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Motoring: "I'm not like other vans, I'm a cool van"


The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is a nice, smooth-driving vehicle; though, with the price and the poor build-quality, is it really worth it?

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 31st, 2016

It made one of the biggest splashes at this years’ Detroit auto show (NAIAS) when it was unveiled, but is the product as good as the looks suggests? Time to take an in-depth look at the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.

Billed as a “cool” minivan, the new Pacifica has distanced itself from its largely unsuccessful crossover past (2004 to 2008), and now replaces the Town & Country as the firm’s luxury van offering; in fact, it is being built at the same Windsor, Ont. factory where the Town & Country was made, and where the Dodge Grand Caravan is still being made.

So, how is the 2017 Pacifica? From the looks of it, it’s quite good. Minivans are usually dull to look at, but the Pacifica is actually quite nice. It’s sleek with clever design touches that flow from detail to detail; however, not everything aligned properly on my tester, which indicates that attention is not being paid when building these vehicles.

Open the doors and rear hatch, and you’ll find more annoying signs of cutting corners: some of the metal tapering and panel seals are rough, making a new vehicle look like it was badly rebuilt after an accident. I’d forgive it of such issues if they were minor, but there are too many to ignore and the issues were the same on every Pacifica I examined at a dealer.

While these issues won’t affect the way this vehicle drives, over the long run I think it’ll rust out quite badly.

For the time you’ll use it, you’ll find certain aspects of it to be quite good. The seats are comfortable, it rides quite well, there is lots of space (it does have those handy Stow-N-Go seats, and lots of cubby holes and pockets), plus the engine and gearbox are quite good at moving you along. They’re quite efficient as well; I averaged 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres in my test cycle, which is incredible for a vehicle of this size.

Under the hood lies a 3.6 letre V6 motor that produces 287 horsepower and 262 pounds per foot of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a smooth, nine-speed automatic transmission. Next year, Chrysler will offer a Hybrid version of the Pacifica, making it the first minivan on the market to offer such technology.

For now, a normally aspirated V6 is all it has, and that is just fine. This is a willing engine, which moves this large vehicle with ease. The gear ratio spread is quite good as well, giving you good acceleration and a great highway fuel economy at the same time.

Handling is not an area where any minivan performs particularly well, but the Pacifica manages well; Chassis Flex is far more composed than a Kia Sedona, for example.

What most people look for in a minivan is a comfortable ride for covering large distances, and the Pacifica scores well here.

It also scores well for available gadgets. Up front you can have a touch screen infotainment system, and in the rear, it has screens which are useful to keep the kids amused.

So, apart from the build-quality issues, the Pacifica scores quite well. However, there is another issue and that is price. When the model was launched, its starting price was $43,995. Just this week, Chrysler has announced a new, Pacifica LX base model that drops the price to $37,995. Personally, I’d like to see the entry-level price drop to under $30,000, which I’m sure is not far away when you take rebates into account.

All in all, the Pacifica impresses with its looks, good fuel economy, and comfort; if only Chrysler built them better, I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to move a large family.
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