2019 Chrysler Pacifica offers a smooth ride for family travel

The Pacifica is simply too big to claim any resemblance to the character of a modern midsize or even full-size sedan.

The Pacifica is simply too big to claim any resemblance to the character of a modern midsize or even full-size sedan.

FCA US Media / Contributed photo

Finding in our driveway a descendent of a minivan we once owned, we couldn’t resist the impulse to make some comparisons. Some of them proved telling.

The long-gone minivan was a 1985 Dodge Caravan; the new model, a 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Limited. The 2019 version gets better fuel economy despite having nearly triple the horsepower — 19 mpg city, 28 highway, compared with 16/20 for the Caravan with the 2.6-liter Mitsubishi engine. (Calculations of our Caravan’s fuel-economy average yielded somewhat higher numbers.) The size and weight differences are considerable: The new Pacifica is about two feet longer, 10 inches wider, six inches taller and 1,300 pounds heavier than the old Caravan.

The Caravan was a true minivan — smaller than a work van, and built on the platform of a pre-existing compact sedan called the Dodge Aries. Chrysler Corp. spokesmen were telling the gospel truth when they bragged about the Caravan’s “car-like” personality. The same cannot be said of the Pacifica. The ride is smooth and quiet, but the Pacifica is simply too big to claim any resemblance to the character of a modern midsize or even full-size sedan.

The strengths of today’s Pacifica, now entering its fourth year of production, are many, especially when compared with the discontinued Town & Country. It rides comfortably, and Chrysler has completely eliminated the T&C’s habit of up and down shifting repeatedly on the highway, even on relatively gentle grades. Its greatest strength, however, is its functionality. It’s a great vehicle for traveling with family, especially when equipped — as our test car was — with the Uconnect Theater with Wireless Streaming. This $1,995 option provided seat-back video screens to entertain second-row and rear-seat passengers.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

Price: $49,800

Engine: 3.6-liter V-6, 287 horsepower, 262 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

Drive: front-wheel

Weight: 4,330 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, twist blade with coil spring rear

Wheels: 18x7.5 aluminum polished

Tires: 235/60R18 all-season

Seating capacity: 7

Luggage capacity: 32.3 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 140.5 cu. ft.

Towing capacity: 3,600 lb.

Fuel capacity: 19 gal.

Fuel economy: 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

The base Pacifica L has a sticker price of about $27,000. Also available, for about $40,000, is the Pacifica Hybrid, which we test-drove last year. Using the van mainly as a commuter vehicle and charging it overnight, it averaged about 40 mpg. Our Pacifica Limited had a base price of $44,445, and $49,800 as equipped.

Even the base Pacifica has an impressive list of features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, heated exterior mirrors and remote keyless entry. Depending on the configuration of the seats, the Pacifica can hold seven or eight passengers. Our test car, with captain’s chairs in the second row, seated seven.

In Limited trim, the Pacifica approaches near-luxury quality. Standard features included Uconnect 4C navigation with an 8.4-inch screen, satellite radio, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, panoramic sunroof, power sliding doors and tailgate, Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum cleaner, and power-folding third-row seat. The second- and third-row seats fold into the floor, using Chrysler’s Stow ‘n Go system, to transform the Pacifica into a cargo van with 140.5 cubic feet of space.

The Pacifica received five-star ratings across the board in government crash tests, and has been designated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Just a few models remain in the minivan segment, including the Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.