The ultimate minivan.
Nobody on earth has built more minivans than Chrysler/FCA/Stellantis – 15 million to date. It is no surprise that the company has been able to produce the ultimate minivan – the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle.
A far cry from the $25,000 Grand Caravan found in the same showroom, the Pacifica Pinnacle is a new ultra-premium trim level for the redesigned 2021 Pacifica.
The Pinnacle is a showcase for everything the company has learned about and has available for its latest generation minivan.
At almost $66,000, it is certainly the mostly costly of the shrinking field of minivans. But it is also arguably the most luxurious, comfortable and feature-laden three-row passenger vehicle on the market.
The interior of this minivan is a standout!
Caramel-coloured leather and piano black trim appear throughout. Light tungsten piping and stitching is used on the perforated and quilted Nappa leather seats in all three rows. The headliner is suede, the floor carpets of Berber-constructed material and there are even a couple of matching throw pillows for added lumbar support, if desired, in the second-row captain’s chairs.
There is even a built-in vacuum cleaner!
All Pacificas get a mid-cycle makeover for 2021 with a new front end, slim LED headlights and a new grill. The other end has been refreshed as well with LED tail lights spanning the full width of the vehicle.
Versatility and convenience are minivan stalwarts.
The second and third row seats fold independently making for a variety of layouts. Second row seats, because they are larger, more comfortable and adjustable than the standard units, will not fit/fold down into the floor. They have to be removed if you want that space for cargo. But, the upside is that the large storage spaces beneath the floor remain available.
Folks in the middle row get their own climate controls, USB-A and C ports and window shades. A 26-centimetre screen incorporated into each front seat head restraint offers games and the ability to watch videos.
The third row folds completely down into spaces below the floor.
Getting into that roomy rearmost seat is easier than any crossover thanks to the sliding side doors. There is a second sunroof for the third row and a power recline feature. A separate power switch sees the seat fold completely into a space beneath the floor resulting in a flat load floor.
Infotainment systems have become the norm, tops consumer wish lists.
The Pacifica comes with the latest iteration of Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect system with five times the processing speed of the previous version and excellent graphics. Widely recognized for its ease of use, in this application it comes with a big (26-cm) touchscreen that can be personalized with up to six different user profiles.
It also boasts Amazon’s Alexa feature so you can ask it to play music, podcasts and audiobooks.
You can add items to your to-do or shopping lists, check news, weather, traffic or sports results. There is the ability to connect two different phones and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There are standard and fast-charging Class C USB ports.
The navigation system uses Tom Tom-supplied maps and over-the-air updates. In addition to showing the navigation maps, you can also use the “fam cam” feature for a high-res display of what’s going on in the rear seats!
A 20-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system is standard.
Very little wind or road noise, surprisingly agile and a silky smooth six-cylinder engine
The powertrain consists of a silky smooth 3.6-litre V6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and the four-season security of an advanced all-wheel-drive system. The sophisticated system consists of a power transfer case and rear drive module.
The Pinnacle runs in front drive mode until slip is detected. In that case, torque can be sent rearward, as much as necessary. In the remaining 90% of the time, no gas is wasted turning axles and other hardware.
On the road, this rolling seven-passenger luxo vehicle is all but silent with very little road or wind noise. With all that glass visibility is exceptional. It is no sports car, but it is much more agile than you’d expect from something with this much enclosed space.
Minivans may have fallen from favour. But, in my opinion, after testing more than 2,000 vehicles over the years, nothing beats them, for versatility and convenience.
There are other vehicles that cost less or offer more pure luxury – but none with this much room and comfort in all three rows. Typically, others – minivan or crossover with a third row – relegate those occupants to second class status, especially when it comes to head and especially legroom. Not so with the Pacifica.
If you regularly have a need to carry more than four big adults in comfort and luxury, the Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle stands alone.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD
As tested: $68,960 including freight
LED headlights, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, pedestrian and cyclist emergency braking
Uconnect 5 with navigation and 26-cm display and theatre group, wireless charging pad, universal garage door opener,
Leather trimmed seats, suede headliner, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, 360-degree surround view camera, parallel and perpendicular park assist, front and rear park sense, fan cam interior camera, 18-cm customizable in-cluster instrument panel, integrated vacuum, heated and removable second row easy-entry slide seats, second row storage bins, third row stow and go seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, hands-free liftgate and sliding side doors, tri-zone automatic climate control, second and third row window shades, 20-in polished wheels
Brilliant black crystal paint, $275; trailer tow group, (trailer sway control, trailer tow harness, hitch with 2-in receiver), $895
3.6-litre V6, 287 horsepower, 262 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel, nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 14.1/9.4
Length, 5,177 mm; width, 2,022 mm; wheelbase, 3,060 mm; weight, 2,000 kg
Honda Odyssey, Kia Carnival, Toyota Sienna
(Photography: Garry Sowerby)