2020 Chrysler Pacifica

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
July 18, 2019

Buying tip

Yes, the old Dodge Grand Caravan is still kicking around for some reason, and there’s almost no justification for choosing one over a

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is everything you could want in a large family vehicle, crossovers be damned.

The minivan is not dead yet: The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica carries the family-hauler torch with pride. As far as people-movers go, this bubbly bus is among the best, earning an 7.2 rating overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We liked it so much we named it our Best Car to Buy 2017. For the 2020 model year, the Pacifica gets a handful of changes to keep it fresh, including a new Red S appearance package that features a red leather interior with grey piping and stitching, black exterior finishes, 20-inch wheels, advanced safety features, a 20-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a rear seat entertainment system, and a tri-pane panoramic sunroof. The Voyager name is back as well; it replaces the L and LX trims of the Pacifica to create a value- and fleet-oriented option. The Pacifica Hybrid carries on as one of our favorite green cars—a Best Car To Buy in its own right, like the Pacifica itself.

The Pacifica’s sleek design helps it stand out over other minivans, and details such as chrome trim or black accents on the S package models make it more attractive than competitors. Inside, the cabin is laden with high-quality materials that give it a near-luxury feel.

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Power comes exclusively from a 287-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 paired with a 9-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, or from a plug-in hybrid 3.6-liter Atkinson cycle V-6 with about 260 hp in all. Both engines offer plenty of punch and acceleration, though the hybrid is weighed down somewhat by the extra batteries. Handling is taut and responsive for such a large vehicle, and the suspension is compliant and comfortable over long highway journeys, as it should be for a minivan.

With its second- and third-row fold-away seats, the Pacifica is nearly unmatched in its people- and stuff-hauling capabilities, featuring seating for up to 8 people and over 197 cubic feet of interior space.

An IIHS Top Safety Pick last year, the Pacifica delivers on crash test results and available active safety features, though only blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert and a rearview camera are standard. Available adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and a surround-view camera system make this one of the safest family vehicles on the road when so equipped.

Though updated numbers aren’t available yet, the Pacifica managed 22 overall mpg in the 2019 model year, and that figure should stay the same. Those looking for even more efficiency would be wise to consider the additional cost of the hybrid model, which yields 82 MPGe on a fully-charged battery.

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica

Styling

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is about as stylish as a minivan can be.

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica throws out the boxy minivan mold in favor of big swoopy lines and dramatic curves, and the results are mostly a hit. An impressive interior earns a 7 out of 10 for style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Chrysler briefly tried on a new design language with the now-dead 200 sedan and carried it over to the Pacifica minivan with pleasing results. There’s hardly a straight line to be found, and with bright metal trim or blacked-out accents, it’s tough to tell that this minivan is as tall and wide as it is.

With thoughtful details like a sliding door track tucked under the rear windows and LED running lights on some trims, the Pacifica stands out among its minivan compatriots, and the story continues inside. Soft touch plastics, fine leather, and color schemes like rich browns and even red make the interior one of the best in its class, especially when combined with its functionality.

A new Red S appearance package this year adds deep red leather, which shouldn’t look this cool on something this functional and family-friendly, but it does.

 

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica

Performance

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is geared for comfort over all, and pulls it off with aplomb.

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica makes use of its potent powertrain for confidence-inspiring acceleration and a smooth but surprisingly responsive ride. We give it 7 out of 10 here, with a couple of bonus points for its impressive energy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All Pacifica come with a 3.6-liter V-6 found in many Fiat Chrysler products, this time with 287 horsepower and a 9-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid powertrain is also available, and makes 260 horsepower from an Atkinson cycle version of the same V-6 and a 16-kwh battery. Chrysler claims nearly 30 miles of electric-only driving range on the Pacifica Hybrid as well.

The familiar engine provides smooth acceleration, and while the 9-speed automatic has had its struggles in other products, we’ve got no qualms with its quick and hardly noticeable shifts here.

The Pacifica sports front struts and rear trailing arms, as well as electric power steering, and masters them all with good tuning. Though it lacks available all-wheel drive like the Toyota Sienna (and all three-row crossover SUVs, for that matter), the Pacifica is composed and responsive on twistier roads, and the ride quality is excellent, putting some much more expensive vehicles on notice. The steering has just enough weight to deflect small bumps but to transmit good road feel, and in low range the Pacifica can dart with impressive skill through tightly coiled roads. A minivan that handles? Bring it on—but first, tweak the brake pedal feel, which goes stiff when it needs to be more progressive.

The Pacifica Hybrid lets more road and powertrain noise into its cabin—there’s less sound deadening—but doesn’t suffer much for the added few hundred pounds of batteries inside. 

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica

Comfort & Quality

Minivans are among the most useful vehicles on the road, and the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is proof.

