Redefining A Genre: The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

Front 3/4 view of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus.
Having had only a few minutes behind the wheel of the (at that time) pre-production Chrysler Pacifica at last year's Western Automotive Journalists Media Days, I was hoping to get some time at the wheel of a production model.  My first impressions in those few minutes more than a year ago were good ones, but how well would they hold up once I'd had a chance to see a few Pacificas on the street and had the opportunity to live with one for a week?

Above/side view of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus.
Frankly, I like it even more.  The newness of the Pacifica's sleek lines has not worn off.  And seeing it in traffic alongside Toyota Siennas, Honda Odysseys and Kia Sedonas (though those are exceedingly rare) simply reinforces that Chrysler's stylists got this one all kinds of right.

America hasn't quite gotten the memo, however.  Year-to-date, the Pacifica is the third-best-selling minivan in the country, trailing the Toyota Sienna by only 783 units...certainly no shame in that...but number one is...the 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan...the badge-engineered version of the ancient Chrysler Town & Country that the Pacifica replaced.  And it's not even a close loss.  In the first four months of this year, almost 15,000 more people took home a Grand Caravan than signed on the dotted line for the Pacifica.

Rear storage for 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus rear storage.
What's driving this madness?  Price, most likely.  There's a $3,000 difference in the base price of the entry-level Grand Caravan and Pacifica, while the spread between top-of-the-line models is $9,100.  In the Pacifica, though, that money buys things you simply can't get in a Grand Caravan, such as refinement and a bump in fuel economy from an EPA-estimated 17 city/25 highway to 18/28, thanks to the Pacifica's nine-speed automatic transmission.

Our tester was the Touring-L Plus, one step down from the top-of-the-line Limited. The main differences are a smaller sunroof, regular leather as opposed to Nappa and no built-in vacuum.  But the base price sticks on the sweet side of 40 large, at $37,895.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica interior view
2017 Chrysler Pacifica interior.
Our tester had optional equipment that bumped that price right back up over the 40K line, with $795 for hands-free sliding doors and liftgate (standard on Limited), an upgraded tire and wheel group and touring suspension for $895, the Advanced SafetyTec group with front and rear parking assist, a 360-degree camera, parallel and perpendicular parking assist with stop, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, full speed forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, automatic headlamp high-beam control and advanced brake assist for $1,995, KeySense for $175 and Uconnect 8.4 with navigation, HDRadio and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link for $695.

Fold in a $995 destination charge and you're at $43,445.  And yes, that's a chunk and yes, most Pacificas on Chrysler dealers' lots are generously equipped.   My take:  Factor out the bargain-basement shoppers buying the Grand Caravan and you have the Pacifica, priced competitively in the heart of the minivan market, nipping at the Sienna's heels and eating the Odyssey and Sedona's lunch.

Until the redesigned Sienna, Odyssey and Sedona hit, this is the state of the art of minivans.