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Chrysler Pacifica: The Van of the Hour

January 2017, by Tariq Kamal - Also by this author

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is a brand-new minivan that replaces the Town & Country, which, along with its Volkswagen Routan cousin, has been discontinued. The new vehicle bears no relation to the ill-fated 2003 to 2009 crossover SUV of the same name.

Chrysler will continue to produce the venerable Dodge Caravan (and its fleet-ready rebadge, the Ram C/V Tradesman), which hasn’t been redesigned since 2008, as long as sales remain strong. But the Pacifica — with its high-end styling, competitive pricing, and intriguing plug-in hybrid variant — could finally put the Caravan out to pasture.

Built to compete with the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, the four-door, six-, seven-, or eight-passenger Pacifica matches its rivals’ combined city/highway fuel efficiency score of 22 miles per gallon (mpg). The new vehicle is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 287 horsepower (hp) and 262 pound-feet of torque (lb.-ft.) and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Specs for 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Specs for 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

The plug-in configuration adds two electric motors and a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack designed to provide enough pure-electric power for a 30-mile run. EPA testing resulted in an equivalent fuel rating of 84 mpg, exceeding Chrysler’s own estimates. Charging takes two hours with a 240-volt connection and 14 hours with a 120-volt outlet.

The gasoline-powered Pacifica comes in base LX, Touring, Touring L, Touring L Plus, and Limited trims while the plug-in gets two variants: Premium and Platinum.

Standard equipment on both vehicles includes the Uconnect infotainment system, Bluetooth, six-speaker stereo on a 5-inch touchscreen, keyless ignition and entry, three-zone climate control, electric parking brake, and rearview camera. Chrysler’s signature “Stow ’n Go” middle seat is standard on the gas model but not available on the hybrid, which makes do with removable captain’s chairs.

Upgrades and option packages include safety equipment such as adaptive cruise control, forward-collision and lane alerts, and parallel and perpendicular parking assist. Available features include a dual-screen rear entertainment system, hands-free sliding rear doors and liftgate, dual sunroof, and built-in vacuum cleaner.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is in showrooms now. Prices start at $28,595 for the gasoline-powered XL and $43,090 for a Premium-grade plug-in hybrid. When comparing the two powertrains, fleet managers would be wise to include the $7,500 federal tax deduction (plus any state and local incentives), which is available to hybrid buyers.

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