• Car Review

Review: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica

By David Undercoffler | April 13, 2018

Autolist rating: 5/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $28,140 - $46,140

Key takeaways

  • One of the better family vehicles on the market.
  • An awful transmission is its biggest weakness, but the Pacifica is still worth buying.
  • Comes in gas or plug-in hybrid versions.
  • The gas model’s ace in the hole is its Stow ‘n Go seats.

What is it?

The Chrysler Pacifica comes to us from the automaker who invented the minivan back in the 1980s (originally it was sold as a Dodge, a Plymouth or a Chrysler). For this sixth generation, Chrysler changed the name to Pacifica from Town & Country.

The Pacifica was redesigned in 2017 and competes with the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona.

There are two versions of the Pacifica: the regular gas model and a plug-in hybrid.

The gas version is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 with 287 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The plug-in hybrid has a 3.6-liter V6 and an electric motor for 260 total horsepower.

Both versions are front-wheel drive; Toyota’s Sienna is currently the only minivan on the market that offers all-wheel drive.

There are six different versions of the gas Pacifica to suit your budget and two versions of the plug-in hybrid. The hybrid is also eligible for state and federal tax incentives and rebates, including the $7,500 federal tax credit, which can go a long way in cutting down the price of the Pacifica.

Depending on the model and trim level, the Pacifica can seat either seven or eight people.

Like all contemporary minivans today, the Pacifica has sliding doors on both sides (which are power-operated on many models).

But the real gem in the Pacifica is the patented Stow ‘n Go collapsible seats, which separate the Chrysler from its competitors that have yet to figure out a system as functional. (Unfortunately the Stow n Go seats are only available on the gas Pacifica models and not the plug-in hybrid versions.)

What’s good

TLDR: The seats, the handling, the practicality.

Stow ‘n Go. The highlight of the Pacifica is easily its middle seats that disappear entirely when you fold them into the floor (other minivans make you remove the seats if you want to use that space). When the seats aren’t collapsed, owners can use the space they fold into for extra storage. This gives owners huge amounts of flexibility in how they use the inside of the Pacifica.

The drive. Other than the fussy transmission, the Pacifica is excellent to drive. It’s quiet, comfortable, powerful and it handles well. This may not be a priority for minivan buyers, but it’s nice to know you can have a family hauler that’s still fun to pilot.

Family friendly. Chrysler has done its homework on what a family carrier needs to have inside. There are USB ports throughout the Pacifica (including in the third row) to keep everything charged. More cupholders than you can count. Bins, and cubby holes and drawers to store everything from purses to laptops to small diaper bags. And higher-end models have streaming wireless screens so kids can watch their favorite movies and shows.

What’s bad

TLDR: The transmisson, kids trying to use Stow n Go.

The transmission. As we mentioned earlier, the Pacifica’s nine-speed automatic transmission is the worst part of the entire van. Pick a problem. It lets the Pacifica roll too much when you switch between reverse and forward. It lurches awkwardly when shifting at low speeds. And it requires too many downshifts when you’re on the highway or on-ramp and need the engine’s power. These issues wouldn’t prevent us from buying a Pacifica, but they would definitely make us try out Honda’s Odyssey for comparison.

Actually using the Stow ‘n Go. While they’re an excellent addition to the Chrysler minivan, these seats are harder to actually fold than we’d like. It’s a multi-step process and the seats themselves are heavy enough that it will probably be tough for a kid to use them on their own. Plus, Stow ‘n Go means that these middle seats don’t slide like they do in rival brands.

Small infotainment screen. This is a minor nitpick, but the display screen in the dashboard seemed small by today’s standards. It was ultra crisp and responsive; we just hoped it would be bigger.

5 stars of execution

Safety? Yes

  • The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica is rated a Top Safety Pick by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and it has a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • All models also come with standard blind spot monitoring, a backup camera, rear cross-traffic alert and auto-reverse braking if you’re about to hit something when backing up.

Value? Yes

  • Knowing the Pacifica would need to appeal to a large range of families with a wide array of budgets, Chrysler did a nice job making even the base model feel like it’s got some goodies that come with it.
  • The cheapest version is the $28,140 Pacifica L, but the real value is in the next model up -- the $30,940 LX. It comes standard with the aforementioned safety gear, a seven-inch touchscreen audio system and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, the Stow ‘n Go seats we love and handsome 17-inch alloy wheels.

Efficiency? Yes

  • The gas Pacifica won’t win any awards for its efficiency, but it matches the Honda and Toyota models: 19/28/22 mpg city/highway/combined.
  • However, Chrysler is the only minivan that comes in a plug-in hybrid version. This model is rated at 32 mpg combined on gas and 84 mpg when factoring in the 33 miles of pure-electric range. Bonus: this plug-in model also qualifies for tax credits and incentives.

Driving experience? Yes

  • The engine’s power, steering feel and the quiet and comfortable ride make the Pacifica a great place to spend quality time with the family on long or short road trips.
  • The high seating position also gives everyone a commanding view of the road, much like a crossover.
  • These benefits offset frustrations with the finicky transmission.

Execution? Yes

  • There are a lot of ways to mess up a minivan, and Chrysler deftly avoided nearly all of them with this Pacifica.
  • It offers unmatched practicality thanks to the Stow ‘n Go seats and then adds to this comfort, style, safety and convenience in a well-rounded family hauler.

Total Rating: 5 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The base Pacifica L starts at $28,140 and comes with a seven-inch touchscreen audio system and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, standard blind spot monitoring, a backup camera, rear cross-traffic alert and auto-reverse braking.

Step up to the $30,940 LX for goodies like the Stow ‘n Go seats, power driver’s seat and handsome alloy wheels.

Our favorite model is the Touring Plus. It starts at $33,740 and has a variety of family-friendly features at a reasonable price. These include power sliding doors, three-zone climate control and remote start -- all things that come in handy when you have your hands full trying to manage a cohort of kids.

The plug-in hybrid models start with the $41,140 Hybrid Touring Plus (and, remember, this model is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax rebate and various tax incentives and credits, depending on your state).

After that, buyers can spend up to $50,000 loading their Pacifica up with luxury-car amenities: heated and cooled leather seats (Nappa leather on the highest trim), heated steering wheel, navigation system, streaming audio and video systems with wireless headphones, heated second-row seats, hands-free power doors, a panoramic moonroof and even a built-in vacuum to keep your Pacifica Cheerio-free.

Also consider

The Chrysler Pacifica’s main competitors are the Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

Of those, we’d recommend looking at the Odyssey; it’s new, it’s stylish and practical and it’s packed with plenty of tech-based goodies to make road trips with the family easier.

The Toyota Sienna is a fine minivan, but it’s getting old at this point and the Chrysler and Honda models can do everything it can but better (except the Toyota is the only one that offers all-wheel drive).

The Kia Sedona looks good, but it doesn’t offer meaningful competition for the others in this segment.