Spring has shaken out its living-room rug here in Georgia, and Mother Nature has something against our long-term Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
It's been a few thousand miles of fighting her tooth and nail. In the first month in our driveway, the Pacifica sat under a vengeful flock of crows. It took two washes to obliterate the scattershot evidence they left behind.
Then came the annual haboob of yellow-green pine sperm. Pollen counts swirled around 6,000; the miasma coated the streets and the van in a thick dust guaranteed to trigger allergies in anything short of igneous rocks.
Then, severe thunderstorms slammed Atlanta in March. The Pacifica nearly lost its glass panoramic roof to tree limbs that crashed to the ground in 60-mph winds.
MORE: Read our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica review
Just last week, a suicidal wren offed itself by flying right into one of the minivan's fancy wheels.
Why don't you love the Pacifica, nature?
Gas mileage is shaping up
The earth and its creatures might still be warming to the Pacifica, but the atmosphere, she's cool to it. The Pacifica slips through the southern air regularly, on its way from Atlanta to the Redneck Riviera. So far, it's turning in nearly the numbers it should.
Our Pacifica showed up in late January with fewer than 150 miles on the clock and sporting EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 28 highway, and 22 combined.
After just 2,880 miles, the Pacifica's V-6 and 9-speed automatic feel well-seated, and they're turning in the kind of fuel economy to back up that claim. So far we've rolled 2,450 miles during our measured fuel-economy cycle, and have purchased and used 118.44 gallons of regular unleaded fuel.
Do the maths, and that rounds up to 20.7 mpg, a fine early figure for a vehicle rated at 22 mpg combined.
MORE: Read all about our Best Car To Buy 2017 awards
There's more improvement to come, we think. Our runs in the Pacifica have been with two passengers and a fairly hefty load of beach gear, not to mention one trip with a hundred pounds of delicious organic free-range pork in fully packed red Igloo coolers. On the other hand, it's been driven on flat roads with very gradual elevation changes, neatly zeroed out over the course of round trips and similar weather.
The Pacifica, we should note, already is turning in better fuel economy at this mileage than our last long-term vehicle, the Honda Pilot. The Pilot eventually reached its EPA combined rating after a few more thousand miles.
In other news
With the Pacifica, Chrysler's done its usual excellent work from a clean sheet of paper. We give it high praise on many fronts, from design to packaging, to powertrains (including the first plug-in hybrid unit in a minivan).
That's why we named it our Best Car To Buy 2017, and nothing so far has even hinted that we made the wrong decision. Crash tests have been excellent, and performance on long trips and short city runs has been exemplary.
We've been early fans of features like its fancy heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats (even before the swampy summer settles in). The blind-spot monitors are a must-have on city highways where drivers are just trying to avoid the next major infrastructure collapse in 2017 Atlanta. The surround-view cameras help us place the van perfectly in tight, stucco-bounded parking spots. The satellite radio has the extended channel band, so Yacht Rock sits on radio preset one. Life is good.
We're more neutral on the Pacifica's adaptive cruise control-it's fine but other vehicles disturb its flow by cutting it off in dense traffic-and its active lane control isn't as smooth or precise as the systems Volvo and Mercedes sell. That's true, but try finding an HDMI port--or two--or multiple USB ports in any imported-from-Europe vehicle.
Our $47,480 Pacifica Limited has a long way yet to go. In May it moves to Denver for some Rocky Mountain highs before heading to Reno, then New York, then Minneapolis for a summer stint. In fall it comes back to Georgia, and with any luck, a fully operational interstate highway system.
Along the way, we'll show you the things we love about it, and what we don't like, too. We'll post regular updates on The Car Connection's Instagram account, and we'll spend some time hauling classic car parts and water skis and--oh yeah, human children. You know, the things it was invented for.
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.