The 2023 Chrysler Pacifica only has three competitors in the current crop of minivans that are on sale. But each other minivan has their own unique characteristic from the all-round Honda Odyssey to the luxurious Kia Carnival SX to the efficient Toyota Sienna. How does the Pacifica stand up against the other minivans?
Engine – Like the Odyssey and the Carnival, the 2023 Pacifica is powered by a V6 engine. It’s a 3.6L Pentastar V6 which produces 287 hp & 262 lb-ft of torque (214 kW & 355 Nm). Power is right in between the Honda & the Kia but interestingly, it’s the torque as the others. With a curb weight of 2,215 kg (4,883 lbs), the Chrysler Pacifica’s engine has enough grunt. It won’t pin you to the back of your seat but it doesn’t feel underpowered while setting off from a stop or going up a hill or merging onto a highway.
Fuel Economy – One of the biggest drawbacks of this engine is the fuel economy, particularly when it’s paired with the available AWD system. It is rated for 14.1 L/100km (16.7 MPG) in a city and 9.4 L/100km (25 MPG) on a highway. In the real world, those numbers are accurate. Perhaps if you have a light foot, you can perhaps get slightly better highway fuel economy but in a city, it’ll be close to that 14 L/100km mark. During my time with the minivan, I averaged 13.6 L/100km (17.3 MPG). The front-wheel-drive variant of the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica can get better fuel economy as it is rated for 12.4 L/100km (18.9 MPG) in a city and 8.4 L/100km (28 MPG) on a highway.
Transmission – The other big letdown of this powertrain is the 9-speed automatic transmission. The shifts between gears are buttery smooth. There’s no issue with that at all. But the transmission is slow to react to quick throttle inputs and it has a tendency to be indecisive as to which gear it should be in. I found myself needing to allow for a lot of space between the time I put my foot down and start my lane change to the time a vehicle in the lange I’m changing to caught up to behind me.
Braking – In emergency situations, the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica’s brakes stop the minivan in an average stopping distance. During city driving, the Pacifica can be stopped smoothly as the brake pedal has a lot of travel. Perhaps a bit too much for some but in the end, that’s what helps the minivan with smooth and gradual stops.
Handling – Unlike the Toyota Sienna, which is the only other minivan on sale with AWD, the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica has a physical driveshaft between the rear wheels and the engine. In the Sienna, it uses an electric motor to make an AWD-e system. The drawback is that the electric motor is limited by the battery charge and it’s not a very powerful motor. That is not the case with this Pacifica as the engine can send more torque to the rear wheels than in the Sienna. This isn’t a very sophisticated AWD system but I’m sure it gets the job done when the roads are covered with snow. I had no such luck in testing this AWD system as the weather was quite warm while I had the minivan on demo. Elsewhere, the steering is light for ease of maneuverability and body roll is acceptable for this type of vehicle.
Ride Comfort – The Chrysler Pacifica is a family vehicle and as such, the ride needs to be really good. I’m happy to say that it is. The suspension is soft and easily absorbs potholes on poorly maintained city streets. I also found the driver’s seat comfortable for my body size with good padding and a supportive position. Additionally, the seating position provides good visibility even though I always lower the seats to their lowest position due to my height of 6’4”.
Interior Space – If you have a big family or need to carry a lot of stuff often, then a minivan is the easiest and most straightforward type of vehicle on sale.
Front occupants always have the most amount of space and this minivan is no different. Plenty of legroom for my above average height and plenty of headroom. The back seats unfortunately do not slide but they do recline. Behind my tall driving position, there is an ample amount of space for myself. More so for average sized individuals or kids. The third row space is pretty generous. It’s tight for my height but shorter adults or kids shouldn’t have too much of an issue with space. Getting into those back seats is a bit tight if you tilt the seats forward but you can also get in from between the 2nd row seats if optioned with the captain’s chairs.
Cargo capacity behind the 3rd row is generous with a large cavity where the 3rd row seats can fold into. Because this demo vehicle has the Theater Family Group, the 3rd row seats are completely power operated. You can push a button in the trunk and the seats effortlessly fold into that back recess. To fold the 2nd row captain’s chairs, the Stow ‘N Go function is the easiest and most clever invention since power sliding doors; which this minivan also has. The front seat needs to slide forward first but that’s simple thanks to a button on the lower portion of the b-pillar. Once the seat is forward, simply pull up on the floor tab, collapse the backrest of the 2nd row seat and then pull on a white tab to unlock the seat and with a bit of force, push it into the floor. Then simply close the floor cover and push that little button on the b-pillar again to return the seat to its previous position. Now, the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica has 3,978 L (140.5 cu-ft) of cargo carrying capacity.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The 2023 Pacifica is a smooth driving and quiet minivan. The comfortable ride pairs well with the quiet cabin to provide a serene driving experience for families.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2023 Chrysler Pacifica is not a cheap minivan. It starts at $55,690 CAD ($38,020 USD) with this Limited trim and the extras that it is equipped with will set you back $74,525 CAD ($57,185 USD).
