2021 Chrysler Pacifica
When it comes to hauling people and cargo, minivans are better than SUVs—a fact we wish more consumers would accept—and the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is our current favorite. The Pacifica is a thoughtfully designed, comfortable family van, and its eager driving dynamics are the icing on the cake. Both a regular V-6 engine and a plug-in hybrid powertrain are offered, and in our testing, each proved to be reasonably fuel-efficient. The second and third rows fold completely flat to transform the Pacifica into a spacious cargo van, making it perfect for hauling bulky items. The Pacifica’s entry-level models were rebranded as the Voyager, so we review those bargain models separately.
What’s New for 2021?
Chrysler has given its family-hauling Pacifica minivan a makeover for 2021, starting with new exterior styling that provides a slightly more SUV-like look than the outgoing model. The grille, exterior lighting elements, rear liftgate, and wheel designs have all been tweaked. All-wheel drive joins the options sheet—although some models will also be available with this feature—and the hybrid powertrain will be offered on more of Pacifica’s trims. Speaking of trims, the Touring L Plus model has been discontinued, and a new Pinnacle trim leapfrogs the Limited to become Pacifica’s top-spec model. Inside, the Pacifica gains a new 10.1-inch infotainment display with the latest Uconnect 5 interface, which offers Alexa integration, a customizable home screen, an available wireless connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an interior camera system to help keep tabs on kids in the back seats, and up to 12 different USB ports for charging devices. Driver-assistance features have been added as standard, including automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control, among others.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
It’s not the quickest minivan we’ve tested, but the front-wheel-drive Pacifica is far from sluggish (it reaches 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, about mid-pack in terms of performance) and feels plenty peppy around town. In non-hybrid guise, it packs a 287-hp 3.6-liter V-6 and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Pacifica hybrid makes less total horsepower (only 260 ponies) from its 3.6-liter V-6 and two electric motors backed up by a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. In our testing, its zero-to-60-mph time trailed the gas-powered model by 0.5 seconds. We’ll perform instrumented testing on the all-wheel-drive Pacifica soon and update this review with its results.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Airy, spacious, and packed with cubbies, cupholders, slide-out bins, and connectivity, the Pacifica is big on the features that minivan buyers love. Fit, finish, and materials are several steps above the Dodge Grand Caravan, but a few downmarket plastic pieces lurk inside the cabin. Upscale Limited and Pinnacle models come with a taller center console which blends more seamlessly with the dashboard, giving those trims a more SUV-like feel from behind the wheel. The fancy Pinnacle model comes with quilted-leather upholstery and even offers matching lumbar pillows for the second-row captain’s chairs—a feature we haven’t seen since the last time the ultra-luxurious Mercedes-Maybach S-class visited our office. The Pacifica’s standard Stow ‘n Go seats offer less padding than those in its rivals because they need to fold up compactly enough to fit inside the floor bins. As reparation for relinquishing the Stow ‘n Go second-row in hybrid models (the battery pack takes up all of the underfloor-storage space), Chrysler engineers added extra cushioning to the standard captain’s chairs. When it comes to hauling cargo, the Pacifica doesn’t disappoint. We managed to fit 53 of our carry-on suitcases inside with all the seats stowed. A built-in vacuum cleaner is available as an option, but it occupies space that can otherwise be devoted to an optional mini-spare tire.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Chrysler’s Uconnect 5 infotainment system is projected onto a glossy 10.1-inch touchscreen display that’s framed by climate-control vents on the van’s dashboard. Uconnect 5 is new and offers a reconfigurable home screen and Alexa integration. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, which can be connected wirelessly, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Up to 12 USB ports dot the Pacifica’s cabin, including some that are the new USB-C type that offer quicker charging for smart devices.