My kids are sold on this minivan!
I’m a Millennial with old-school tastes. No, I don’t mean I like classic cars, I mean I think basic is better, and I haven’t upgraded to new technology that lets me hook up my phone to my vehicle, or whatever else the cool kids are doing. Give me a CD player (I’m not quite old enough to obsess over a cassette player) and automatic windows and I’m happy.
For that and other reasons, going to a car dealership can be a little terrifying for me. I mean, old-school tastes aside, I’ve also never asked a salesperson about horsepower or the number of Vs in the engine.
That’s a roundabout way of saying I’m new to reviewing cars — this is, in fact, my first vehicle review. I’ve read enough of them by now to know what typical car reviews should include. But that’s just it. We have enough of those on this site and in every corner of the internet already. Why don’t we forget about numbers and specs for a while and talk about minivan life? Like, real minivan life.
Seating and Interior
We – my husband and I – installed the car seats; it didn’t seem any easier or harder to install than in our current minivan (a 2015 Honda Odyssey). Truth be told, I’ve never done it all by myself, but he didn’t seem like he was struggling any more than usual.
That being said, I am in charge of supervising car seat set-up because I know who sits where, based on way too many variables.
For context, my kids are two, five, and seven years old. When my youngest was born, our seating plan included the youngest in the middle row, me beside her, and the older two sat in the third row. My oldest gets carsick really easily, and we quickly realized that being all the way in the back, where bumps and turns feel exaggerated, didn’t help. When she moved to the middle row, my typical middle child didn’t want to be left alone in the back. So, all three moved to the middle row. Why is any of that relevant?
Other first impressions: I initially didn’t notice the wireless charging station in the console. However, I happened to throw my phone in a little slot by the cup holders and a blue light came on; so, it’s not just a little hole for your junk, it’s way more useful!
Well, my fellow minivan-lovers, the version of the Pacifica I drove didn’t have three seats in the second row, which completely messed with my seating plan. The youngest needed to stay in the front, and so did the oldest, who got to play with the touchscreen monitor for longer than her brother (we’ll circle back around to that in a bit). The middle child had to sit in the back, but not alone because the Pacifica gets major points for having enough room for my husband to sit all the way in the back while I drive, which doesn’t happen often.
The middle row has seat warmers, but that’s useless for the next few years since my kids won’t be able to feel the warmth through their car seats; however, it is an amazing feature for those who travel sans car seats.
Infotainment and Tech
One of the coolest features in the Pacifica is the FamCam on the infotainment system. There’s a little camera above the second-and third-row seats, and now, parents can finally give the eyes in the back of their heads a little rest. If you’re anything like me, you know as cool as FamCam sounds, though, it’s an easy distraction while driving. I would probably just stick to the little pull-down mirror above the rearview that lets you easily see every fight happening behind you (as if you couldn’t already hear it).
There are a ton of things to mess around with on the infotainment screen — too many, if you ask me.
Circling back around, it’s nice there are two screens mounted to the headrests of the front row, but it’s annoying if you’ve got three kids — I almost prefer one big ceiling-mounted screen, centred perfectly for everyone in the back (admittedly, this is an option for other trims).
With my youngest in the middle row, my poor middle child in the third row had to watch his older sister play all the fun games; he wasn’t happy about that, and we had to promise to take him back out on his own. And we did.
Other Interior Features
Another interior highlight: the built-in vacuum, the handiest thing ever. It reaches every nook and cranny of this large vehicle, including the front seat, because sometimes adults leave trails of crumbs, as well. There’s also a really convenient umbrella holder on the side of the front passenger’s seat. It’s such a simple thing to add and so unnecessary, but at the same time, so awesome!
The trunk is pretty big. Whether you’re trying to cram $450 worth of who-knows-what from Costco; or your preference of two strollers or a double stroller, it’ll fit. If you aren’t outnumbered by children (yet), then you have the option to automatically fold down the backseats, both or either one individually, allowing for a lot more trunk space — room to stock up on the jumbo-size boxes of diapers.
The CD player I had hoped for is actually a Blu-ray player for the screens in the back. The USB-C charging ports seemed to make my husband the most excited — I don’t understand the extreme fascination, but I’ll admit it is pretty cool.
At first, I couldn’t figure how to switch the speedometer to miles per hour, and thought maybe Canadian-market Chrysler just couldn’t; in hindsight, that was a silly assumption. Of course, it can; if you switch to a digital readout, a miles-per-hour option is unlocked, and you’re ready for a trip across the border (provided it ever safely reopens for travel).
The Pacifica picks up way faster than my 2015 Honda Odyssey. It’s like a mini jolt of energy every time I step on the gas pedal. Who needs coffee? I’ll tell you who doesn’t need coffee — Pacifica drivers. It drives really smooth and steers nicely. It feels like you’re in a huge piece of machinery while at the same time driving something much lighter than 5,000 pounds, give or take a couple.
As a side note, I found it’s actually quite loud with the windows down; I can hear every rev during acceleration, or even start-up, ideally something you want to do before the baby falls asleep. Final note: If you start veering into another lane without your turn signal on, it nudges you back. That’s a cool trick.
With the click of a button, you can pull your side mirrors in, and that’s pretty handy. It doesn’t really change things for me; I’d probably still forget to pull them in, regardless of that control being manual or automatic. One thing that caught me off guard was the four-way signals coming on when I pressed the button to open the back doors. It’s basically the equivalent of the stop sign popping out of the side of a slowing school bus.
Make a note: the button to close the trunk, usually located on the tailgate, is actually inside the trunk. Don’t worry though, it gives you ample time to get out of the way before closing. I had no luck with the sensor below the rear bumper that’s supposed to open the trunk with a flick of your foot; I’ll chalk that up to my small feet.
As I get out of the Pacifica for the final time, I’m reminded how difficult of a task that is — for someone like myself, the drop-down out of every possible exit from this beast is pretty high. I’m basically jumping out of an airplane to get out, though I guess I’ve always wanted to go sky-diving.
Upon pressing every single button that I could find, I’m thoroughly impressed. It’s got everything but the kitchen sink — maybe Chrysler is saving that for the next upgrade.
One feature I didn’t touch on, which Chrysler plays up as a Pacifica highlight, is its Stow-n-Go seating. I can see the usefulness of it, but I would probably just use that space for more kid toy storage. I don’t hate that idea.
If we did more road trips (or maybe had more money) this would be an amazing minivan for my family. Nevertheless, it is an awesome minivan with features to delight an entire family — even my neighbour, who despises minivans, had a change of heart at the sight of the Pacifica.
Personally, I probably wouldn’t get the utmost use of this minivan, as many features would go unused (just like many features on my cell phone). Upon building and pricing out the version I would prefer on Chrysler’s website – no peanut butter, er, “Caramel”-tinted interior for me, please — I think I would be equally happy with a Pacifica Touring, at roughly $15,000 less (depending on options).
That being said, my kids loved the Pinnacle trim! If someone wanted to gift me the Pacifica, I would be forever grateful for their sake. Who doesn’t want to be a hero to their kids and the cool mom in the neighbourhood?