Gadgets – The Pacifica is not missing anything if you spec it up like how this one is equipped. The leather upholstery is soft, the front & second row heated seats get hot quickly but also do a great job of cooling in the summer, there’s also a heated steering wheel, the panoramic sunroof lets in a lot of light but only for the first 2 rows, the power sliding doors and power liftgate can be opened with a wave of your foot, surround view cameras can be optioned, this one only has a backup camera, there are sunshades for the 2nd and 3rd rows, there’s a wireless charging pad in the front, the kids can stay occupied in the back seats with the optional 10” touchscreens that have built-in Amazon Fire TV, you can keep eyes on them through the “Fam-cam”, and there’s even a built-in vacuum for quick cleaning of the floor & seats.
In the front, the 10.1” touchscreen displayed the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity. Unlike in the past, I haven’t had any connectivity issues between this system and my Android phone when using Android Auto. The system allows for some degree of customizability with different widgets being displayed in your favorites menu.
Interior Design – The cabin of the Pacifica is pretty straightforward to use. The important and most used functions, like climate controls, have physical buttons and knobs. Everything else, like heated seats, are turned on or off through the touchscreen. There are a lot of knobs on the center console but the important one, being the gear selector, is significantly larger than the volume knob that’s near it. So there shouldn’t be too much confusion as to which one you’re grabbing.
The materials throughout the cabin of this higher spec Pacifica are pretty good to the touch. As mentioned earlier, the leather upholstery is soft, the dashboard stitching looks decent, and the plastics don’t feel too cheap. Unfortunately, it does use gloss black plastics around the center console which means that after a short time, it will have scratches, fingerprints, dust, mucus, coffee stains, you name it. It’s not going to look good.
One minor issue I encountered was with the armrests in the center. If the backrest of the front seats are too far forward, the armrests touch the center console and begin to squeak every time you put any pressure on it. But if the backrests of the seats are just far back enough so that the armrests don’t touch, there won’t be any noises.
Exterior Design – The 2023 Chrysler Pacifica is not a bad looking minivan. It definitely has more style than the Honda Odyssey but it’s not as polarizing as the Toyota Sienna. It has some muscle car looks with the big grille and optional black wheels.
Safety – On this Limited trim, the only safety options that can be added are surround view cameras, front & rear parking sensors with emergency stop, and parking assist with parallel & perpendicular ability. Everything else from automatic emergency braking to lane keep assist, to blind spot sensors, to rear cross traffic alert and much more are standard across all trim levels. Additionally, the 2022 model year received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS. I would assume this 2023 model year would also receive the award if all of the tests remained the same.
Warranty – The 2023 Chrysler Pacifica is backed by a 3 year / 60,000 km basic warranty and a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. If you opt for the PHEV version of the Pacifica, the battery pack is covered by a 10 year / 160,000 km warranty. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For more information on American warranty, click here.
Conclusion – So how does the Chrysler Pacifica stack up against other minivans? In some areas pretty good, in others not so much.
The good stuff first, it’s very easy to transform this minivan from one that carries passengers to one that carries a lot of cargo. The engine has plenty of power despite the hefty weight of this vehicle. The suspension is soft which in turn provides a comfortable ride. And finally, if you go for the Limited or Pinnacle trim, the interior is a nice place to be in for long periods.
The not so good stuff includes the city fuel economy if you go for the V6 with the AWD system. On highways, it’s not too bad. There is the PHEV version which will help with city fuel economy but it will cost you more. Speaking of which, this is already one of the more expensive minivans on sale. But the biggest negative is the reliability. That’s something that I cannot test in a week but I can tell you that on this demo vehicle with less than 5,000 km, the auto start/stop system stopped working. It didn’t affect the drivability of the Pacifica but you don’t expect any faults as such low mileage. You could get extended warranty, or trade it in after the warranty runs out or after the lease period but if you plan on keeping it for longer than the warranty, it is a risk in my opinion.
Thank you to Stellantis Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Chrysler.ca