RICHMOND AUTO MALL WEBSITE OCTOBER 2019/TONY WHITNEY/2020 CHRYSLER PACIFICA MINIVAN
Just about any vehicle buyer knows that minivans have been steamrollered by the ever-growing demand for SUVs and crossovers, but it can’t be denied that for so many families, there’s really nothing quite like a minivan.
Certainly, SUVs are riding on the crest of a wave and there are no signs of this demand slowing, but it’s good to know that a few automakers have stayed faithful to the minivan concept and there are still some interesting choices in the marketplace.
As might be expected, minivan pioneer Chrysler has stayed loyal to the idea of a vehicle that takes seven (or more) occupants, offers lots of cargo space and fits in a standard-sized garage. For many buyers, it’s a must-have configuration and no SUV can quite do the same job. Quite apart from the people-carrying all vans offer, some models can be configured as cargo haulers and will take very large loads with the seats folded away. Chrysler developed the market-leading the Stow ‘n Go system that enables all the rear seats to be folded flush into the floor, making for a completely unobstructed cargo box that will take very large items - even sofas or refrigerators.
For 2020, Chrysler has once again updated its popular Pacifica model and it continues to be the only minivan on the market available with a hybrid powertrain. The Pacifica is a handsome vehicle and about as sleek and appealing as a minivan can be, especially given that stylists are restricted by the key factor of not reducing practicality in any way. The gasoline Pacifica comes in six versions – L, LX, Touring, Touring L, Touring L Plus and Limited. The plug-in hybrid variant is available in Touring, Touring L and Limited.
Among appearance packages for 2020 is the new Red S option, which includes some creative colour combinations with red leather seats and makes for a very distinctive van. One appearance package includes 18-inch black wheels, gloss black accents around the exterior and an all-black interior. Chrysler points out that this option is chosen by one in three of all Pacifica buyers.
The plug-in hybrid offers some remarkable performance figures when it comes to fuel economy – something all families watch closely nowadays. It’s possible to get a rating of just 2.7-litres/100 km with the motor running. All electric range is 51-km or so and the total driving range is 835-km, so “range anxiety” is the last thing for a Pacifica plug-in hybrid owner to worry about.
The interior of these vans is all about practicality and comfort and there are stowage areas everywhere and lots of cup holders, as befits a family hauler. The vans incorporate a very wide range of safety features, not to mention connectivity upgrades. Buyers can go for an 8.4-inch touchscreen and we’ve found Chrysler’s to be among the very best in the business, regardless of price. Using the screen for, as an example, navigation, is very intuitive and this is one of the few systems that can easily be operated without reference to the owner’s manual.
As an all-around vehicle, a minivan is still very hard to beat and can be adapted to a multiplicity of roles. As a bonus, the Pacifica is built at Chrysler’s minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, so buying one of these will help the Canadian auto industry, which needs a bit of a boost right now.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four door (with two sliding) and tailgate minivan
ENGINE: 3.6-litre V-6. Hybrid uses V-6 plus dual electric motors
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed auto (gas version)
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 8-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 2.7-litres/100 km (hybrid)
PRICE: Pacifica prices start at $33,495. Hybrids start at $43,192