There comes a time in life when only a minivan will do the job and you have to face up to the fact your days of enjoying driving are over, for the time being, at least. A minivan isn’t exactly an aspirational purchase for most buyers, so why not save money by going for a pre-owned model instead of a new one? And if you are looking for a pre-owned minivan at the moment, here’s what you need to know and what to look out for when buying a used Chrysler Pacifica.
Chrysler Pacifica history
The list of new minivans out there to choose from has been dwindling in recent years as SUVs and trucks continue to take over the world, but in 2016 Chrysler came along with a brand-new model in the shape of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Okay, it wasn’t as new as Chrysler might have had us believe as it was effectively a new generation of the Chrysler Town & Country. Even so, the changes were pretty substantial and the Pacifica has now been around long enough for there to be a relatively vibrant used market for them.
Although the Dodge Caravan continued in production until 2020 and the Chrysler Grand Caravan continues to be produced and sold in Canada, the Pacifica is a more premium model than either.
Something else that sets the Chrysler Pacifica apart from other minivans is the availability of a hybrid powertrain, and it still seems odd that other automakers haven’t followed Chrysler’s lead in that area as what makes more sense than a minivan that’s as economical to run as it is practical?
There’s only been one generation of the Chrysler Pacifica so far, but the minivan did get a facelift for the 2021 model year that included new exterior styling and the option of all-wheel-drive for non-hybrid versions.
Chrysler Pacifica crossover?
When you’re shopping for a used Chrysler Pacifica minivan you’re also going to come across another Chrysler Pacifica that was in production between 2003 and 2007 for the 2004 to 2008 model years. It may be a Chrysler and it may have had the same name as the minivan we’re examining here, but the 2004-2008 Chrysler Pacifica models were mid-size crossover SUVs and not minivans.
On the other hand, you may come across one of these earlier vehicles and decide that it could do a job for you and it would probably also save you a decent lump of cash, but for now, I’m going to continue looking at the minivans from 2017 to the present day.
Chrysler Pacifica powertrains
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid wasn’t available when the Pacifica was launched for the 2017 model year so all the early models are exclusively powered by gasoline internal combustion engines. In fact, they were all powered by the same powerplant which is a 3.6-liter V-6 that develops 287 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque that’s sent to the front wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
If you’re familiar with the Chrysler Town & Country that the Pacifica replaces you might think you recognize this engine. But don’t be fooled into thinking you may as well get a cheaper Town & Country instead because it has the same engine as the newer Pacifica. The version of this engine the Pacifica got was heavily revamped to be lighter and more efficient than the earlier unit in the Town & Country.
This heavily revised powerplant was well received and it helped contribute to a ride and handling that’s far better than is normally associated with a minivan.
In fact, thecarconnection.com website went as far as to say of the 2017 Pacifica when it was new, “Chrysler’s new Pacifica is its first minivan that’s truly entertaining to drive. It’s surpassed the Honda Odyssey as the minivan we’d drive if we could only drive minivans from now on.
The site also said, “Strong straight-line performance is joined by very good ride and handling and it’s all tuned for crisp responses, better even than today’s paragon Honda vans.”
Chrysler Pacifica interior
So, the Pacifica looks better than other minivans and it’s also much better to drive than you might ever expect of a minivan, but let’s be honest here, minivans live or die by what their interiors are like.
Chrysler could already boast the best minivan seating system in the Town & Country, but the Pacifica took that winning formula and improved upon it by making the second and third-row fold-flat seating system even easier to use than they were in its predecessor. It also helps the case for the Pacifica that it was now larger than every other minivan by almost every measure.
Even the third-row seats are roomy enough to be comfortable for full-size adults, but when not in use, they were also power-folding so they can be easily stowed away to reveal copious amounts of cargo space. Depending on what the day’s chores call for, the Pacifica is so flexible it can be an eight-seat people-mover, a spacious cargo van for hauling sheets of 4-by-8 back from Home Depot, or anything in between.
Chrysler Pacifica safety
I personally don’t pay much attention to crash-test ratings or standard safety features when I buy a vehicle, but I don’t have to transport any cargo around that’s as valuable as a minivan full of children. You can certainly put any worries about safety to bed if you buy a used Chrysler Pacifica as the NHTSA gave it a full five-star rating for overall safety, and the IIHS gave the Pacifica its coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating.
If you’re looking at a relatively high-specification version of a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, standard safety features even include the likes of adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Is the Chrysler Pacifica a luxury minivan?
