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Chrysler Pacifica holds fuel-economy fire to Honda's feet

Thanks to a host of upgrades and a whole new body, Chrysler's former Town & Country now competes with a segment stalwart for best-in-class fuel economy.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica
This has nothing in common with the Pacifica crossover that Chrysler sold several years ago.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Minivans are not a thrifty bunch of vehicles when it comes to fuel consumption. Thanks to large bodies atop stretched car frames, six-cylinder engines and creature comforts out the wazoo, they're a bit thirsty. Chrysler's old Town & Country was one of the worst performers, but its successor is quite the opposite.

EPA estimates for the 2017 Pacifica's fuel economy just came out, and it's good news all around. The new gas-powered Pacifica achieves 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. It ties the current segment leader, the Honda Odyssey, in both highway and combined figures -- and it's just 1 mpg shy in the city.

Chrysler attributes the 12-percent improvement in emm-pee-gees to several factors. Its minivan no longer resembles a series of taped-together cardboard boxes, for starters. The company also upgraded its Pentastar V-6 and attached that to a new nine-speed automatic. Combine that with nearly 250 pounds of weight savings, and you've got a better-performing minivan.

The Pacifica's fuel-sipping Cinderella story is only going to get better once the plug-in-hybrid variant comes to market, as well. Chrysler's hoping for an 80 mpge rating and an all-electric range of 30 miles. If it achieves its goals, it will be the first minivan to dabble in electrification. I doubt it'll be the last.