Friday, January 27, 2023
Reviews 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Review: The SUV Of Minivans

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Review: The SUV Of Minivans

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica doesn't want to be compared to other minivans, it wants to be an SUV alternative

  • The base price in Canada for the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is $45,170 in Canada, $35,045 in the US.

  • The 2021 Pacifica is a facelifted 2020 Pacifica which is now known as the Chrysler Grand Caravan in Canada, and Chrysler Voyager in the US.

  • The highlights are AWD and more tech and premium features than ever.

With more than 15 million of these Chrysler/Diamond-Star/DaimlerChrysler/FCA/Stellantis minivans sold since the early 1980s, it is very likely that your family has owned one and/or your neighbors had or have one. Unquestionably, the Chrysler (to keep it simple) minivan is, and will likely always be, the best-selling vehicle of its kind. Now, nearly 40 years after the original people-mover was launched, Stellantis introduces what is undoubtedly the most complete minivan they’ve ever created: the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Photo: Olivier Delorme

As the unofficial Minivan Queen (the shoe fits), I’m here to tell you all that every new minivan currently available is quite good. For families, no other vehicle can do what a minivan does with such ease. No 3-row midsize SUV can so effortlessly handle what family life can throw at it like a minivan. None of the four currently available on the market is perfect, but at least one is close.

Stow’n Go is not only an asset

And for the moment, the new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is not the one that is close to perfection. For one, 2nd-row flexibility, the most important, in my opinion, for a family, is limited. This is not limited to the tested Pinnacle’s captain seats but rather to one element that critically differentiates the Pacifica from all of its competition.

Stow’n Go seating in the middle row provides undeniable advantages in the form of extra out-of-the-way storage. Accessing the bins requires both rows of seats to be positioned in such a way, but that’s a detail. Should you be one that regularly requires maximum trunk space in a flash, there are no alternatives to Stow’n Go. Having said all that, this setup limits how far back the 2nd-row seats can travel. In fact, I found legroom to be snug for my children in their baby seats as they were able to reach the front seatbacks with their feet.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Photo: Olivier Delorme

As far as functional complaints about the Pacifica are concerned, they are covered. The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica benefits from lessons learned over the last 40 years where everything from a vast number of storage options all the way to connectivity solutions (up to 12 USB ports) for all are a must. Comfort too is key and the Pacifica delivers cozy seats in all positions, even as far back as the third row, with decent amounts of room to spare.

Luxury, features, and technology

The new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica ushers in a number of highly desirable features starting with the new Uconnect5 infotainment system. With it, as standard, comes five times more computing power and a lovely 10.1-inch touchscreen. Here, I found Uconnect5 to occasionally be slower to respond to inputs than the nearly all encounters I’ve had with Uconnect4. To boot, through Apple CarPlay, the system would arbitrarily recognize or drop my phone for no apparent reason. I suspect all that is required is a software update.

As the Pinnacle of the Pacifica, my tester featured quilted Caramel Nappa leather along with cushions for the rear seats along with a Harman Kardon audio system, and a number of other items such as the FamCAM. Although interesting as an idea, this system delivers only a bird’s eye view from behind the 2nd-row occupants. The point is that it is absolutely loaded.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The revamped 2021 Pacifica has been styled to favorably compete with SUVs. The front and rear fascias are more upright, chiseled with new light treatments, and it the minivan looks good. I doubt it will sway SUV buyers but the effort is remarkable.

All-wheel-drive because Canada, at a cost

One of the most noteworthy additions to the 2021 Pacifica is AWD. Last seen in 2004 because of the arrival of Stow’n Go seating, it returns thanks to the Pacifica’s platform which is 1.5 inches wider than the previous-generation Grand Caravan. The system consists of a power transfer unit that automatically connects or disconnects depending on driving conditions and needs.

The numerous snow-covered roads posed nary a challenge to the available all-wheel traction. Oddly, the only issue would arise when accelerating hard. On a few occasions, I could almost feel the power unit engage under heavy loads (one of the conditions). It would be followed by the ESP engaging and cutting engine power – not a desirable scenario when merging on a highway.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Beyond this, the standard 287-horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque provided by the 3.6-litre V6 were adequate, as was the 9-speed automatic transmission willingness to shift. I say adequate as it’s important to note that the AWD system and accompanying hardware including larger brakes, adds 360lbs to the minivan’s curb weight. With two adults, two kids, and various items onboard my week-long 500km+ road test returned an average of 15L/100km…

Thankfully, the Pacifica’s ride quality is very good. The Pacifica’s platform, unique to it (and the Voyager and Grand Caravan), features a fully-independent suspension that happens to ride 20mm higher with AWD over the FWD models.  Overall, the drive is refined and smooth. The minivan drives heavy but most will equate with quality and safety.

The Touring L and ranking

The as-tested price for my Pinnacle AWD, with the optional towing package, is $67,000. Despite discounts in excess of $10,000, this is not the version to buy unless quilted Nappa leather is a must. In my opinion, the Touring L, at about $52,000, is the most value-packed version with AWD, heated leather seats, heated steering wheel, and dual power sliding doors, and power liftgate.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Now, among other minivans, the question is: Where does it stand? For the moment, the Toyota Sienna outranks the Pacifica (PHEV as well) for efficiency, some interior features, and value (excluding incentives). I’m expected to review the 2021 Honda Odyssey in the near future but I know it will be good. The new Kia Carnival is the only unknown…

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle is the anti-SUV but I’m convinced that very few will jump from one to the minivan despite the luxury and premium features, and styling.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Photo: Olivier Delorme

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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