By on September 14, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

In keeping with my current life stage, a bunch of my friends own minivans. Three of my four siblings have each owned multiple minivans. I own a minivan.

And this week, the test vehicle at GCBC Towers is this FCA Canada-supplied 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited, with a not-at-all limited array of options. As-tested, U.S. market pricing for this Pacifica climbs just beyond the $50K marker to $50,270.

Honda Odysseys top out below $46,000; Toyota Siennas below $49,000. FCA, however, wants the new Pacifica — which adopts the name of a failed crossover that died eight years ago — to be perceived as the automaker’s premium player. Buyers who want a value-oriented FCA van continue to have the Dodge Grand Caravan as an option, at least for the time being.

But we wonder if it’s a tenable position in the long-term; if, when FCA’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant finishes its Grand Caravan run, the Chrysler brand can maintain the automaker’s longstanding dominance in the minivan sector.

Rather than simply formulate a cohesive opinion in TTAC’s hyperactive Slack chat, we took questions to the people. We didn’t want to do a Pacifica consumer clinic with this van — we know that a few minutes inside this luxuriously equipped example would produce a handful of Wows and Oohs and Aahs. Rather, we decided to find a minivan baseline.

With five questions in hand, I approached eight individuals: two Toyota Sienna drivers, one driver of a Honda Odyssey with which the TTAC faithful will be familiar, four Dodge Grand Caravan owners, and the current owner of a three-row Kia Sorento whose four previous vehicles were minivans from Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

Income levels vary. Six of the eight respondents own other vehicles. They live in different parts of the continent. There are 24 children and five dogs represented by the parental participants.

This is not a scientific survey, but more than the strict yes/no answers to TTAC’s questions, the details provided by our eight minivan owners are useful and insightful.

2017 Chrysler Pacificas

What Was The Leading Factor In The Purchasing Decision Of Your Current Van?
Three of the four current Grand Caravan owners said affordability was the leading factor. Another Grand Caravan owner used the word “value”, while the Kia Sorento driver who traded in her 2012 Grand Caravan said the Grand Caravan purchase was motivated by affordability.

Not surprisingly, Marcus, a Toyota Sienna-driving father of four, said, “Having two friends with older Siennas, I was impressed with the reliability,” and labelled longevity as the leading factor in his purchase. Another Sienna owner said the van’s broad three-seat second row was the big reason for purchase, while Steffani, the primary Odyssey driver, said the cost/quality combination topped the list of reasons.

If You Had No Personal Financial Limitations, What Is The Maximum Price You Would Pay For A Minivan?
With this specific 2017 Pacifica priced above $50,000 in the U.S., only one of our eight respondents would be willing to reach that high on a minivan. The average of responses to this question was $36,400.

Don, the father of two (almost three) and owner of two Schnauzers, said that if price were no object, he wouldn’t be in a minivan at all but rather, “We would probably be in an Navigator or Suburban.” On the other side of the equation, Matthew, very pro-minivan a father of four, would simply buy the most expensive version of the best van available if he could. “Why not get the best one?” Other vehicular styles don’t enter into the running.

Do You See A Difference In Terms Of Prestige Between Dodge And Chrysler?
This Grand Caravan-heavy group is, theoretically, the ideal target market for the new Chrysler Pacifica, but only two of eight respondents — one current Grand Caravan owner and one former Grand Caravan owner — consider Chrysler to be more upscale than Dodge.

Another criticized the Chrysler as the cheaper option and said when she and her husband purchased their Grand Caravan the Town & Country didn’t even earn a second glance. The other five respondents all answered this question with a no. A Chrysler is a Dodge is a Dodge is a Chrysler.

Word Association: What’s The First Thing That Comes To Mind When These Four Vehicles Are Mentioned?
We asked all eight respondents for their one-word views on four minivans: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, and Kia Sedona. One-word answers were few and far between.

First, the Odyssey. The Odyssey owner said, “Longevity.” Of the Odyssey, the Kia Sorento driver said, “love.” One Grand Caravan owner considered the Odyssey’s camera setup to be appealing, another called the Odyssey high-class, and another gave credit to the Odyssey’s alleged “good looks.”

As for the Sienna, the Odyssey driver thought first of Toyota’s “good advertising,” crediting the old Swagger Wagon campaign. Durability, quality, reliability, and boring were the four one-word responses.

