I’ll be the first to admit — we haven’t been very good at keeping you updated on the happenings of our long-term 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. But that changes, starting right now.
We’ll start with an easy milestone: the 20,000-mile mark. In the first few months of our time with this minivan, we’ve traveled across multiple states, carried all manner of cargo (living and otherwise) and tried our best to shake the minivan to pieces. So far, it’s held up to everything we’ve thrown at it.
Back to basics
Under the hood of the Pacifica is a 287-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, mated to a nine-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. The engine performs admirably, providing more than enough forward hustle when you really lay into the gas pedal.
The transmission hasn’t been as up to the task as I’d hoped, though. It’s rather sluggish to downshift, requiring significant pedal travel in order to reach a gear where acceleration actually, you know, happens. There also doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason linking how far I depress the pedal and which gear the Pacifica shifts to. That results in a whole lot of foot-to-the-floor action, especially on highway on-ramps.
Even though I haven’t been light on the gas, fuel economy has been pretty darn decent. It’s rated at 18-19 mpg in the city (depending on trim) and 28 mpg on the highway. As usual, I’ve been having trouble meeting the city estimates, but the Pacifica positively nails its highway economy. Most trips, I’m hovering around 30 mpg on the highway, even at speeds approaching 80 mph, which is the ticket threshold for most Michigan interstates.
The Pacifica drives quite nicely on all manner of terrain. Its chunkier tire sidewalls soak up the smaller bumps, and the suspension is tuned to be nice and smooth, even when the van is largely unladen. It’s never made me, my passengers or my dogs sick on long trips outside of Michigan, which is more than I can say for a former long-term vehicle of ours.
When it comes to electronics, though, everything has been as close to perfect as possible. Our range-topping Pacifica features a revised version of Chrysler’s 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system. The design is a bit flatter, and the screen is responsive. Its voice recognition system has worked well, no matter what I’m feeding it — contact names, addresses, you name it.
I do have some qualms with how its menus are laid out. The seat heating functions — all but essential here in the Midwest — are hidden behind a menu and aren’t linked to any physical button. The same goes for syncing the climate control. A few extra buttons wouldn’t hurt.
If you’re like me and your phone is constantly hovering around 19 percent battery life, you’ll be happy to know that there are USB ports within reach of every seat in the Pacifica. The charge times aren’t crazy fast, but the ports are capable of adding battery life even while the phone is under heavy use.
The Pacifica does have additional connectivity. There’s a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot to which multiple devices can connect to at the same time. That’s great, but the trouble is, it only provides a 3G connection. Trying to work from the road usually results in me tethering to my phone’s 4G LTE connection, because it’s significantly faster. That said, when my carrier fails me and can’t find a signal, the Pacifica’s 3G is still running at nearly full strength.
Here’s a video of a recent deep dive we did into the Pacifica Hybrid’s Uconnect system, which is basically the same one in our long-termer, save for the additional hybrid stuff:
This update is only the beginning. We’ve continued to pile miles on the Pacifica, and there’s still plenty to talk about. Next time, we’ll take a deeper dive into how well it’s handled its cargo, whether groceries, cameras, children or dogs. The van hasn’t walked away entirely unscathed, but it’s all part and parcel of the ownership experience.