The Chrysler Pacifica is categorized as a luxury minivan but it’s questionable if it’s considered a luxury vehicle in the same sense as a Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, or BMW would be, but it’s hard to describe the interior as anything other than luxurious, especially in the higher trim levels. The interior is put together very well and the quality of materials used also impresses, and infotainment and connectivity are also well taken care of.
Is the Chrysler Pacifica reliable?
The Chrysler Pacifica is what would probably be called fairly reliable by most observers as it has had its problems in the past but things do appear to be getting better. That’s hardly surprising, however, as the early models of an all-new vehicle tend to suffer from teething problems that get ironed out in later model years.
A common problem with the 2017 model year Chrysler Pacifica was the transmission, which can be guilty of developing fluid leaks, worrying noises, stalling, jerking or even a complete failure in more extreme cases.
If you’re looking at buying a used Chrysler Pacifica you should definitely give the transmission a good workout on a test drive, and ask to see any evidence the seller might have available of work being done to rectify any transmission problems.
The rest of the most commonly reported Pacifica faults from 2017-onwards are annoying but not terminal issues with malfunctioning electronics. We’re talking here about navigation systems, infotainment, and other non-critical systems. Sometimes they can be easily fixed but at other times they can be infuriatingly difficult to diagnose, even if the eventual fix isn’t much hassle.
Is the Chrysler Pacifica fuel-efficient?
An eight-seat minivan with a 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood is never going to be a fuel-sipper, but even the earliest non-hybrid and non-stop/start versions are not too bad on gas. The least fuel-efficient versions of the Pacifica are rated by the EPA at 18 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined.
When the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid arrived in showrooms later in the model year it came with a gas & electric combined fuel economy rating of 84 MPGe and a combined gas-only rating of 32 mpg. And because the Pacifica Hybrid was a plug-in model it is also capable of up to 33 miles of electric-only driving range.
2018 Chrysler Pacifica
If you need the full complement of eight seats or you liked the idea of the foldaway second-row that features in the original 2017 Chrysler Pacifica you should probably give the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid a miss. That’s because it dropped the foldaway second-row and the eighth seat to accommodate the hybrid system’s lithium-ion battery pack which is now in the box where the seat would normally be.
However, if you can live without the plug-in-hybrid powertrain the gas-only versions are still as capable and flexible as the 2017 model with no change to the seating arrangements.
Which Chrysler Pacifica should you buy?
It’s nice to be able to make a clear recommendation about which version of a vehicle you should consider buying for once, and that’s because I suggest you buy the newest, lowest mileage, and most high-specification version of the Chrysler Pacifica that your budget will run to. Yes folks, it really is that simple and straightforward.
Which Chrysler Pacifica models should you avoid?
If your budget stretches to it I’d say try and avoid a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica as those are the ones with the more prevalent teething problems, but a lot of them carried over into 2018 models as well. It’s also advisable to check the history of any used Pacifica to see who’s owned it in the past.
This is especially important with entry-level models as a lot of these have been owned and run by fleets and hire companies, and nothing gets abused by drivers quite like a rental. The saying might go “drive it like you stole it,” but it might be just as appropriate to say “drive it like you rented it.”
Which Chrysler Pacifica trim level is the best value?
Any Chrysler Pacifica trim level is worth considering, although you might want to skip the base models for the reason I just mentioned about hire vehicles. The list of standard equipment is impressive at every level and what you get at the top of the range can be pretty special.
If you want to know exactly what features you can expect to find in any Chrysler Pacifica trim level you see advertised, here are all the official brochures for you to download for free from 2017 to the 2022 model year.
How much should you pay for a used Chrysler Pacifica?
A used Chrysler Pacifica can cost from less than $10,000 for a well-worn 2017 model to more than $65,000 for a very recent top-of-the-line model with hardly any miles on it. Here’s a table showing the average spread of prices for each model year from 2017 onwards, with figures from thecarconnection.com.
|MODEL YEAR||Average Minimum Used Price||Average Maximum Used Price|
Should you buy a used Chrysler Pacifica?
If you need seven or eight seats and the kind of versatility and flexibility you can only get with a minivan, it’s easy to make a case for the Chrysler Pacifica. The Pacifica is about as attractive and stylish as a minivan gets, especially from the 2021model year onwards after the facelift. It also boasts a couple of powertrains that are more than adequate for the job of hauling up to seven or even eight people in some considerable comfort.
Add into the equation a set of peerless safety ratings and all the tech and connectivity you could ask for, and you start to see what a great buy a used Chrysler Pacifica can be. I know it’s not the sexiest or most exciting vehicle you can buy; it is a minivan after all. But if you need a minivan you may as well buy a good one, and the Chrysler Pacifica is a pretty good one.