Aside from the “poor quality” label linked to the Pacifica by its Chrysler marque, most respondents had no opinion on the Pacifica because they had heard absolutely nothing about it. One Grand Caravan owner said, “It looks small.”

News for the Kia Sedona wasn’t so great, either. Unproven, fear, and auto shop visits were answers from three of our minivan owners. One Grand Caravan owner slapped the Sedona with a backhanded compliment, calling it “workable.”

The loyalty inspired by the Toyota Sienna with one of our two Sienna owners was noteworthy. He had nothing to say regarding the three competitors, but of his own van, he said, “Buy.”

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Stow'N'Go

Will Second Row Stow’N’Go Seating Be A Major Factor In The Purchasing Decision Of Your Next Minivan?
Every one of our minivan owners have third row seats that fold into the floor, but second row seats that collapse into the floor are another thing altogether. Steffani, the Odyssey driver, says, “They are tempting, but currently having second row seats that do not Stow’N’Go has not proved to be a trial.” Stow’N’Go second row seats are, “Not a major factor,” says Jonathan, the Sienna-driving father of three. “The sliding mid-row chairs slide quite far.”

Andrew, the father of three with full Stow’N’Go seating in his current van, says, second row Stow’N’Go, “will be a significant factor but price will dictate in the end.” Rachel, our former Grand Caravan owner and mother of five, had Stow’N’Go but never used it and considers it useless. And Janna, another current Grand Caravan owner, says, “Who needs a truck when you have Stow’N’Go?”

[Images: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars and FCA]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

92 Comments on “TTAC Consumer Clinic: Minivans And The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica...”


  • avatar
    seth1065

    Holy Shi$ 50k, for this van, what are they smoking? I have rented town and country in the past and they are good vehicles but would I own a FCA mini van, not sure about that, I have heard many many bad stories about their trannies , no way would I drop 50K on one and I could be swayed into a mini van because they would work for my family but not at 50K, maybe in two years a cop at 25 k would be worth the gamble, maybe.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It starts at $28,595. $50k is with every available option.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        There are people who, when reading car articles, take the trim presented as the -only option in the world- and then harp on it afterward. It happens every time, and cannot be avoided.

        • 0 avatar
          seth1065

          I understand that was top trim but still a FCA mini van topping out over 50k w iffy rep at any price.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Generally I would agree, the Japanese options WILL be more reliable at the lower end as well as high up.

            Plus resale.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Don’t forget, that’s MSRP. The dealer has ways of making money on your trade-in, financing, and fees, even before FCA puts cash on the hood. The transaction prices will end up considerably lower.

            I really doubt the Caravan will just stop being made, though that’s what Sergio’s past history portends. With Fiat, he kept putting out the same models with little or no updating, until the model stopped sell, and he’d drop it without a replacement.

            The Caravan is a big seller, too big to let sales wither without updates. I suspect he’ll keep making the Caravan with little change until he finds a partner to finance new versions, continuing to reduce debt to make FCA marginally more attractive to a partner smitten with Ram/Jeep.

        • 0 avatar
          SP

          The problem, Corey, is that the trim reviewed … is usually the only trim ever reviewed by a given publication. And therefore, the review that will live forever on the Internet (or until we all forget about it) is of that trim.

          This is one of my issues with all auto publications. They only sometimes try to give you a good picture of what the real differences in trim level and value are.

          This problem was made obvious to me when test driving some used 3 series BMWs. A 328i with standard suspension and leatherette seats is … kind of ok. A 335i with sport package and leather is phenomenal! But if you just read auto magazine reviews, you would assume that all BMW trim levels are equally amazing. Can you even find a review of a BMW without the sport package? I gave up looking. The best I could find was an oblique reference to the sport seats being better than non-sport.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        not to mention it’s a Chrysler product, so expect to see a few grand come off in incentives after the initial sales bump is over, while the Honda and Toyota continue to sell mostly at or near MSRP, especially in the hard-to-find top trims like the Odyssey Touring Elite.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          It’s called the furniture store pricing model. Inflate the MSRP, knock a big chunk out of it and tell people what a good “deal” they are getting if they buy it TODAY, because these prices won’t last long.

