Entry Price: $26,995
Price as Tested: $49,665

This week, we’re driving Chrysler’s seventh generation 2018 Pacifica, now in its second year of an all-new design. This new Pacifica is clearly the company’s most impressive minivan in its 34-year history and a pleasure to drive during our week-long test.

Pacifica is a direct descendant of the famous Chrysler-built Dodge and Plymouth minivans that debuted in September 1983 as a 1984 model. These unique vehicles were called the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager and successfully filled the void of consumers who needed station wagon roominess but didn’t have much to choose from. Thanks to perfect timing from then Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, the tables were set for success as baby boomer marriages evolved into growing families and there, in the many Chrysler dealerships, sat the new Dodge and Plymouth minivans.

As for mechanicals, the 1984 Chrysler minivans were more or less Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Reliant “K-Cars” on steroids. The “K-Car” was Chrysler’s front drive, four-cylinder compact car that debuted in 1981 also to a fair amount of success.

Chrysler engineers stretched K-Car’s wheelbase from 99.6-inches to 112-inches and added the novel seven-passenger minivan body all while delivering smaller size maneuverability and good fuel mileage. Chrysler sold some 200,000 minivans the first 16-months thanks to excellent advertising coupled with the excitement of a brand new multi-passenger vehicle.

These new minivans launched Chrysler Corporation back into sustained profitability for nearly a decade as the company enjoyed little or no competition. Through the seven generations, the Dodge and Chrysler minivans grew to wheelbases of over 120-inches while retaining the “minivan” nomenclature based on history more so than actual mass/weight proportions.

So how good is the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica?

Well, how about winning the “North American Utility Vehicle of the Year” at last year’s world famous Detroit Auto Show followed by a J.D. Power “Highest Ranked Minivan in Initial Quality” award. The new architecture features a completely revamped exterior and a new interior with lots of storage and cargo abilities. A class first nine-speed automatic transmission couples with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This power combo delivers impressive 28-highway and 19-city EPA fuel mileage numbers, both very good for a two-ton vehicle.

Chrysler Pacifica also becomes the first minivan to offer a hybrid, which is available now and delivers EPA numbers of up to 84-mpg on full charge and a driving range of 566 miles total and 33 miles on total electric. Three models are available starting at $39,995. The hybrid utilizes the same 3.6 liter V6 and nine-speed automatic in unison with an Atkinson cycle two electric motor setup and a large battery-pack.

Notable on the new Pacifica are numerous luxury and safety features, literally too many to list as standard and optional safety items alone number over 100. Included are all the powers, 506-watt Alpine 13-speaker stereo, Android and Apple phone capabilities, window shades, power doors and liftgate, heated seats and steering wheel, interior noise control and many more standard features. Your Chrysler dealer will gladly explain all models, including some upgraded interior seat choices and special upper class special “dark trim” exterior offerings for 2018.

All Pacifica models, from entry LS at $26,995 to the top line Limited feature the best of standard safety features like Parkview backup camera, all airbags, blind spot and cross path detection, remote start, electronic stability and traction control, four wheels ABS discs and more. Our Limited came with a tri-plane sunroof, Stow and Vac integrated vacuum, and ventilated front seats, all standard on the top model.

Our Limited, which starts at $43,695, included an optional $2,690 Customer Preferred Package highlighted by a fabulous Blu-Ray DVD movie system with seatback screens for second row passengers. It features a total of 20 Harmon Kardon speakers, twin USB Video Ports and a bump up to a 750 watt amplifier that makes long drives way more enjoyable for passengers.

Other options include an advanced safety group ($1,995), 20-inch tire and wheel group ($995) and an Advanced Safety Group that adds parallel park assist, full speed front collision warning plus, a 360 degree rear camera, adaptive cruise with stop and go, and more. With a recommended youth safety Keysense Key-FOB for $195 (which allows parents to program top speed, radio volume, seat belt use, etc.), these additions brought the final tally to $49,665 with $1,095 destination included.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 121.6 inches, 4,330 lb. curb weight, 19-gallon fuel tank, 39.7 ft. turn circle, 3,600 lb. tow capacity, 5.1 inch ground clearance, and cargo capacity that grows from 32.3 cu. ft. with seats up to a massive 141 cu. ft. with seats folded down.

Unlike the early days, stiff competition now comes from Toyota Sienna, family member Dodge Grand Caravan, Chevy Traverse (and GM siblings), Ford Flex, Honda Odyssey, KIA Sedona, Nissan Quest and Volkswagen Atlas. This new Chrysler Pacifica, however, remains a solid choice if you’re shopping the minivan market and is worthy of serious consideration.

Likes: Outstanding design, exclusive hybrid option, interior, legacy.
Dislikes: Some extra cost safety features should be standard, expensive options.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.