Auto123 reviews the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle, equipped with a welcome AWD system.
Chrysler is currently revamping its lineup to welcome the Grand Caravan into its lineup - a strategy that should pay off following the retirement of the Dodge Grand Caravan. However, the Grand Caravan isn't the only thing new for 2021.
For one, Chrysler has reintroduced all-wheel drive to the Pacifica package. For two, the American manufacturer is also raising the bar with its Pinnacle trim. It’s a badge that could easily have been Town & Country... if Chrysler had dared to put wood panels on the sides of its minivan of course!
The price is scary, but do your homework
However, there's one small detail to mention about this luxury loft on wheels: the base price of a Pacifica Pinnacle is - brace yourself - $65,795! That's right. Ouch. But, don’t forget that the American manufacturer has gotten us used to offering substantial discounts over the years. So, that 65-grand price tag could turn into something substantially less once the sales process is underway.
Top-shelf minivans have become true luxury cocoons. While it's true that the Chrysler brand has a certain cachet, that’s not really the case with Toyota, Honda or Kia. Regardless, extended families with above-average budgets can afford to invest in a comfortable, practical and technology-rich vehicle.
As for the Pacifica Pinnacle, a quick build-and-price on Chrysler Canada's website shaves nearly $10,000 off the starting price. In other words, with this discount, the most luxurious Chrysler wagon in the country can be purchased for the same price as any premium minivan on the market.
A unique minivan
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle is distinguished - in this case at least - by its all-wheel drive system, a new feature that will please consumers looking for better traction – and thus peace of mind - come the cold weather. The system can even disconnect the second axle if it deems that the front drive wheels are sufficient. It also has the ability to send all the torque to the wheels that have the best traction.
On the outside, the Pinnacle gets exclusive badging and even 20-inch chrome wheels, but note that the rest of the bodywork is identical to other versions of the Pacifica model that’s been redesigned for 2021. So where’s the “luxury”? Inside, especially in the second row where the captain's chairs are fitted with padded lumbar cushions. Note that these seats, which are more padded than those of the other models, cannot be folded into the floor by the famous Stow'n'Go. This is the price you pay for having more comfortable seats here.
The third row seat is like that of other Pacificas, but as with all other minivans on the market, there's no shortage of space behind it. I noted that the caramel Nappa leather is of better quality in this version of the model, and the equipment included on board is very comprehensive. The centre screen houses the highly efficient UConnect 5 system, while in the back, two additional screens take care of amusing those kids not already with their own iPads in tow with wireless headphones and several games to pass the time. The Pacifica Pinnacle also gets the FamCAM camera, which displays a view of the rear passengers on the centre screen. Helicopter parents take note.
Is this a good road trip choice?
The Pacifica Pinnacle has comfortable seats, a relatively well insulated cabin and a suspension calibrated for the open road. The 20-inch wheels do have an impact on the minivan's handling, which doesn’t ride as smooth as the Odyssey. But rest assured, the Pacifica Pinnacle is still an excellent companion for longer road trips.
With all the gear in and a full slate of passengers on board, the minivan’s 3.6L Pentastar V6 will have its hands full on hilly backcountry roads, but when the vehicle isn't as loaded, acceleration is decent... for a minivan! With 287 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque at its disposal, the Chrysler Pacifica’s powertrain has just enough oomph. In any case, the purpose of such a vehicle is not to tear a strip off the tarmac at the track.
Yes that’s right, minivans may be getting “cooler”, but still no vehicle in the class has what it takes to keep up with the pace of a sports car on a closed circuit. The Honda Odyssey I tested a few weeks ago is still the liveliest in the segment in my opinion, but the Pacifica isn’t far behind – certainly it’s no slouch. There is some roll when approaching a corner at speed and braking distances are longer than those of an ultralight roadster, but the models it competes with are the same.
Where the Pacifica loses points is in terms of fuel economy. I averaged 12.7L/100km during my few days of testing. City driving certainly didn't help, but the number-one enemy of the Pacifica here is weight! The Pinnacle is no lightweight.
The last word
This isn't Chrysler's first attempt to inject a dose of luxury into its minivan. After all, the idea was launched in 1989 with the Chrysler Town & Country, a name that now belongs to the brand's past. In terms of equipment and even execution, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle has it all, including that all-wheel drive. However, I should point out that the Toyota Sienna can also be equipped with all-wheel drive, and it consumes quite a bit less gas thanks to its hybrid engine.
And then there are those comfy second row seats that can't be folded into the floor. If that matters to you, I suggest you consider the Pacifica Limited version. It doesn't have as extensive an equipment list, but the Stow'n'Go system is there for those days when all the versatility of a minivan is required.
The all-wheel drive
A rich interior
ComfortOn aime moins
We like less
No Stow'n Go!
Fuel consumption higher than that of a Toyota Sienna AWD