Minivans get a bad rap for being uncool, but in terms of practicality, they’re second to none. The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is proof of this, with one of the most comfortable and useful interiors you can buy. The only point it misses here is for opulence and stunning fit and finish, and in a less demanding new-car world, it might get that point. For here and now, it’s a 9 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Pacifica checks in with a 121.6-inch wheelbase and a 203.6-inch overall length, but that bulk translates to a cavernous interior. At 197.3 cubic feet of total interior space, the Pacifica can haul more people and stuff than most vehicles, including other minivans. The rear cargo hold can swallow up to 140.5 cubic feet with all its rear seats stowed under the floor, and even with every bench in place, there’s 32.3 cubes to work with in the back.

Captains’ chairs can be had in the second row, but the Pacifica is able to carry up to 8 people with two bench seats out back, and a power-assist button is available for the middle seats when folding them out of the way for the second row.

There’s also ample storage throughout the cabin, not including the Stow ‘N Go seating system, which gets skipped on the Pacifica Hybrid (its batteries live where the middle seats would stow). Cubbies and deep console bins can swallow tablets, water bottles, and pretty much everything else you could carry on your person.

In terms of comfort, the Pacifica delivers yet again up front, with soft, supportive seats that are good for long journeys. The rear is a similar story, but the under-floor storage system does hamper the amount for vertical legroom rear passengers have. We’re sure the kids won’t mind though, with plenty of USB charging ports and even an HDMI input with the available rear seat entertainment system.

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica

Safety

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica hasn’t been fully crash tested yet, but past scores and available safety features are encouraging.

Though it’s been partially tested and has minimal changes this year, we’re unable to give the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica a definitive score just yet for safety, but we’ll carry over last year’s until more data appears. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The NHTSA saw fit to give the Pacifica a 5-star overall rating for safety this year, but the IIHS hasn’t tested the new model year yet. Still, a Top Safety Pick award for three years running is encouraging, and with the only blemish being sub-par headlight scores and an “Acceptable” passenger side front overlap test, it’s safe to assume the 2020 Pacifica is… well, safe.

The new Voyager editions of the Pacifica do not come with automatic emergency braking, which we consider a major omission on any new vehicle in 2019. Touring models get blind-spot monitors and rear parking sensors, while active features like automatic emergency braking, active lane control, active parking assist, a surround-view camera system, and adaptive cruise control are all available as part of the Advanced SafetyTec Group on every trim level, an option box we suggest that you check.

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica

Features

The lower trims have been jettisoned into a new Voyager model, but the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is still decent value, if not slightly pricey.

For 2020 the Chrysler Pacifica’s two lowest trim levels have become the “new” Voyager model aimed at fleet sales and value-conscious buyers. We give it 8 out of 10, based on the trim we’d choose, the Pacifica Touring—with points above average for its options, its infotainment system, and its value. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We suggest you skip over the $28,480 Voyager. It has some fine features, including 17-inch wheels and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, but automatic emergency braking is an option, and no Voyager can be fitted with Chrysler’s fold-away second- and third-row seats.

In our view the 2020 Pacifica family starts with the Touring trim. It comes with power-sliding rear doors, remote start, an eight-way power driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, and the handy Stow ‘N Go seating system. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth is standard too, as are blind-spot monitors and rear parking sensors.

Active safety features are available across the range in a package that includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and more. We suggest the Touring trim with the optional Advanced SafetyTec package for the best possible value.

The Touring L and Touring L Plus trims add a handful of features such as retractable third row window shades, illuminated cup holders, and other goodies, while the Limited trim features everything from leather upholstery to an integrated vacuum cleaner for those pesky messes the kids are always making. Features such as a 20-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, an upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, and a rear seat touchscreen entertainment system are all available for the Limited and other trims. 

At the top of the lineup, we’d choose a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It’s more expensive, but the 30 miles of driving range and combined 82 MPGe may be worth the extra cost—especially when federal and local tax credits factor in. The hybrid model starts with the Touring trim as well as the gas model, but the Stow’ ‘N Go system is not available on any hybrid because that space is occupied by the battery pack.

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is reasonably efficient, but the plug-in hybrid version sets it apart.

Based on its most recent fuel-economy figures, the Chrysler Pacifica is one of the most efficient minivans on the market, especially taking the plug-in hybrid version into consideration. We give it a 4 here based on the gas-powered version, but the plug-in hybrid’s ratings would be a couple of points higher. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The non-hybrid Pacifica has been rated at 19 city, 28 highway, and 22 combined mpg for its one powertrain, with a slightly heavier Limited spec model losing 1 mpg in the city. That’s slightly above average for the segment, and competitive with crossover SUVs with similar (but not as competent) hauling capabilities.

The Pacifica Hybrid managed 30 combined mpg on regular gasoline only, while a fully-charged battery yields a whopping 82 mpge or mpg equivalent, so fuel-conscious buyers would be wise to consider the extra cost of the plug-in version. The hybrid can also drive around 30 miles on electric power alone, making it good for shorter runs to town (or soccer practice) without using any gas.

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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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