NEWS

Chrysler Pacifica Still (Mostly) Pleases 2 Years Into Ownership

24-chrysler-pacifica-2017-instrument-panel--interior.jpg 2017 Chrysler Pacifica | Cars.com photo by Angela Conners

Two years into any relationship, it’s practical — and sometimes long overdue — to decide whether to fish or cut bait. Well, send us another tackle box, ‘cuz we’re casting a long line on our long-term minivan and Best of 2017 purchase, the Chrysler Pacifica.

Related: Chrysler Pacifica Vs. Honda Odyssey: Which Minivan Is the Car Seat Check Champ?

We bought the Pacifica two years ago, days after voting the then-all-new minivan our favorite overall vehicle of the year (albeit a month before we announced the news). After making its rounds among our reviewers in 2017, it’s spent most of 2018 as a workhorse for Cars.com’s multimedia team, hauling loads of equipment to auto shows, multicar Challenges and more. We also matched it up against a minivan-alternative SUV in the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, then against a redesigned rival in the 2018 Honda Odyssey. The Pacifica turned in mixed results: Editors deemed the Atlas a better family package but gave the Pacifica the nod over its Honda rival.

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Two years in, we’ve logged some 28,000 miles on the trusty van. In that span, repairs have included four recalls and one service campaign: one recall for a second-row seat belt that could cause the adjacent belt to unlatch, two recalls and the service action for faulty powertrain software, and a fourth recall for a loose cover on the automatic transmission’s manual Park release. (Attentive readers may also notice three more recalls on the Chrysler minivan at the time of this writing, but none applied to our particular Pacifica.)

The five fixes for our van came at no out-of-pocket cost, but a few other services did: three oil changes, one tire rotation, replacement wiper blades, a burnt-out taillight bulb replacement and a loose rear wiper fix, for a grand total of $343. That’s atop some $4,000 spent in fuel at an average of 19.7 mpg over two years, including estimated totals for a few missed entries in the logbook. That mileage falls short of the minivan’s 21 mpg in combined EPA estimates, but our two years involved periodic idling to recharge multimedia equipment. Oh, and we dressed it up for Halloween once.

In recent months, editors noted some low-speed lurching from the Pacifica’s nine-speed automatic transmission. Melissa Klauda, Cars.com’s assistant managing editor for multimedia, described the nine-speed’s tendency to “catch for a second or two and lurch the car forward before shifting gears.”

The drivetrain “seemingly lugs and then slams into gear,” Production Editor Brian Normile said, noting that it often manifests in the cycle of acceleration and braking during urban traffic.

“It seems to upshift right before we ease off the accelerator pedal, and then the transmission panics, the car lurches and then — bang — it downshifts,” Normile explained. “It’s almost impossible to recreate intentionally.”

Transmission troubles aside, editors hailed the Pacifica’s mix of practicality and drivability — the former characteristic of most minivans, the latter more particular to what Chrysler nailed.

Related: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Vs. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas: He Said, She Said

Normile lauded its “surprisingly quick acceleration [and] smooth ride,” adding that it’s “just the right height for easy access for individuals who might have difficulty getting up from a lower vehicle or climbing up into a taller one.”

Ditto its cargo-hauling skills.

“It’s been very capable as a support vehicle for our crew,” said Evan Sears, Cars.com’s assistant managing editor for photography. “We regularly load it down with sandbags and all manner of large stands, ladders and people. We’ve even loaded a jib arm in there without having to fully disassemble it. We also stand on top of it to get better shooting angles.”

The Pacifica’s Stow ‘n Go seats, a differentiator that stands out when you need big-league cargo capacity, are another bonus. (Did we ever tell you about that time we went camping in it and even stowed 10-foot-plus standup paddleboards inside?)

“Being able to reconfigure the interior on the fly and have the seats stow completely out of the way, not just fold, is insanely convenient,” Sears continued. “That level of versatility should be standard on any such large passenger vehicle. However, it should also be noted that the second-row middle seat doesn’t stow, and we almost never have it installed. It lives at our studio in some forgotten corner.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated July 8, 2019, with a revised figure for out-of-pocket expenses.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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