      • 0 avatar
        tsoden

        Well if the US can get this van for under $30k… us Canucks then are getting screwed ONCE AGAIN as the Pacifica starting price is $43,995 in Canada and over $52000 for a limited model.

        At this price I will NEVER even CONSIDER a Pacifica and stick with my sub $30000 Santa Fe Sport. I like minivans for the practicality, but FCA is seriously going to put a stake in the heart of its prior sales leading vehicle once the Dodge Caravan parts ways.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Look…I kinda get annoyed with these top line prices.
      I myself test 2 Pacificas this past summer.
      BOTH were right around 34, 35 K with just about everything I would ever want.
      Back up cam, leather, stow n go, top chassis…the list goes on.
      So whatever would be added t this to make 50K is silly, and more than likely never gonna happen.
      And the dealers both wanted to deal.
      I will bet even this top trim is had for thousands less.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    My goodness, look at the last picture there, at the ABSURD level of d-pillar blind spots. May as well be in a panel van.

    Is the Pacifica available in mint green like in the awful Fergie advertisement music video?!

  • avatar
    jmo

    It starts at $28,595. Why do the B&B get apoplectic about car options? If you don’t want to pay for heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel, etc. – don’t get them.

  • avatar
    BigRig

    Own an ’11 Sienna XLE FWD that we bought CPO 3 years ago – have been really happy with it. The only issues we’ve had other than oil/tires/brakes were an overhead console that was replaced under the CPO warranty because one of the sliding door open/close buttons stopped working.

    Been toying with the idea of swapping it for a 14/15 CPO solely for AWD as we take it skiing a good amount in the winter and it would let me sleep a little better at night. I definitely plan on checking out the Pacifica before committing to another Sienna though, particularly if they can get an AWD version to market sooner rather than later.

    As for stow and go, the Sienna sliding seats provide ample room – I recently hauled a top/bottom fridge in the back with room to spare by just sliding the 2nd row up against the front seats.

    The Sienna is a bit boring, sure, but none of these platforms really elicit any excitement from me. We talked about moving into a 3 row crossover (Highlander or Durango most likely) in a year or two but with three kids (7/5/3) it just doesn’t make sense from a space/capacity standpoint – these minivans are supremely efficient. Will probably eventually move to a Suburban eventually but not in the budget right now.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Keep in mind, AWD jettisons the spare tire. Then, you have three options (stock runflats which suck and wear quickly, and are expensive; regular tires and unlimited AAA; a fifth wheel and tire perpetually taking up 15% of the cargo area).

      Unless you want to send your tire dealer’s kid to college with a $1000 set of runflats every year, keep the 2011 and buy some Nokian (WR G3) or Toyo (Celsius) hybrid all-seasons.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Who needs a truck when you have Stow’N’Go?”

    God bless practical people. I remember when a full size dresser and two matching end-tables (all still in their shipping packaging) would NOT fit in my Highlander. I said to my wife: “You know what this would fit in? A minivan.”

    The reply? “Don’t make me hurt you gringo.” (She being one of those women who thinks minivan = giving up on life.)

    Now that our little one is 2 and we’re wanting more, I think her practical organized side is warming up to it.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “I remember when a full size dresser and two matching end-tables (all still in their shipping packaging) would NOT fit in my Highlander.”

      If you’re constantly picking up full size dressers and matching end tables (all still in their shipping packaging) then maybe you should get one (though there are better options for that sort of thing.)

      If it’s something you do once every two blue moons, you might want to think about that purchase a bit.

      I remember getting a bedroom set. Wouldn’t fit in the car or the CUV. So you know what I did? Had it delivered. I know, radical right? The great thing about that is that I didn’t have to load/unload/set-up the furniture.

      Now I know the smart money is on buying something for a fleeting circumstance.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @hubcap, yeah but if your plan is 3 kids and you often get stuck hauling relatives around (due to them all being far away and coming to visit you by plane) a minivan will make lots of sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      I’m married to the same kinda woman, Dan.

      She just got sick of body-blocking giant baby seats into small door openings, so the sliding doors won out.

      That, and the fact that many artificial cows gave their all for the butt-warmed luxury kid theatre that is the interior.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      We currently have one kid and will be going for another in the near future. I’vealready had the conversation that if we go for a 3rd at any point, the Santa Fe is going away and we’re getting a Minivan.

