Chrysler's minivans have led their class with fold-away seating in two rows. The Pacifica retains that flexible layout and makes it standard across the lineup, while adding a couple of touches that make it easier to convert the van from cargo duty to passenger duty.
According to the spec sheet, the Pacifica is now the longest of all the minivans. It's 203.6 inches long, rides on a 121.6-inch wheelbase, and is 79.6 inches wide. Curb weight starts at 4,330 pounds, in base models without the hybrid system.
Interior space of 197.3 cubic feet gets doled out mostly to humans. The Pacifica sports 165 cubic feet of passenger space, with 140.5 cubic feet of it behind the first row, 87.5 behind the second row, and 32.3 behind the third row.
The Pacifica's seating system makes the most of that space. Rival minivans only can fold away their third-row seats and fold down or move forward their second-row chairs. The Pacifica can tuck the second-row seats under the floor completely. It's capable of carrying up to eight people or dozens of sheets of 4-by-8 building material—a flexibility that it owes to Chrysler's substantial business in the cargo-van industry.
It's one of the most flexible and spacious cars on the road today and it aces our comfort test. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Those stow-away second-row seats make the Pacifica the most useful minivan available. This year, the system has been made more useful with a couple of tweaks to the way the seats fold into the floor.
In front, the driver and passenger are outfitted with plenty of space in all directions, and a pair of seats that give a commanding view of the road, and are surrounded by deep storage bins at the dash, in the doors, and in the console between the seats. There's no space lost to a shift lever, because the Pacifica has a rotary shift dial.
The gas-powered version of the Pacifica comes with what's called Stow ‘n’ Go Assist. It's a power feature on the driver-side or on both sliding side doors. It's simply a button that powers the front seats out of the way, so the second-row seats can be folded away more quickly.
That process is simple. A carpeted panel flips up and out of the way to expose deep bins that can be used for storage when the seats are in use. (On hybrid minivans, the batteries take up this space, and the seats do not stow.) A flip of a lever, and the second-row seats fold fully into the floor, requiring just a firm press to latch them into place.
The second-row seats are comfortable and spacious for adults, better than in the last-generation Town & Country. That's the result of more padding, which addresses one of the few complaints with the setup. They also have a tilt feature that permits easier access to the third-row seat when a child safety seat is LATCHed into place in the second row.
That third-row seat is the best for adult accommodations of any minivan, though not many adults we know want to be in the way-back row. Not only is it easy to climb into, it has enough head room for tall passengers, and the seat cushion has real comfort.
The third-row seat can power-recline on some models, and can power-fold into the floor on some.
On many versions, the third-row seat is surrounded by cupholders, small-item storage, and all kinds of USB charging ports and HDMI inputs for the available rear-seat entertainment system.
Fold all the seats behind the front row into the floor, and the Pacifica can haul lots of 4-by-8 sheets of construction material. It's possible, even if the plushly finished rear seats on some versions would give most drivers pause.