The Chrysler Pacifica has been collecting awards ever since it was relaunched as a minivan back in 2017. Taken as far upscale as it’s ever been by the automaker that invented minivans in the first place, the Pacifica is packed with just about everything a family could ask for.
It features an award-winning interior, tons of safety equipment, three rows of seating, a pair of power sliding doors, and a cavernous cabin that can be easily switched from people mover to cargo hauler on the go.
Feature content included navigation, climate-controlled front seats, rear-seat entertainment screens, built-in Wi-Fi, automatic multi-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a parking camera system, premium audio, and more.
Shoppers after a luxurious drive with loads of room for people will likely find the Pacifica delivers what they’re after.
Standard models are powered by a 3.6L V6 engine, with output approaching 300 hp. All units were front-wheel drive, and come with an automatic transmission. (Chrysler has added all-wheel drive for the 2021 model year.)
Also available was the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. This particular model is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that adds electrification to the driveline by way of an electric motor and battery. Compared to the standard model, the Pacifica Hybrid saves fuel in all driving conditions. When convenient, the driver can plug the van in to recharge its battery for some emissions-free driving.
With a full battery, the Pacifica Hybrid can drive several dozen kilometres on stored electricity before the gas engine kicks in, working alongside the electric motor for a still-efficient drive.
What Owners Like
Owners tend to rave about the Pacifica’s comfortable ride, ample power, upscale cabin, approachable technology and features, and generous space and storage provisions to keep cargo and smaller items organized on the move.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners wish for a more precise feel to the Pacifica’s steering and brakes, while others report a few low-budget interior trimmings that detract from the high-end feel. Some owners also wish for a smaller fuel bill on non-hybrid models.
Pro Tip: Check for Software Updates
Often, a vehicle’s manufacturer will release updated software that improves, corrects, or optimizes the operation of one or more vehicle systems. Software updates are usually performed at a dealer while the vehicle is in for regular servicing. Sometimes, a software update can prevent a problem from happening, or improve the safety or efficiency of the vehicle.
If the unit you purchase wasn’t exclusively dealer serviced, you’ll want to check with a local dealership to see if any software updates might be outstanding for maximum peace of mind.
Pro Tip: Check Hybrid Equipment
On Pacifica Hybrid models, be sure to carefully check the PHEV-specific components. For instance, be sure the charge door latches and releases properly, that the fuel door release is in proper working order, and that the included charging cable and all associated wiring is in good shape. Check for damage to the insulation on the cord, bent or damaged prongs, and any other cracking or splitting. Plug the charging cord into the vehicle’s charge port and release it several times.
If any of these pricey-to-replace components is damaged or defective, now’s the time to find out.
Pro Tip: If It’s Supposed to Move, Make Sure It Moves
Move, slide, flip, open, and manipulate everything you can. This includes the sliding doors, windows, folding and flipping seats, motorized tailgate, seat adjustments, power-adjustable steering wheel, and more. These components are vital to the Pacifica’s flexibility and ease of use, so you’ll want to discover any trouble before you buy.
The Test Drive
Numerous Pacifica owners have experienced jolting gear changes from their vehicles – typically between first and second gear, and possibly accompanied by poor throttle response, or jerky, lurchy power delivery.
On your test drive, be sure to work the vehicle at various speeds, and at varying throttle input levels. If the transmission doesn’t shift smoothly and consistently in all conditions, have the vehicle assessed by a technician before you buy.
Earlier, higher-mileage units may be more suspect. Here’s a lengthy forum discussion with more information on the topic. If you experience this problem after buying, ask a servicing dealership to reference technical service bulletin (TSB) 21-027-17 for a possible fix involving a software update.
Some owners have reported issues with the Pacifica’s central touchscreen interface that involves crashing, lagging, failing to boot at start-up, and more. Be sure to work this system through all possible functions, powering it on and off with the ignition several times on your test drive. In some cases, the fix is a simple hard reset; in others, pricey parts may be required.
Remember those software updates mentioned above? Those can help prevent problems with the infotainment system, too.
Charge the Hybrid
If you’re test-driving a Pacifica Hybrid, be sure to plug in the connected charger, and confirm that the hybrid battery is charging. Using both a Level 1 and Level 2 charger to perform this test – twice is ideal.
If you see an error message, or can confirm that the battery isn’t charging, the battery pack may require a new battery heater. Numerous owners have reported this issue at very low mileage, and had it addressed under warranty. Most have not.
Some owners have reported metallic popping sounds from the Pacifica’s suspension over bumps in the road. If you notice this on your test drive, be sure to have the vehicle’s suspension and front-end cleared by a dealer technician before you buy. Some owners have reported the need for suspension components to be adjusted or replaced, even at low mileage, to eliminate suspension noise problems, often under warranty.
The Chrysler Pacifica owner’s community has done a solid job of documenting several fairly serious issues that used shoppers should be aware of. Owner forum complaints are not accurate predictors of long-term reliability, though they can provide clues that can benefit used car shoppers.
Our recommendation? If you’re set on a Pacifica or Pacifica Hybrid, skip the more complaint-prone 2017 model year, and buy a unit that’s been continually seen by its servicing dealer on a regular basis.
Buying a used Pacifica whose servicing history is not advised, and neither is buying a Pacifica Hybrid without a full pre-purchase inspection by a hybrid-trained technician in a dealer setting.
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars
Here’s a list of recalls.