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- Highs Trick Stow 'n Go rear seats, available plug-in hybrid option, more USB ports and storage cubbies than expected.
- Lows Some cheap plastic interior bits, acceleration could be sprightlier, SUV-focused consumers continue to ignore.
- Verdict Style, grace, comfort, and space—the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica has it all, and more.
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 and the recipient of an Editors' Choice award. 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 for 2020, 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 2020 models will also be available with this feature—and the hybrid powertrain will be offered on more of the Pacifica's trims. Speaking of trims, the Touring L Plus model has been discontinued, and a new Pinnacle trim leapfrogs the Limited to become the Pacifica's top-spec model. Inside, the Pacifica gains a new 10.1-inch infotainment display with the latest Uconnect 5 interface, which offers Amazon 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.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The mid-range Touring L offers the best mix of features and value as it adds a host of additional features over the base Touring model. Those standard features include a heated steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery, heated front seats, and 18-inch wheels. We're fine sticking with front-wheel drive, but we'll let you make that call if you want all-wheel drive. We'd suggest sticking with the standard 3.5-liter V-6, though, as we had a few reliability hiccups with our long-term Pacifica hybrid.
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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 second. We'll perform instrumented testing on the all-wheel-drive Pacifica soon and update this review with its results.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
In addition to being space efficient, a minivan should also be fuel efficient. The Pacifica Limited we tested delivered an impressive 31 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route, which is tops for minivans. According to the EPA, the Pacifica hybrid can travel up to 33 miles on electric power and is rated at 84 MPGe combined. Around town, we were easily able to match the EPA's 33-mile estimate. On the highway, the Pacifica hybrid managed 23.4 miles of electric-only driving before the gasoline engine kicked on. We haven't had the opportunity to test the new all-wheel-drive model, but we expect to update this review with test results soon.
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 Amazon 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.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The 2021 Pacifica earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but it wasn't named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Acing its crashworthiness testing would be enough, but the Pacifica adds to its safety standing by offering nearly every conceivable driver-assistance feature available today. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
- Standard adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Chrysler offers a warranty package that is par for the class. The Kia Sedona does offer lengthier terms, but the Pacifica allows for longer use of the roadside-assistance plan. The Pacifica hybrid model has a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on hybrid components.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Hybrid components are covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door van
PRICE AS TESTED
$54,885 (base price: $39,535)
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
220 in3, 3605 cm3
287 hp @ 6400 rpm
262 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.8-in vented disc/13.3-in disc
Tires: Falken Ziex CT50 A/S, 245/50R-20 102V M+S
Wheelbase: 121.6 in
Length: 204.3 in
Width: 79.6 in
Height: 70.7 in
Passenger volume: 159 ft3
Cargo volume: 32 ft3
Curb weight: 4987 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.9 sec
100 mph: 22.0 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.1 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.9 sec
1/4 mile: 16.1 sec @ 87 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 111 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 183 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.4 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 17 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 20/17/25 mpg