In the era of crossovers, the minivan gets a bad rap. But not everybody digs a hatchback on stilts. For many, the minivan still represents the ultimate family hauler, and to prove that minivans can still hold their own, we've snagged one up for the next year or so.
This is our long-term 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. The Pacifica is a brand-new minivan, meant as a replacement for the tired Town & Country. Its 3.6-liter V6 puts out an ample 287 horsepower while returning 19 mpg city and 28 highway, which is very close to best in class. Like nearly every other minivan, it's only available in front-wheel drive.
It's not a bad deal, either. With a starting price of $28,995, it's affordable for the family that needs reliable transportation for a whole bunch of people. But since we're the tech-focused sort, we opted to go big -- real big.
Our long-termer comes in the Limited trim, with all the doodaddery expected in a 21st-century minivan, and with several options boxes ticked, its out-the-door price is an eye opening $48,950. Woof.
That's not to say that money isn't well spent. A fully loaded Pacifica comes with plenty of modern trappings, like remote start, keyless entry with automatic sliding doors, heated and ventiled leather seats, parking sensors, a vacuum and 360 degrees of camera coverage.
In terms of tech, we're staring down the latest iteration of Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system. This 8.4-inch screen packs a new, flat UI design with access to just about everything in the car, from the camera system to the 3G Wi-Fi hotspot.
Our Pacifica also comes with Uconnect Theater, a piece of cabin tech that won our Roadshow Shift Award at this year's Detroit Auto Show. These seatback-mounted screens are touch capable, and a number of apps will keep kids plenty busy, whether it's playing games or using the "Are We There Yet?" app to answer that age-old question. HDMI input and a bevy of power ports expands its capabilities even further.
The Pacifica retains Chrysler's excellent Stow 'N' Go system, which turns the rear two rows into a flat cargo area. Not only will this be a boon for any Roadshow editor who needs to move some furniture, it transforms the Pacifica into a proper support car for video shoots. You'd be surprised how much equipment those shoots require.
As a person who dislikes the annoyingly high ride height and awkward proportions of some crossovers, I'm quite excited to put the Pacifica through its paces over the next year. I may not have any kids (don't worry, we have editors who do), but I have a dog that loves a good road trip, and that's close enough for me.
Teaching her to use Uconnect Theater might be a bit of a pain, though.