ChryslerReviews

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is keeping minivans relevant

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The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica at a glance

Seating 7 or 8
Engine 3.6L V6 Pentastar®
Horsepower 287
Towing capacity 3,600 pounds (properly equipped)
Cargo capacity Max 140.5 cu-ft (all seats down)
Tech Adaptive cruise, rear Blu-ray®, vacuum, kick-activated side and rear doors
Price as tested (MSRP Canadian) $49,810

FCA Canada provided a 2020 Chrysler Pacifica with a full tank of fuel for the purpose of this review

Minivans once saved a company, and the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is the latest example of how that 26-year storied history continues to bolster the bottom line of its parent company. While minivans seem to have fallen from graces in the last half-decade, the truth is they’re still the best vehicles for families. The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is one of the few options left. It’s a prime example of what you’ll get in a modern minivan. It’s also nice to see that companies are still innovating in this market, even if it’s a shrinking number.

Family fun in the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica

This isn’t my first time in a Chrysler Pacifica, but it was my best time. Chrysler provided FutureMotoring with the Touring trim, which falls roughly in the middle of trim lines. This 2020 Chrysler Pacifica got optioned with eight-passenger seating, like our tester. It’s the configuration that fits my family best.

Family road trips are where minivans shine. Anyone who tries to make a trip with more than two kids or an animal will soon discover the shortcomings of most three-row SUVs. Minivans handle cargo better, more so since fold-flat third-row seating became a thing. That deep well in the trunk adds to the stuff you can carry. There is an optional entertainment system that our tester didn’t have, but that didn’t seem to matter much. Traveling to new places can be entertaining enough.

A minivan arms race

Seating and rear entertainment have become the focus of innovation in modern minivans. Chrysler took it to the next level in the early 2000s, and the others are still playing catch-up. Stow ‘n Go™ seating is the best minivan innovation since the great cupholder wars of the late ’90s. And these quick-folding seats have been perfected in the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica. My kids could easily use the entry access handle, which pops the second-row chair forward, eliminating a lot of the fuss. They’re not hard and thin as in previous generations, either. The family was comfortable for the duration of a few long road trips.

FCA, the parent company behind Chrysler, has always had an excellent infotainment system in Uconnect. When you opt for the eight-inch touchscreen, you’re getting one of the best-in-class. It’s responsive, easy to use, and beautiful. It’s also a magnet to fingerprints, as any smooth-glass screen is, you’ll need occasional wipes with a microfiber cloth. There is an available Blu-ray® entertainment system that features a suite of apps and games. Sadly, this didn’t’ get included on our tester. If it’s about the same as 2017, then it’s sure to keep kids entertained for trips lasting multiple hours.

Vacuums are quickly becoming a new thing in the minivan arms race. While the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica has one available, it wasn’t on this test van.

Roadblocks

The best thing about having kids is the level of intensity they add to a road test. It’s like having a small crew of durability testers on staff. If the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica truly is a minivan, it should excel at enduring this heavy use. For the most part, the good news is the Pacifica feels and is resilient against the onslaught of children and dogs. Fold-flat second-row seats are great, but their forward position can’t be adjusted. That means you’re stuck with the legroom you have, especially in the middle eight-passenger seat.

There were a few lose or flexible panels throughout the interior. Much of the lower door trim, plastics, and handles looked like they came from the Dodge Grand Caravan parts bin. While the hard plastics may earn points for being easy to clean, they felt cheap in a minivan that looks upscale. Minivans are known for excessive cupholders, but the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica felt slightly short of them in the front center console. While there are four, plus more in the doors, the front console is often the staging area for drinks and food at the drive-through.

Power to the people 

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica does well, even better with the hybrid platform, are power and efficiency. It’s surprising how a vehicle with more interior cargo space than a full-size SUV can get real-world fuel efficiency on par with a large sedan. We’re seeing this engine in a lot of FCA vehicles now and for a good reason. Stacked up against minivans from Toyota or Kia, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is quite simply more fun to drive. Even with a full passenger and cargo load, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica feels more like a crossover behind the wheel.

Other minivans only wish they had the mileage we got from the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica. Ours is a front-wheel-drive version, but you can option a winter-friendly AWD version in the 2021 model. We saw numbers as low as 7.8L/100km (30.1MPG) on highway trips. All told, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica set a respectable 8.3L/100km (28.3 MPG) by the time it got returned. These are the kind of numbers that mean the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica will need fewer pit stops on those long trips. It’s not the right minivan for the “who can go longer before needing a break” game.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica

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New choices coming

This is the last of this generation before a design refresh comes in 2021. Chrysler is changing how they offer the Pacifica to give buyers more choice. In Canada, the Chrysler Grand Caravan is a value-positioned version of the Pacifica. It goes by the name Chrysler Voyager in the US. Both will have many useful standard features, like Android Auto™ and Apple Carplay®, a rearview camera, and fold-flat third-row seats. Both will be ideal for families to get the most bang for their buck.

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is getting a facelift inside and out, but mechanically stays the same. There’s a host of new safety features to go alongside with the cosmetic upgrades. It should provide enough updates to feel fresh alongside an all-new Toyota Sienna, also coming for 2021. The good news is that this means there may be deals on the remaining 2020 Chrysler Pacifica minivans in 2020. It also means Chrysler is still innovating the minivan segment, and that’s great news for fans.

The all-in vehicle

Minivans are the envy of three-row SUVs in the battle for the ultimate family hauler. There’s space for stuff or passengers for days. The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica reminded me why it’s still one of the top picks on the market today. The major dealbreakers from past Pacificas are gone. This eight-passenger Pacifica is near about exactly how I’d spec it. It’s missing things like the tow package and rear DVD, maybe the vacuum. However, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica touring as tested is an excellent example of a well-executed minivan.

FCA hasn’t had as many hits lately, but the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is a big one. Big enough to keep the minivan alive for the next generation.

 

Dan Croutch
the authorDan Croutch
Dan is a freelance automotive writer and YouTuber (DanDrives). He enjoys all things pickup trucks, classic cars and minivans (really). Fascinated by technology and cars. EV hopeful, but slightly skeptic. He blogs at http://dan.croutch.ca occasionally, tweets @dcroutch obsessively.

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