and rear rows into the floor. We found the seats to work incredibly well, with easy stowing operation and fantastic interior space when folded up. The centre row allows for additional storage under the floor when the seats are upright, and a deep trunk space in the back allows you to store a lot more with 7 passengers than you'd get in a mid to large size crossover SUV.
The Stow 'N Vac system also worked well, although it's not a true replacement for a good shop vac. The built-in vacuum is located in the centre of the car, and we were able to clean all corners of the interior of the Pacifica with ease. The vacuum is ideal for on-the-go messes, if you go to the beach and want to get the sand cleaned up quickly, or if a child makes a mess in the back with their Cheerios. The filtered waste bin in the trunk is easily cleaned and is a nice feature not found on every minivan in this segment.
Finally, the big feature, and one of the expensive ones, the Uconnect Theatre for $2,495.00, adding two 10" screens to the centre row allowing for streaming content, HDMI input, BluRay and DVD, and USB inputs. The disc and USB media are controlled by the front input, allowing parents to easily swap in new movies on the go, and parents can also view and manage the rear screens from the front, say if a movie ends and needs to be reset. The HDMI input allowed us to connect our Xbox One S with ease to the back, and played through the harmon/kardon audio system found on the Pacifica.
There are also built-in games available with the rear entertainment system, allowing people to play against each other in games like tic-tac-toe, checkers, bingo, and more. A Are We There Yet? game is great to keep kids updated on longer trips, and sudoku can keep older players entertained. We found the thought and care put into this rear entertainment system was above and beyond what we've found on other vehicles, and is currently the best family-oriented experiences for centre-row passengers on a vehicle we've tested.
When it comes to power and handling, this FWD V6 engine produced enough power to get us going. There's no sport mode or paddle shifters, which is actually nice. Most car makers are throwing sport modes and manual shifters as an after thought, and often is useless for the cars they're on. We had no issues getting on to the highways or passing other traffic, and found the ride to be quite smooth, and a lot more car-like than larger crossover SUVs. That original concept of a minivan to have car-like ride and handling isn't lost on the Pacifica.
We also found it's overall size to feel a lot smaller when driving around, again more inline with a car experience. We were very impressed with the Pacifica's overall ride and think this really could be a serious option for buyers looking to get something that can fit a larger family along with the flexibility of that Stow 'N Go system. While the Pacifica is only offered with one engine and as front-wheel drive, it still should handle well enough during the winter months with a good set of winter tires.
You can watch our full episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited here: