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Automotive historians have interesting discussions on the topic of “who invented the minivan” but whatever the answer, it was Chrysler Corporation that kick-started the class in brilliant style back in the 1980s. Although minivans don’t enjoy the popularity they once did thanks to the boom in SUV sales, they are still arguably the most practical family vehicles it’s possible to imagine.


Understandably, Chrysler has remained dedicated to the minivan concept while some automakers have abandoned the segment altogether to concentrate on SUVs. Chrysler, of course, will sell you either a Pacifica minivan or an SUV so those faithful to the brand won’t need to shop anywhere else.



The Pacifica has been extensively updated over the past year or two and represents something of a benchmark in this class. And after years of offering only gasoline engines and front-wheel drive, buyers can now opt for a plug-in hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive.


The basic product, which is built in Canada, uses a responsive 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 with 287-horsepower. This power unit has plenty of power and torque and it’s needed for anyone planning trips with multiple family members and their luggage. The Pacifica is a wonderfully relaxing and refined vehicle for highway cruising but it handles nicely enough on winding country roads. We’ve done many long road trips in these vans and that’s where they’re at the best. The driver’s seat sits high and you get a great view of the road ahead and the surrounding scenery.



Passengers enjoy a very high level of comfort and spaciousness and the whole touring experience shows that there’s nothing like a minivan when you really want to cover some serious distances. Of course, the vehicle is fine around town too and it’s worth remembering that two of the original design targets for the Chrysler minivan were that it should be easy to park in a standard on-street meter bay and that it would fit in a standard garage.


One of the most innovative aspects of Chrysler minivans is the Stow ‘n Go feature that gives you the ability to fold all the rear seating into the floor. Once you get used to the process it’s a huge asset, enabling the owner to turn their Pacifica into a commercial cargo hauler in moments. Incidentally, there are various seating options available for Pacifica buyers so the van can be easily tailored to specific needs.



The latest Pacifica has a very wide range of standard or available features including numerous safety assets (116 in all) and connectivity and infotainment that’s very much state-of-the-art. The all-new Uconnect system includes a 10.1-inch touchscreen and we’ve found this to be among the best in any current vehicle. For folks who want to keep an eye on youngsters in the back, Pacifica offers its FamCAM interior camera that allows a view of rear-facing child seat occupants.


Minivans may not enjoy the popularity they once did, but for many families, there’s nothing to beat the space, cargo capacity and comfort of a vehicle like this. With the Pacifica, you can get all these benefits plus a hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive. It adds up to something that may well be the ultimate family hauler.


Seven-seat minivan, two sliding doors
ENGINE: 3.6-litre V-6, hybrid optional
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY: 2.9-litres/100 km (hybrid)
PRICE: Base MSRP, $44,795

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