      The 3-row CUVs today are great if you need a 3rd row in a pinch, but they’re not workable everyday if you actually need to haul people *and* have trunk space on a regular basis. They’re like the station wagons with a jump seat in the way-back of yesteryear.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        What about the Flex?

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Will the Flex still exist (as a new vehicle) in 3 to 5 years? It is basically a class of 1.

          I am fairly confident the minivan will exist.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            The minivan will always exist, even if never again moving the sheer number of units as in its heyday. The Flex is a difficult thing to sort out–it seems to sell juuuuust well enough every year for Ford to give it a stay of execution. But some time in the next 5 years, something’s gotta give. Either a fresh redesign or bye-bye, Flex. The news about the upcoming Explorer/Aviator full-size CUV also throws another wild card into the pile.

            I wonder if Ford is waiting for GM to drop the new Traverse/Enclave full-size CUVs to see what they’ll be up against.

      • 0 avatar
        phlipski

        As a recent father of #3 – I can attest to this line of thinking. We have a 2012 Pathfinder which was great when we only had 2 kids. But now that #3 is always with us (can’t ditch her for some reason…) that third row is in permanent use and it’s crampt – fine for the kids, but we can no longer take an extra adult or 2 with us like we used to in a pinch. I’m slowly working on my wife for the minivan. My biggest weapon is that the neighbors who have them absolutely adore them. Plus they’re cheaper than a tahoe/suburban. So I figure it’s only a matter of time before she cracks.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Odyssey–“Trendy”
    Sienna–“Longevity”
    Pacifica–“Risky”
    Sedona–“Maybe”

    My view on the minivan is that they are uninteresting appliances bought out of necessity, so I would want to minimize costs and headaches. The Pacifica seems likely to do neither, I’d be scooping up a cheaper Grand Caravan instead. But ultimately an entry level Sienna would probably be my target.

    As for the Odyssey, I don’t get the “love” description, but her transmission probably didn’t grenade twice (like my friend’s) or visit the shop multiple times by 11K miles (like Tim’s). But, a relative with more money than interesting hobbies is leasing his second Odyssey Elite in a row and they love theirs. Given their vehicle history, though, they’d probably love anything slathered in leather and touchscreens.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Quest – “Huh?”

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        There’s a guy up the street from us with a Quest. He and his young family are fresh off the boat from Japan.

        It’s one of those cars I love to stare at, but would never buy.

    • 0 avatar
      LastCar

      Just a counterpoint, I have spent less than $2000 in maintenance (most expensive being 6 replacement tires) for my 11-year old Odyssey that I bought new in 2005. We do drive low mileage though, around 5k/yr.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        6 replacement tires? You must have one of those super-rare DRW Odysseys! :P

        (Or would that be DFW?)

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Neighbors just put the third set on their Altima, it seems to love to eat tires (the car is not driven hard…like, at all, but the 60k mile tires were totally done for after about 25k).

          A day after the new tires, their 16 year old ran over a pair of metal scissors (they were painted black and it was dark out), so they ended up buying 5 tires in one week for one car. Perhaps something similar happened to his Odyssey.

          No, the tire dealer wouldn’t cover the damaged tire under any sort of program.
          And, no, the 16 year old doesn’t drive the Altima in such a way as to make it use tires. She learned her lesson on fast/reckless driving with multiple injuries she sustained in the crash that killed my cousin -her step sister- last year.

          • 0 avatar
            KalapanaBlack

            Altimas are susceptible to weak rear shocks letting the tires bound up and down, wearing big flat spots in them. They also are independent rear which can toe-out and wear the insides even more. And the front lower control arms are not the best built-not Ford Escape or Chevy Cobalt bad, but not Toyota 200k mile strong, either.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      If you drive the Pacifica vs. the Grand Caravan, you’ll never look back. The ride and handling are otherworldy in comparison as well as the quality/fit/finish of the insides.

  • avatar
    Snail Kite

    Which minivan has the best aftermarket support?

  • avatar

    “Do You See A Difference In Terms Of Prestige Between Dodge And Chrysler?”

    I think this probably needs to be bolded, FYI.

