Pros: Unique plug-in hybrid; versatile Stow ‘n Go seats; great entertainment features; good looks
Cons: No cheaper base trim; top trims and Hybrid are really expensive; less-comfy second-row Stow ‘n Go seats
The 2023 Chrysler Pacifica represents the seventh year of this latest generation of Chrysler’s minivan, which is usually a year past when a car would be completely redesigned. Despite this advanced age, the Pacifica was so well done from the get-go that it remains fully competitive, and in Hybrid form, one of our top choices in the admittedly small minivan segment. Key updates two years in particular ensured that its in-car tech remained just as state-of-the-art and well-executed as it’s always been. Indeed, if that’s a priority, the Pacifica should be at the top of your list.
Ditto fuel economy, because with its plug-in hybrid powertrain and 32 miles of electric range, it’s possible for the Pacifica Hybrid to best even the sensationally efficient, hybrid-only Toyota Sienna. This efficiency is a key reason why that pair represents our top minivan choices, as they can save you $1,000 or more versus V6-only vans (including the regular Pacifica) in gas per year. That said, we put the Sienna on top in a comparison test because of price, and the scales have only tipped further since then after Chrysler jacked the price up by about $8,000 in the last two model years. The base Pacifica Hybrid is now more than $50,000 with the Pinnacle living up to its name with a price tag over $60,000. The $7,500 federal tax credit should help, but it’s unclear at this point if it’ll still apply in calendar year 2023. Basically, we really like the Pacifica Hybrid, but the economics might be tricky. So could finding one at a dealer given supply, demand and potential mark-ups.
What’s new for 2023?
The Pacifica gets a new Road Tripper package for 2023. Available on the Touring L trim levels of both gas and hybrid versions, it adds special graphics and wheels in Luster Gray with orange highlights. There’s also “Granite Crystal” exterior trim, all-weather floor mats and a roof rack (though it’s unclear whether its different than the Pacifica’s usual Stow ‘n Place rack). The gas-only version also includes the Trailer Tow group.
What are the Pacifica interior and in-car technology like?
The Pacifica interior is a lovely place to spend time. It may not be as eye-catching as the Toyota Sienna or Kia Carnival’s car-like cabins, but it’s far more appealing than the Honda Odyssey’s frumpy appliance look. Up front, there’s plenty of room to stretch out, and lots of places to stash items within easy reach. We’re especially fans of the huge cupholders, which are big enough to house two 32-ounce Nalgene water bottles side by side. The materials are nice, with good attention to detail. We were quite fond of the perforated leather seats, smooth leather steering wheel and attractive stitching in our long-term Limited test van, but things get even ritzier with the new range-topping Pinnacle trim level that adds quilted leather seats and matching cushions for the second row (above right).
As for tech, the UConnect infotainment system’s quick responses and user-friendly layout are bolstered by a big, 10.1-inch screen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless smarphone charging is also available, while upper trim levels can be equipped with a rear-seat entertainment system that uniquely has screens mounted in both front seats rather than a single screen overhead (as in the Odyssey and Sienna). There’s also the available FamCam that lets those up front watch the kids punching each other from the main infotainment screen. Keep in mind, though, that many of the whiz-bang features are exclusive to upper trims.
How big is the Pacifica?
The Pacifica is basically the same size on the outside as its minivan competitors. They’re all so big that an inch here or there really doesn’t make much of a difference. That goes for finding a big-enough parking spot and then maneuvering into it. Cargo space behind the raised third row is also effectively equal among all the vans.
Things change once you start lowering seats, however. Every minivan has a different second-row seating format, and the Pacifica’s claim to fame is the Stow ‘N Go captain’s chairs that fold into the floor (the two top photos). This lets you quickly transform your van from people carrier to stuff hauler without giving yourself a hernia lifting seats out. The downside is that the seats themselves aren’t as comfortable as the second-row captain’s chairs found in rivals – or those in the Pacifica Hybrid, which doesn’t have Stow ‘N Go (its battery takes up the underfloor stowage space). Those are two bottom photos above). Note that the Pacifica’s eight-passenger configuration adds a small seat between the captain’s chairs that does need to be physically removed. It’s similar to what you’d find in the Sienna, and therefore less versatile than what’s found in the Odyssey or the Kia Carnival.
What are the Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid fuel economy, electric range and performance specs?
The Pacifica’s standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It is paired to a nine-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but for 2021, all-wheel drive is an option. The Toyota Sienna is the only other van that offers AWD. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined with FWD and 17/25/20 mpg with AWD.
The Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid, meaning it has a big battery pack that can deliver 32 miles of all-electric range. That range is replenished, as the name would suggest, by plugging it in – preferably into a home charging station for quicker charging times. However, once that all-electric range is depleted, the Pacifica Hybrid still acts as a regular hybrid (much like the Toyota Sienna) that uses both its electric motor and 3.6-liter V6 to achieve an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in combined driving. How much it ultimately saves you depends on how much you can plug in and utilize that all-electric range. Its total output is 260 hp.