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2023 Chrysler Pacifica

2023 Chrysler Pacifica

Allow me to open this piece with a qualification: while minivans in general aren’t typically the types of vehicles that drivers and enthusiasts like us have in our dream garages, that’s not to say they’re bad vehicles. In fact, far from it; minivans are unabashedly very good at what they’re meant to do: haul. Typically, we’re talking about hauling families but manufacturers have delivered “work van” versions of their minivans as well, and many fleets use them regularly. They’re comfortable, they’re spacious and they’re usually pretty powerful. They are as close to a perfect vehicle as you can find in North America today, because they are focused.

2023 Chrysler Pacifica

The reason this particular van is being featured in one of our first “you actually…” reviews is because while it’s closely associated with one of the “OGs” of the minivan game – the Dodge Caravan, circa 1984 – many have sprung up since and many have come correct with some very good entries. Kia, Honda and especially Toyota have made huge inroads into the minivan game and if we’re honest, the Pacifica – while it has its strengths – has some work to do against these. There’s more usable storage in the Sienna and you can get both hybrid and AWD; the Odyssey has better steering and handling; and the new Kia Carnival has done a good job of mixing the luxury of a livery car with the practicality of a minivan.

2023 Chrysler Pacifica

But as we said, in its basic form, the Pacifica has its strengths: it has a great ride, the Stow N’ Go seating is a great feature and the interior fit and finish is very good. This model we’re looking at here, meanwhile, takes things up a notch that has me looking at the Pacifica in another light.

First of all, the styling

Just look at it! Yes, it’s painted in a fairly pedestrian shade of grey, but the optional black wheels – measuring all of 20 inches! – are a great look and they compliment the side window tinting, the grille and the black-on-black Chrysler logo thereupon, and the badging. Add the full-width taillight and the Pacifica looks less a minivan and more a cross between a wagon and SUV. In this particular spec, it’s the best looking minivan you can get.

And how about that interior?

Like the exterior, they’ve gone to a shade of black to bring a further level of refinement beyond what we already have; the dash upper, the seats, the steering wheel, centre stack – lots of black, here, but it’s nicely intercut with contrast white stitching and seat piping, Harman Kardon audio, large 10-inch infotainment display with wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and bluey gauge cluster. The “S” stitching on the seatbacks is also a nice touch that reminds of the Chrysler 300S sedan, which is a more performance-oriented look for this minivan…and we take no issue with that. Even the third row, which isn’t as big as some of the competition, gets four cupholders and USB-C and USB-A ports.

All of that is great, but the start of the show here as it is in other Pacificas is the Stow N’ Go seating that folds neatly into the floor below, and leaves a nice, deep storage bin situation when they’re up. The third row is powered in our model, and both rear seats can be folded with a single button press. Add power sliding side doors that can be opened via the keyfob and you have some important practical features covered.

Speaking of power…

2023 Chrysler Pacifica

While the Pacifica is available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model, what we have here is a gas-only 3.6-litre V6 that’s an award-winning engine and good for 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque and that gets sent to all four wheels via a close-ratio nine-speed automatic transmission that works well with that motor to provide good power when needed, no matter the revs. The PHEV is nice, but its range is average, it is heavier than the gas van, loses power and can’t be had with AWD.

For us, then, this is the Pacifica model to go with. It looks cool, it drives well and it’s got the equipment most any family needs.

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