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    I don’t own a minivan, but probably will within the next few years. My sorting algorithm: buy the one with the lowest total cost of ownership that also has *perfect* crash test scores. Right now, that would work out to be a 2015 Kia Sedona, with a 2014 Honda Odyssey as the next more expensive alternative if we don’t like it.

    For minivans, what else really matters/distinguishes besides cost and safety? All of them provide an incomprehensible amount amount of utility, space, and luxury coming from a two-compact car family. We really don’t care about most “features” they have now. None of them are any fun to drive.

    I’m interested to see how the Pacifica does for safety, and how much they depreciate.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you’ll dig the Sedona. We really enjoy our ’15. Granted, long-term reliability is still an X factor, but after the bad press of the prior generation I’d be willing to bet Kia worked hard on this new ‘gen.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Most *features* are fairly useless, but I’ll say that when we got our current well-optioned family hauler, having heated/cooled seats and a heated steering wheel has been one of the best things for weather extremes I think I’ve ever experienced.

      Backup camera is nice and kind of mandatory given the rear sight lines, but I don’t think any of the radar-based sensors (back-up, rear cross traffic, blind spot) do anything but annoy me. And the navigation is useless.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I chose the Odyssey solely on the safety rating. I forget if it was off-set or side but it was the only one that got more than 3 stars in one of the categories. I don’t know how it compares line by line with the other minivans on value, but it is an interesting value proposition compared to a V6 Accord. I am pretty sure Baruth paid more for his coupe than we paid for 8 passenger seating and power sliding doors.

  • avatar

    I’m a Sedona owner–a 2015, which I bought as an off-fleet used vehicle with around 24k on the clock. I’ve no complaints so far. It does everything well and it drives fine.

    One often incorrectly-ballyhooed stickler is that reviewers are under the impression you have to pony up to the EX to get sliding rear doors, at which point you’re stuck with second row seats you can’t fold up. But you can grab an LX with the convenience package and you get a steal in the used market this way that includes said doors, heated front seats, a backup camera and parking sensors–the typical goodies that mostly slot into the “needs” category.

    So Chrysler might have the 50k price point in some flagship showpiece. But minivan shoppers like value–at least this one does. Many buyers don’t need all the bells and whistles, but just want a nice, safe, reliable hauler that they can beat the crap out of for about a decade, which happens to include a few key features that make life easier with screaming kids in tow.

    If FCA wants to retire the Grand Caravan, I’d urge caution. They risk confusing buyers. I think a better approach would just be making the Pacifica a distinctly different animal from the Caravan, even more so than the old T&C was. The last thing FCA should do is give folks the impression that there still isn’t a well-equipped value offering still available. The meat of the market doesn’t want leather seats and panoramic sunroofs. They want a competent daily driver that delivers value and is easy on the family budget.

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    My guess is that Chrysler will be selling very few 50K minivans, and my guess is that Honda and Toyota won’t sell very many either, although probably a few more than Chrysler.

    On one hand, if you define luxury in the Town Car sense of the word, as in almost unlimited room for many people and their things, a comfortable quiet ride, and lots of toys and luxury finishes, a minivan is top of the heap. We’ve seen the lincoln version of the Edge optioned up to 50k so why not a minivan, which is larger, more comfortable, more powerful, and has even more bells and whistles? You cannot get more room and comfort in any other vehicle/platform. Enclaves and the other GM Lambdas are basically minivans and can hit 50K pretty quickly.

    On the other hand, minivan owners tend to be practical pig kind of people who want the most car for the least money. I see a lot of these selling in the mid 30s but not going much higher.

    My 06 Caravan got totaled in March. 232K miles and over 10 years it had an intake gasket ($140), the driver’s side sliding door lock wouldn’t unlatch and had to be replaced twice, and an HVAC resistor had to be replaced. I did not have transmission issues with it. It had ordinary wear items other than that.

    I looked at the Odyssey, Pacifica, outgoing Caravan, Sienna, and Sedona. There are big differences in ride quality, noise, comfort, driveability, and interior appointments. The Sedona offered no price advantage, the dealer wasn’t enthusiastic about me test driving it, and reminded Ma of a hearse. Scratch that.

    The Caravan was much less expensive than the Pacifica but much noisier, had a much less settled ride, and doesn’t handle as well. You can feel the 300 lb difference between the Pacifica and the Caravan. If I didn’t drive as much as I do, the Caravan was a good choice.

