- The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica starts at $37,795 before freight and delivery charges
- Very comfortable for long road trips
- Consumes quite a bit of fuel around town without the hybrid powertrain
We’ll sound like a broken record here, but no type of vehicle is as versatile and convenient for hauling the family then a minivan. And yet, consumers continue to turn their backs on them, and it’s particularly troubling for the Chrysler Pacifica, whose sales dropped by 38% during the 2019 calendar year in Canada, compared to the year before.
Actually, all minivan models still on the market had a rough year, with sagging sales both in Canada and in the United States. Even if the biggest SUVs have trouble rivalling them regarding cargo space and third-row passenger comfort.
On our market, the Chrysler Pacifica is the least popular in its category, and by far. The Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna put it to shame on the sales charts, and even the archaic—prehistoric even—Dodge Grand Caravan is still the reigning champ, even if it retire at the end of the 2020 model year in favour of the 2021 Chrysler Voyager—a bare-bones variant of the Pacifica.
Another slap in the face for the Pacifica is that its plug-in hybrid variant is amazingly fuel efficient, and the government green-vehicle rebates reduce its price to a more accessible level. However, this minivan finds few new homes. That’s a shame, because it’s a great vehicle in many aspects.
Under the hood, we find the good old 3.6-litre V6 that equips many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products. In the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica, it produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The minivan’s straight-line performance is interesting, even entertaining, while the nine-speed automatic transmission accomplishes its duty in utter smoothness.
Like all other minivans on the market, fuel consumption around town is pretty high. On the other hand, after a holiday break round trip from Montreal to New Hampshire, we ended up with an average of 9.6 L/100 km on the trip computer, while the NRCan official combined city/highway rating is set at 10.6.
The plug-in hybrid version of the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica relies on a modified version of the 3.6-litre V6, along with a continuously variable automatic transmission that integrates two electric motors, for a total output estimated at 260 horsepower. Its 16-kWh battery pack provides an electric-vehicle driving range of 51 kilometres, and can be fully charged on a level-2 plug in just two hours. The Pacifica Hybrid is rated at 2.9 Le/100 km—which includes running in EV mode—and a combined average of 8.0 L/100 km when the battery reaches its minimal state of charge. Those are stellar numbers for a minivan, or any light truck for that matter.
Why You Should Buy a 2020 Chrysler Pacifica
- As we just mentioned, the plug-in hybrid powertrain is easily the most-important reason to buy a Pacifica, or even a minivan. If we’re constantly driving the kids around to hockey practice, or going grocery shopping in our local community, we could potentially run exclusively on electric power, since a full charge at home only takes a couple of hours.
- The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is quite comfortable for road trips. There’s room for everyone and there are many storage points spread across the cabin, especially in the higher-end trim levels.
- Like any minivan, the Pacifica’s massive cargo capacity makes life easy for a family on the go. No need to figure out how everything will fit inside—we just throw in our gear and hit the road. The Chrysler has a max cargo capacity of 3,979 litres, which is slightly lower than a couple of its rivals, including the class-leading Toyota Sienna at 4,248 litres, but still cavernous.
- As in all FCA products, the Pacifica’s Uconnect infotainment system is great, with its responsive 8.4-inch touchscreen and long list of features. We really like the big on-screen button zones, which are much easier to poke while driving, and less distracting. The system also includes an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot for keeping everyone’s devices connected to the Internet, although a data package is obviously an extra charge.
- The Chrysler Pacifica’s Stow ‘n Go seats are practical for those who frequently need to switch from family transport to sofa hauling duties. The second-row seats can be folded to disappear completely into the load floor, a feature unique to FCA’s minivans, which is a much easier task than unclipping the heavy seats and storing them outside the vehicle—with nowhere to put them if we don’t have a garage. We should point out here that due to its underfloor battery pack, the Pacifica Hybrid can’t be equipped with these trick second-row seats.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2020 Chrysler Pacifica
- If the province we live in offers its own green-vehicle rebates, in addition to the federal government’s incentives, we’re in luck, as we can purchase the Pacifica Hybrid for almost the same price as the non-hybrid version. Otherwise, the plug-in hybrid powertrain will be a costly upgrade—even if the fuel savings make it a worthwhile purchase for long-term ownership.
- Like many FCA products, the Chrysler Pacifica’s reliability record isn’t good. Consumer Reports gives it a rating of 1 out of 5, with owners reporting problems with the vehicle’s suspension, drivetrain, transmission, paint and trim, electric components and infotainment system over the past few years. We’d lease the Pacifica, but for a long-term purchase, an extended warranty is a must.
- The base trim levels of the Chrysler Pacifica are obviously not as well-equipped as the fancier ones, but we would’ve liked rear-seat USB ports in the Touring, non-hybrid version we tested. There’s only one 12-volt socket in the rear and it’s near the tailgate, and there isn’t a domestic, 12-volt outlet either. Keeping everyone’s smartphones juiced up during our road trip required stretching out 10-feet USB extension cables from the front to the back of the van. Yeah, first-world problems.
- Sure, the Chrysler Pacifica is swift in a straight line and its Pentastar engine sounds good, but that’s the only fun we’ll get behind the wheel. It’s more engaging than a Sierra, and less than an Odyssey. No one dreams of driving his or her minivan at night anyway.
The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica shines for its comfortable and extremely versatile cabin. It also has a muscular powertrain, and although its fuel economy is reasonable, many crossovers are as efficient and offer all-wheel drive.
That will change for 2021, as the Pacifica will get all-wheel traction in addition to a facelift and other improvements such as a new Uconnect 5 infotainment system. Sadly, we won’t be able to combine AWD with the plug-in hybrid powertrain.
In short, the Chrysler Pacifica should be considered mainly for the financial savings and greenness of its available plug-in variant. Otherwise, the Pacifica is a competitive product, but so are its rivals.