The Car Connection picks one or two cars each year to road-test and review for more than the usual week. We grab long-term vehicles when we spot a car, truck, minivan, or SUV that deserves more time behind the wheel, and a more thorough explanation of why we recommend it.
In recent years, that roster has included cars like the Honda Pilot and Subaru Forester. This week, the fleet welcomes its newest champ: the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited.
The Pacifica's racked up plenty of awards since it arrived as a replacement for the old Town & Country. It's handsomely designed, and fitted with an attractive interior. Its powertrains range from an eager, 287-hp V-6 to a trend-setting, 30-electric-mile plug-in hybrid. It's the most useful minivan you can buy, period--and its ride and handling are at the top of its class, too.
MORE: Read our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica review
That's a great foundation, and reason enough to name it our Best Car To Buy, which we did last November. The Pacifica edged ahead of worthy rivals like the Chevy Bolt EV and Volvo S90.
The Pacifica does extra. Its twin fold-away rows of seats transform it from people mover to cargo hauler in about 30 seconds, if you're slow. An in-car vacuum, wireless hub, twin-screen Blu-Ray entertainment and surround-view cameras? That's stuff you can't find on many of its minivan rivals.
Most important, the Pacifica earns excellent scores in every possible crash test, and has advanced safety features on tap, everything from active lane control and adaptive cruise control, to automatic parking assistance.
MORE: Read all about our Best Car To Buy 2017 awards
Earlier this winter, we took delivery of a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited, the gas-only model. It arrived with fewer than 150 miles, and now has been broken-in, with its fuel-economy log showing some impressive numbers very early in its life. For the record, it's rated at 18 mpg city, 28 highway, and 22 combined.
It's about as well equipped as Chrysler builds them. For its base price of $42,495, it includes a rearview camera; blind-spot monitors; remote start; keyless ignition; a capless fuel filler; power sliding side doors; power tailgate; in-car vacuum; stow-away second and third-row seats, the third-row seat powering away; power front seats; heated and ventilated front seats; heated second-row seats; heated steering wheel; navigation; satellite radio with real-time traffic data; 18-inch wheels; and a panoramic sunroof. Whew.
Options on our test vehicle include front and rear parking sensors; surround-view cameras; automatic park assist; adaptive cruise control; active lane control; automatic headlamps; and a multimedia package that includes a Blu-Ray player, multiple USB charging ports; twin video screens with HDMI and USB input, and a 115-volt power outlet.
Its final price, out the door? A lofty $47,480, including $995 destination. It's expensive, but not a whole lot more than our previous long-term vehicle, the 2016 Honda Pilot Touring.
The Pacifica also comes with 5-year, 60,0000-mile powertrain warranty along with the usual 3-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty. Like all other Pacificas, ours was built in Windsor, Ontario, otherwise known as South Detroit.
The year ahead
How will the Pacifica respond to the varied needs of our editors? We'll find out soon. The Pacifica will spend the spring cruising the eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast. It's already hauled home coolers full of Cajun delights and a few pounds of Mardi Gras beads.
Big miles loom in its summer. It'll spend time in the Rockies with fur kids and in the Great Plains with human kids. There's a coast-to-coast journey on its dance card, too.
We'll tell you whether we would have ordered it with less equipment (more is nearly impossible). We'll show you the things we love about it, and what we don't like, too. We'll post regular fuel economy updates, talk about its infotainment and safety systems, and show you the boggling combinations of people and stuff we wedge in it.
Along the way, we'll put it through some other chores, to figure out if we've missed something in naming it our Best Car To Buy.
Follow along with us, and tell us in the comments below if you have a task or a question in mind for our long-term road test.