    The Sienna was expensive and did not drive/ride well. Ponderous and also rattly.

    The Odyssey was nice and drove well and is quiet but considerably cheaper feeling inside than the Pacifica. I had a good experience with the last Chrysler minivan so am more inclined to go with that.

    I decided to hold off on purchasing until the hybrid comes out late this year; I drive enough that it may make it worth it to hybrid. I’ll have to sell one of the cars to justify the purchase also.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I got it! I got it!

    If you can’t afford one of these inflated miniwhales *new*, you don’t get a breeding license!

    That’s my gift to the coming (smaller) generations. Stockholm already has my number.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Wow, what a timely post.

    I am on day two of my white Pacifica rental. I have put about 100 miles on it cruising the St. Louis area.

    Not sure in the option package, lets go with rental spec. Power doors leather seats, blind spot lights on the outer mirrors and that is about it.

    The, I believe it to be, glass screen is nice and the uconnect works well. I’m getting a reported 26 mpg, computer calculated. I don’t drive for economy so this seems reasonable to me.

    Front seats are comfortable and visibility is great. I kinda like it, overall a nicer driving rig than the T&C, which i did not find all that reprehensible to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Probably a Touring model. I have a Touring L plus at the moment and have noted the fuel mileage to be very good as well.

      It’s also exactly as fast in a straight line as a 1995 Mustang GT.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    The power sliding doors, seats and hatch are really not needed, you can save some money there and still have a versatile, smooth riding vehicle with great highway gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      They’re not “needed” in the physical sense, but they are /necessary/ if Chrysler wants to be competitive with other offerings in the segment.

      • 0 avatar
        thats one fast cat

        Au Contraire, mon frere.

        If you have ever had to guide three unruly children with your hands full in a busy parking lot of an upscale mall with moms driving 6000 lb Escalades while talking on the phone and eating expensive crisps with one hand and putting on makeup with the other, you would know that the ability to press the button, get all the children in the car, and then close the button is a necessity.

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      Indeed!

      I taught my children manners and they all get in the back seat of my Buick Regal easily – they oldest holds the door so it doesn’t bang against the next car, the middle child buckles the 5 year old in the car seat and off we go.

      No eating and drinking in the car have made it a nice place to be for the last five years – it’s not a milk-smelling sticker hellhole like I see a lot of other parents with bratty children driving.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    EXCELLENT article. I love good market research. So much better than pontificating from auto opinion pieces.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I’m a current 2011 Caravan R/T owner with 2 kids, probably expanding to 3 in the next 12 months. We bought it new, after test driving the Odyssey and Sienna. Truthfully, we weren’t even going to visit Dodge/Chrysler dealer until I read Jack’s review of the refreshed vans, and I convinced my wife to visit the dealer. We ended up liking it the most without regard to price, and ended up buying one. At the time, the R/T offered all the goodies the loaded T&Cs had for a lot less, plus the slightly firmer sport suspension didn’t ruin anything in the ride department but added a bit more roll stiffness.

    Stow & Go seats are much like smartphones – if you’ve never had one, you many not get what the big deal is, but once you have it, you’re never going back.
    Cargo hauling benefits notwithstanding, I’ve probably spent the better part of 2 weeks living out of the thing at various Lemons races and a few concerts. A double air mattress fits perfectly inside the big blue metal tent and beats the snot out of cold and wet mud.

    We’re starting to think about replacing it, but I want to see the 2017 Odyssey built off the Pilot’s platform before making any decisions. I’m also going to rent a Pacifica from my local Enterprise to spend some quality time with one over a few days to see how the 9-speed deals with life. Finally, I want to look at the refreshed Sienna and Sienna SE. I don’t know that we can go without Stow & Go – we use it at least twice a month.

    I’d consider spending $40k on a van, but $50k (MSRP) is a bridge too far. Any vehicle we get will have radar cruise, and I think that FCA’s current system is the best on the market. It follows close, is very smooth, doesn’t spaz out on two-lane roads, and works in the fog and snow.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “One Grand Caravan owner said, “It looks small.”

    Well, DUH – it’s a “MINIvan”!

