You wouldn't expect a group of dyed-in-the-wool car enthusiasts to bemoan the loss of a minivan, but anything's possible in 2018.
After the last 12-and-change months with our long-term 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, it's time to bid it farewell. We covered nearly 30,000 miles across multiple state lines, and whether we were hauling dogs, cargo from the in-laws, camera gear or children, the Pacifica was able to fit into every niche we needed it to. It wasn't perfect, especially toward the end, but it took our lickings and kept on ticking.
When it came to family stuff, the Pacifica excelled. Its Stow-N-Go seats meant our video producer Nick Miotke could quickly adjust seats to make room for his child's sports gear, but since it's a minivan, there was always enough room for his son to be secure in his booster seat. And thanks to the Pacifica's rear-seat entertainment system, most of those trips were nice and quiet. His son enjoyed hitting the button for the automatic sliding doors, and he claims that his wife continues to compare the Pacifica to every other vehicle that graces his driveway -- and the van keeps winning.
As for me, I hauled dogs and junk, not people, but the result was no different. Having a completely flat load floor meant that, when I drove home to Chicago to adopt a second dog, I was able to give him a fully flat place to splay out on the long drive home. Popping the seats up in short order meant I didn't have to spend half an hour post-hauling to put the seats back in the car.
For the last few months of its tenure in Detroit, the Pacifica spent part of its time serving as a video production vehicle -- part warming center in the winter, part camera-hauler extraordinaire. Again, the Stow-N-Go seats proved great for accommodating loads of various shapes and sizes. It kept us comfortable on trips to and from Gingerman Raceway on the other side of Michigan, thanks to some cushy leather seats and an infotainment system that included satellite radio.
Generally, the ride quality was comfortable. The Pacifica's not exactly light, but its 4,330-pound curb weight meant it stayed planted to the road. Bumps rarely made it all the way through from the road to the seats, and despite its slab-sided nature, it had little trouble with crosswinds and provided an average amount of wind and road noise.
In terms of fuel economy, our Pacifica's 3.6-liter V6 slurped its way through 1,279.157 gallons of gas over 27,498 miles for a net fuel economy of 21.4 mpg. That might seem low, but it's just a shade under the EPA estimate of 22 mpg for combined driving (19 city, 28 highway). Considering just how much time this thing spent idling in the winter keeping video crews and hosts warm between takes, that's really not too bad. I personally saw highway fuel economy as high as 30 mpg at a sustained 75 mph.
While the 2017 Pacifica's starting price of $28,995 is pretty well on the money families who need something big and capable, it's the as-tested price that hurt. Our tester was essentially fully loaded -- rear-seat entertainment, leather interior, etc. -- and it rang up at $48,950. Most people likely aren't ordering their vans the way we ordered ours, and that's probably for the better. Other competitors offer even pricier models, so the Pacifica isn't alone in the woods here.
When it came to driving, I found the Pacifica's lane-departure warning to be excessively touchy, yelping at me for even the slightest deviation and occasionally correcting quicker than it really needed to. The A-pillars also caused some consternation, since they were pretty chunky and, combined with large side mirrors, occasionally obscured visibility when creeping out from side streets to main roads.
As with any other family vehicle (or just about any other car on the road), the cargo area and door panels have heapin' helpings of plastic. In the case of the Pacifica, they're soft plastic, so after a few thousand miles of dogs milling about and camera cases sliding to and fro, the interior was covered in gouges that simple polishing couldn't erase. The leather, thankfully, remained scar-free.
The van also ended up needing unscheduled service a few times. The first time was nature's fault -- a giant rock cracked the windshield, and a lack of aftermarket windshield replacements meant ordering a new piece of glass from Chrysler to the tune of $800. Then, our third-row folding seats seized up and started leaking gear oil around the seat anchors, which was fixed under warranty.
The final trip to the dealer was to address an awful clunking noise from the front suspension that didn't mess with drivability so much as driver. It, too, was fixed under warranty, and we also addressed the tires at that time, since one had a blister and another had a slow leak. Do yourself a favor: Remove the mediocre-at-best Falken Zeix tires that come from the factory and swap on some better all-season rubber from Continental, Michelin or Pirelli.
The bottom line
For its few faults, the Pacifica performed admirably under Roadshow stewardship. It handled everything that was thrown at it (except for the rock, but we didn't throw that), and it gave us little other than confidence and comfort. It wasn't perfect, but no car is, and regardless, we walked away impressed.
: Roadshow's latest long-term sedan joins our California team to bask in warm weather.
: We sing the body electric for a full year, starting in New York.