Chrysler was the company that created the minivan. So when it came time for a thorough update, they had the data and market research to implement the thoughtful touches that make family travel easier.
The upcoming 2021 Chrysler Pacifica adds another previously unavailable option: all-wheel drive. The only other minivan with this feature is the Toyota Sienna. But as hard as Toyota has tried to make its van cool with the Swagger Wagon campaign, it still falls short. On the other hand, some trendy appearance packages have been developed for the Pacifica. Dare I say, it makes it cool!
The Pacifica Red S addition builds on FCA’s 35-year legacy as the minivan leader and innovator, bringing a new look and a huge burst of attitude and color to Pacifica’s already class-leading functional interior. The exclusive Red S interior features Rodeo Red premium Nappa leather two-tone seats accented by Light Diesel Grey stitching and piping and an “S” logo on the seatbacks. Silver Metal Brush hydro bezels embellish the instrument panel and door trim.
On the outside, there are Red S liftgate badges and blacked-out Chrysler wing badges with red inserts. The Pacifica Red S Edition rides on blacked-out 20-inch wheels (18-inch on Pacifica Hybrid). The package is rounded out by Advanced SafetyTec, featuring many of the more than 100 standard and available safety and security features of the Pacifica.
Tim Kuniskis, global head of passenger cars for Chrysler, notes, “There’s nothing better than a minivan at moving both people and stuff, and Chrysler Pacifica allows owners to haul with a bit more style. One out of every three Pacifica models sold features the blacked-out S Appearance. The Pacifica’s new Red S Edition takes that factory customization even further, giving families a chance to really make a statement in the school drop-off line.”
Powering the Chrysler Pacifica is the 3.6-liter Pentastar coupled to a nine-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. It now features 287 horsepower and is more than capable of getting the van up to speed while delivering decent fuel economy. I averaged 23 mpg in both city and highway driving.
There is also a hybrid version of the Pacifica available that is able to travel up to 30 miles in all-electric mode. The only drawback to the hybrid version is the third-row Stow-and-Go magical seating is eliminated because that is where the battery pack is stored. I actually prefer the non-hybrid version for the added utility and lower MSRP, but the gasoline savings is tempting when fuel prices inevitably begin to rise again.
One feature on my tester was the advanced Uconnect Theater entertainment system with two 10-inch seatback touchscreens coupled with an 8.4-inch full-color driver information display. Compared to previous generations, the Uconnect 4 systems include a faster startup time, enhanced processing power and high-resolution graphics. Apple CarPlay enables iPhone users to access Apple Maps, Messages, phone and Apple Music through Siri voice control or the Uconnect touchscreen. Android Auto is also onboard and enables easy and safe access to Google Voice Search, Google Maps and Google Play Music via the Uconnect touchscreen or steering wheel controls.
An unusual option on the new Pacifica is KeySense. The vehicle comes with three key fobs, two regular fobs and a KeySense fob. The KeySense fob is designed for when you hand the keys off to your teenage driver. This special key holds the radio volume down to a sensible level and limits the speed to a predetermined value that you choose. If you are really worried about your kids borrowing the car (or just want to “check in” on them a little more intensely), your aftermarket mobile electronics specialist can install a system that can geofence the vehicle. This means you can get a text alert if the vehicle travels beyond your predetermined boundaries.
The Pacifica offers two audio systems: a 13-speaker Alpine system or a 20-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system. Mine featured the Alpine system, which was admirable for a stock audio system. Some of the credit goes to the ease-of-use with the large 8.4-inch infotainment display.
Since we are talking about a minivan, a mobile electronics retailer can get creative to install a subwoofer solution. The Harman subwoofer goes where the spare tire would live. Or you could replace that subwoofer with an available built-in vacuum cleaner that some people love.
The Pacifica screams engineering smarts, even when compared to the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. Next year’s addition of all-wheel-drive might even tempt some families to ditch their ever-popular SUVs and wonder why they didn’t want this much comfort and convenience in the first place!