Automotive

Chrysler tries to make minivans cool again, with the Pacifica

Chrysler tries to make minivan...
The Pacifica has been designed as a practical, stylish alternative to run-of-the-mill SUVs
The Pacifica has been designed as a practical, stylish alternative to run-of-the-mill SUVs
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Chrysler has fitted the Pacifica with as much active-safety tech as it will hold
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Chrysler has fitted the Pacifica with as much active-safety tech as it will hold
Stow'n'Go seats allow the back of the Pacifica to be used as a van in fancy dress
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Stow'n'Go seats allow the back of the Pacifica to be used as a van in fancy dress
There's little practical touches everywhere, from the back of the seats to the boot floor
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There's little practical touches everywhere, from the back of the seats to the boot floor
The seats can be laid out in any possible combination, but with all seats up the Pacifica seats 8 people
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The seats can be laid out in any possible combination, but with all seats up the Pacifica seats 8 people
Mum and dad haven't been forgotten, with big comfy pews up front
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Mum and dad haven't been forgotten, with big comfy pews up front
There's a panoramic sunroof on offer to keep kids entertained, but if that fails you can always turn to the tablets on the back of the headrests
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There's a panoramic sunroof on offer to keep kids entertained, but if that fails you can always turn to the tablets on the back of the headrests
FCA's uConnect features in the Pacifica
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FCA's uConnect features in the Pacifica
Chrysler's designers have worked hard to make the Pacifica as 'cool' as possible
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Chrysler's designers have worked hard to make the Pacifica as 'cool' as possible
There is a V6 petrol engine or a hybrid available in the Pacifica
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There is a V6 petrol engine or a hybrid available in the Pacifica
Chrysler is expecting 80 MPGe from the hybrid Pacifica
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Chrysler is expecting 80 MPGe from the hybrid Pacifica
Dual sliding doors were introduced on a previous iteration of the Pacifica
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Dual sliding doors were introduced on a previous iteration of the Pacifica
The car's front end mimics the front of the 200 sedan, but that's where the similarities end
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The car's front end mimics the front of the 200 sedan, but that's where the similarities end
With auto start/stop, the Pentastar has been designed to compete with frugal four-cylinder SUVs
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With auto start/stop, the Pentastar has been designed to compete with frugal four-cylinder SUVs
The Hybrid model debuts a new type of gearbox for Chrysler
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The Hybrid model debuts a new type of gearbox for Chrysler
The standard three-kid school run doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what the Pacifica can do
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The standard three-kid school run doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what the Pacifica can do
The car has a 30 mile electric range, which should cover the school run comfortably
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The car has a 30 mile electric range, which should cover the school run comfortably
The hybrid is on different wheels and tires to then standard car
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The hybrid is on different wheels and tires to then standard car
Chrysler has put the electric charge port near the drivers door to make life as easy as possible
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Chrysler has put the electric charge port near the drivers door to make life as easy as possible
The Pacifica might be a minivan, but that doesn't mean it can't be stylish too
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The Pacifica might be a minivan, but that doesn't mean it can't be stylish too
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The Pacifica at its debut in Detroit
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The Pacifica at its debut in Detroit
The car has keyless go, lane keeping assist among other convenience features
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The car has keyless go, lane keeping assist among other convenience features
The front end is far more interesting than the outgoing Town and Country's bland face
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The front end is far more interesting than the outgoing Town and Country's bland face
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The Pacifica is all about being easy to use without sacrificing on style
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The Pacifica is all about being easy to use without sacrificing on style
The Pacifica comes along after over 14 million Chrysler minivans have been sold in past
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The Pacifica comes along after over 14 million Chrysler minivans have been sold in past
The Pacifica has been designed as a practical, stylish alternative to run-of-the-mill SUVs
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The Pacifica has been designed as a practical, stylish alternative to run-of-the-mill SUVs
View gallery - 27 images

Modern families might be crazy about their high-riding SUVs, but for a long time the minivan ruled supreme in the world of practical family hauling. Chrysler is hoping its new Pacifica is able to kickstart a retro revolution, where practicality and family-first features trump the schoolyard kudos carried by the four-wheel drive monsters that currently rule the road.

Chrysler might be hailing the Pacifica as the first cool minivan, but there's no hiding the fact this is a car for people who have procreated in big numbers. Thanks to active noise cancellation and a brand-new platform designed to cut down on harsh noise and vibrations, the Pacifica should offer up a far more refined experience than classic minivan owners are familiar with.

The car has keyless go, lane keeping assist among other convenience features
The car has keyless go, lane keeping assist among other convenience features

It should also handle better than your average family bus. The new car's platform means it's 68 kg (150 lb) lighter than Chrysler's last minivan, and engineers are claiming it's almost twice as stiff. As well as making things more interesting from behind the wheel, that makes a huge difference in an accident – and with up to seven kids on board, that's something Pacifica buyers are likely to be happy with.

Of course, there's no way Chrysler is going to tempt people out of SUVs if the Pacifica looks like a box on wheels. While there's no hiding its van-roofline, we think the new car looks pretty good. The front end has been designed to mimic that of the 200 sedan, while the back is sculpted to be more interesting than your average box.

It also sits low to the ground, which gives it a more car-like silhouette.

The standard three-kid school run doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what the Pacifica can do
The standard three-kid school run doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what the Pacifica can do

It's not just in styling that Chrysler has tried to modernise the minivan. Although the base powertrain is FCA's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 hooked up to a nine-speed automatic gearbox, the Pacifica is also available as a hybrid with a 48 km (30 mi) electric range.

The electric motor is powered by a 16-kWh battery pack hidden under the second row of seats, and can be charged in two hours using a 240-volt wall plug. As is the case with most electric cars, the battery also refills itself through regenerative braking when you step off the gas.

This battery is combined with a V6 for a total system output of 194 kW (260 hp), slightly less than the non-hybrid's 214 kW (287 hp). Where the hybrid shines, as you'd imagine, is in the combined cycle economy test, where it returns 80 MPGe (2.9 l/100km equiv). Chrysler is adamant this figure is achievable on the road, as most minivans are used for short trips where the car's electric-only ability comes into its own.

Because it's designed as a family-hauler, the Pacifica's interior has been kitted out with all sorts of time and effort saving touches. The seats fold into the floor if you need to use the car as a load-lugging van, and owners worried about crumbs ruining the carpet can spec a vacuum on the inside of the car. We've never been so sure a previously-untested feature will suck.

Stow'n'Go seats allow the back of the Pacifica to be used as a van in fancy dress
Stow'n'Go seats allow the back of the Pacifica to be used as a van in fancy dress

There's also keyless entry, and optional rear-mounted tablets that include a game which tells kids how far it is until they're at their destination. While it's not guaranteed to stop backseat drivers getting under the driver's skin, it's certainly a start.

The Pacifica will be on sale in 2017, where we hope to see this handsome minivan lining the streets around schools all over America.

Stay tuned for all the latest from the Detroit Auto Show, where Gizmag is on the ground covering all the action.

Source: Chrysler

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1 comment
Grunchy
Wow! I am the proud owner of a 2004 Pacifica, which I still think is an awesome car (250,000+ km, probably getting due for a timing belt). I'm quite eager to see the differences between that generation and this one.