    For the record, these things are larger than the original Ford Econoline. EDIT: not to mention the first Chrysler minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      They were probably looking at it from the rear. The Pacifica is the same height as or taller than other minivans, but it has a slight slope from the middle to the hatch that ends up at around 66-67″ give or take, from a maximum height of 69.9″.

      It’s an unfair comparison to make between the current minivans and the first Econoline. That thing was smaller than the compact Falcon on which it was based, with a 90″ wheelbase.

      A more fair comparison to make would be between the original 1984 Caravan/Voyager, the full-size vans of the 1980s, and today’s minivans. Comparing an ’84 minivan to an ’84 van, and the moniker is appropriate.

      As for the gradual expansion in the past 30+ years, it makes more sense when you consider the target audience: families with young children, and the expansion of child seats over the same time.

      Compare apples to apples: A new Pacifica to a first-gen 1990 Town & Country or LWB Grand Caravan/Voyager:

      OAL: 203.6″ vs. 191.4″
      WB: 121.6″ vs. 119″
      W: 72″ vs. 79.6″
      H: 69.9″ vs. 64.8″

      Width made the most obvious gains, and almost all of that gain was in 2001. And the jump really isn’t that much when you consider that the first- and second-gens were based on a modified K-platform for /compact cars./ Moving to a dedicated full-width platform really increased practicality for most buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Thanks for that – duly noted above. For some reason I didn’t think of the original Caravan/Voyager/T&C.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Very true, and often, curvy shaped vehicles tend to look smaller than something more familiar and traditional.

        I remember in 1996 I was talking to a classmate about the then-new oval Taurus. He said his dad wouldn’t go look at them because he doesn’t like that they were smaller than his 1994. They were, of course, larger in all actuality, but the rounded shape and curves made it *look* smaller. As you point out, the Pacifica isn’t exactly small.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I seems to me that Chrysler has slapped aspirational pricing on a non-aspirational class of vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      People who pride themselves on their ability to produce children do aspire to own the *perfect* family vehicle, and that often includes fully loaded minivans.

      In the 60s and 70s, full size wagons were aspirational to those with a similar mindset.

      Are minivans something teenagers dream of in high school? No, but that doesn’t mean some people don’t aspire to have one because it’s a comfortable, practical, and well-equipped way to haul your offspring around in.

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    Oh, I forgot the quest. I looked at the quest but it had a much higher liftover than the competition and the rear seat didn’t fold? It wasn’t impressive at all for some cargo related reason.

    RE: Stow and go. My previous van did not have stow and go. I removed the rear seat a few times and both seats even fewer times. 90% of what I wanted to fit could be fit in it by just folding the seats flat. I could fit 2000 lbs of dirt in it, 7 arm dining chairs, a large wardrobe, a washing machine . . not at the same time, but . . . I don’t know how much I need stow and go, but we’ll see. FYI the middle seats in the Pacifica are MUCH more comfortable than the ones in the Caravan.

    My sister in law refused to even look at the Odyssey/Sienna because they didn’t have Stow n Go.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The Quest has pretty bad crash safety protection, and I’d never recommend one to anyone for that reason alone.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        The Quest was an oddity when we were shopping a few years ago. I was coming off my Altima lease, so we could have gotten a deal. But I had begun to loathe the CVT at least a year before the Altimas lease was up. My wife hated the CVT more. The lack of a true fold-flat rear seat takes much of the versatility out of the back of the van, especially since the Nissan had an absurdly high liftover (compared to every other van) because of it. The tall roof helped, but also made it ugly.

        The interior of the LE van in the showroom was really nice. More Infiniti feeling than Nissan, but since the LE was 45k or so, it had to be better. Odd driving position and strange view with lots of blindspots out the front.

        My Altima was probably my last Nissan product, unless I can ever swing a used GTR. The perfect minivan would be the Quests LE-level interior, Toyotas quiet and refinement, with the Chryslers steering feel and the Odysseys handling. I’ll be really interested to see who’s van we go with in 8 months.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I think you’ll go with a loaded up Sienna XLE, since interior matters to you.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            I like the SE Sienna more, but the Toyota appears vastly improved since we looked in ’14. I was in a ’15 LE recently that was being used as a hotel shuttle and it way better looking and feeling inside. The Odyssey still drove better though.

