All-wheel-drive is important in the Pacific Northwest, especially as we head into another winter that promises to be wet and snowy. Just in time for the cold weather, Chrysler is bringing out the 2021 Pacifica minivan. Chrysler is the minivan market leader, having sold over 15 million of these functional family wagons since 1984, and they've got a whole bunch of unique features.
One of the most popular features of the Chrysler Pacifica is Stow-n-Go seating. This allows you to fold the second and third-row seats right into the floor of the van, creating a flat surface and a huge cargo area when needed. Chrysler has offered Stow-n-Go since 2005, which is why 2004 was the last year you could get a gas-powered Chrysler van with all-wheel-drive. Simply put, they couldn't fit both features under the van. But as Chrysler executives told us last week at the press launch for the new van in North Carolina, Pacifica buyers really wanted both, so the engineers figured it out. You can now get stow-n-go, and you can have the confidence of all-wheel-drive in one package.
But there's more than that coming to the new Pacifica. Chrysler reworked the exterior to give it a more SUV-like profile, so if you want to look a little more up-to-date, the Pacifica has that. They also provided 97 standard safety features. Of those, 14 are new for 2021, including full speed collision warning and automatic braking, with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, full lane keeping assistance and warnings, rain sensing wipers, automatic LED high/low beams, supplemental turn signals, and more. There are 20 more optional safety features, mostly gathered together in the Safety Sphere package, including a 360-degree camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assistance, and automatic stop when reversing.
The Pacifica will continue to offer eight standard airbags, five LATCH child seat positions and a KeySense programmable key fob that allows parents to set parameters regarding speed, stereo volume and other limitations. One final feature to mention is the FamCam, which uses a fisheye camera over the second row to display a picture of all the back seats. You can touch any seat on the display for a close-up view. The greatest thing is that this works to give you a clear view of infants in rear-facing car seats.
Up front, infotainment happens through a 10.1-inch touchscreen display running the new UConnect 5 system with support from Amazon Alexa. This allows you to control certain functions on the van by speaking to any Alexa device in your home or office. You can start the vehicle, lock or unlock the doors, and ask the van to play music or record a to-do list. The system also allows up to six personal profiles for the media system, so you can have your favorite tunes when you're alone, and have a family profile when you're carrying others.
The 2021 Pacifica is powered by Chrysler's trusty 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission with your choice of front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. There's also a Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid with EV capability and dual-electric-motor all-wheel-drive, but that one does not offer stow-n-go seating, because the batteries for the hybrid system are mounted in the floor.
On the road, the Pacifica AWD is truly impressive. In addition to everything else, this is the quietest van Chrysler has ever produced. It's peaceful inside, and comfortable. The ride is smooth and controlled, and the Pentastar V6 provides ample power for any purpose you could reasonably have with a minivan. On the day I drove it in North Carolina, we were getting whipped by the edges of Hurricane Eta and the van handled heavy rain, storm winds and deep runoff water very well. The bottom line is that the Pacifica is easy and enjoyable to drive.
Chrysler offers the Pacifica in four trim levels, ranging from Touring up to a new luxury Pinnacle trim that executives called a "living room on wheels." All the seats are upholstered in leather and it even includes throw pillows in the second row seats. Sitting below the Pacifica on the price scale is the Voyager, which will continue with the 2020 styling, but costs just $27,235. With AWD, the most affordable Pacifica starts at $38,040, or $35,045 with front-wheel-drive. If you go all-in on the Pinnacle, that van costs $53,390. With all the hybrid options, you can choose between 12 different models of Chrysler minivans this year.
Dealers are taking orders for the 2021 Pacifica right now, and the vans are expected on showroom floors before the end of the year. If you are planning to replace or upgrade your family van, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica should be at the top of your test-drive list.
2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD
Base price: $38,040
Price as tested: $53,390
Engine: 3.6-liter V6 (287 hp, 262 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 17/25
Overall length: 204.3 inches
Curb weight: 4,521 pounds
Final assembly: Windsor, Ontario
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