            It’s not that it matters that much, it’s that there was a noticeable improvement in the Quests interior quality versus the other vans at the time. I’ll be curious to check out the Kia and I hope the new Odyssey is out by then too.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think the current Quest is a case of “This would be an Infiniti if that were allowed on the product plan.” Which is what they also just did with bringing the Patrol here.

            I look for QX80 sales to fall off after next year to great extent, until they do some major revamp of that model.

  • avatar
    Hamilton Guy

    Out of curiosity, I went to the Chrysler Canada website and priced a Pacifica equipped as closely as possible to my 15 Grand caravan Crew Plus (the only options on it are tow package, safety sphere group and Drive Convenience Group. The Dodge cost me C$34,500 including taxes and the similarly equipped Pacifica would cost C$47,500 plus taxes!! Unlikely I think that it would be that much better.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Ridiculous. In 2010, I paid $18k for a 1-year-old Kia Sedona that I still own. And it has a smooth-shifting 5-speed (hint to you, FCA).

    Depreciation on a decent product can be a great thing.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I see a lot of fallacies here:

    “..buy the most expensive version of the best van available if he could. “Why not get the best one?”
    – Because, dumbo, more expensive the model more $$$ will require to maintain it. top models come either with huge rims or run-flat tires. At minimum, you will have to keep on changing those expensive performance tires more often then regular 17-inchers. this is just one example. the brakes could be bigger, more expensive too., etc.

    “The Odyssey owner said, “Longevity.”
    – what, this person is living on the moon? Oddy is probably second least reliable Honda after Passport. Although, may be – the least reliable. and made of junk materials.

  • avatar
    MLS

    “Another criticized the Chrysler as the cheaper option and said when she and her husband purchased their Grand Caravan the Town & Country didn’t even earn a second glance.”

    Shouldn’t we be disregarding this woman’s opinion, then?

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    I own a Sienna Limited – paid about 50K. And why not? There isn’t a good luxury option for families that isn’t an SUV (except the Tesla X I suppose) and you can’t fold down seats that have kids seats latched in them. Most SUVs are mediocre family options. Plus the minivan is way more practical and usable.

    Frankly if they made a Lexus F-sport version, I would have bought that even if it was 20K more.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Sounds like you found your money tree. Most people can’t waste money in batches. My biggest issue with today minivans is their price. I think that many people with 3 kids are actually barely making month to month and before, they could buy a stripper minivan for $20-23K. These days they have to pull out $30K minimum.

      • 0 avatar
        akatsuki

        And yet people snap up Mercedes GLs for families. So it isn’t that there isn’t an audience for expensive 3 row SUVs, but that people let their egos dictate what they buy.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Oh, and the T&C we had before it was a piece of crap. Really not well put together at all.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I like to buy(or lease) vehicles with a lot of equipment. But I agree that around 40k is the top for most family folks. Our ’14 Oddy EXL had a 36k window sticker and has everything we want. I’ve never found myself really wanting Touring or Touring Elite trim.

    This time, we might just upgrade to the rear seat entertainment system on whatever van we go with, but that’s it. And it will only be used for long journeys, not around the town. We have a portable system, but the wife hates dealing with the wires. 90% certain it will be another lease, so I’m not concerned with longevity or long term repair costs. Our Odyssey will need brakes and tires when it’s turned in, but that’s for Honda to deal with. Our Odyssey has only needed scheduled maintenance, the early issue with the doors being the only big time WTF issue we didn’t expect.

    If people can afford 50k minivans and there’s obviously a market, why wouldn’t the manufacturers cash in? I love the whole “if I can’t afford it, then no one can” argument. Yes, people do get in over their heads on cars, houses,etc. But that’s no reason the folks who are wise with their money shouldn’t be able to spend it on whatever they want.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • sgeffe: Or the aftermarket will come up with a way, in the form of a doohickey which plugs into the OBD II port, as...
  • sgeffe: The Malibu is about the worst, with the Equinox second. When I’m walking to/from my work lot to my office,...
  • HotPotato: Having solar on your roof makes you MORE resilient if the power goes off (if you’re smart enough to...
  • HotPotato: Translation: California is paying me a fat union retirement pension, and I’m saying thank you by...
  • AthensSlim: When I renewed last summer (‘19) there was no option to renew without also ordering a new plate for my...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber