Ace of Base: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica L

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Yes, yes, yes. I know that most of you wouldn’t sign on the line that is dotted for a minivan, and, honestly, neither would I. It makes no sense, really, given that a large box-shaped living room on wheels is just the ticket for road-trip comfort with the family while offering enough space for shuttling hockey bags to the rink and making hardware store runs on the weekend.

Minivan Monroneys can climb uncomfortably high – witness loaded up Odysseys and Siennas which can handily crest $50,000. Is there a lot to like at the Ace of Base end of the spectrum? Let’s see.

Setting an opening bid of $27,590, the Pacifica L has all manner of safety nannies to comfort overprotective parents. Blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic detection, and the like used to only show up on fancy-pants models not that long ago. Now, they are here on the base model. The L will also hammer the brakes on your behalf if you ignore its proximity claxons in reverse gear.

Chrysler’s useful and fairly smooth Uconnect is on board, offering up Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Satellite radio is equipped, along with the expected Bluetooth and voice command features.

It doesn’t even look that bad, with a 200-esque (remember that car?) beak and winged Chrysler badge on the grille. This base model does have low-rent hubcaps and a giant black plastic maw under its chin, sadly, but the rest of it is unoffensive to this author’s eyes.

A minivan’s key trump card is its ability to swallow a family and all its detritus, a job the Pacifica performs admirably. The L foregoes the clever second-row Stow-n-Go seats but the rearmost bench performs the magic trick of flipping and folding into the floor. Your author recalls wrestling the 60+lb bench from the rear of an extended length Ford Aerostar twenty years ago. Progress is wonderful.

The foil to this argument is, of course, its aged distant cousin – the Dodge Grand Caravan SE. It’s the vehicle that FCA just can’t quit. Lined up and then hauled off death row more times than an inmate in a Hollywood movie, the Grand Caravan has surely long paid for all its tooling and you can be guaranteed that every single one makes bank for the company.

Currently listed on Dodge’s website for $22,345 including some cash on the hood, the Grandest of Caravans makes a strong case for itself packing nearly 300hp, space galore, backup camera, and all manner of power options. The fact that a grand total of two models appear when you hit Chrysler’s build-and-price tool also gives me pause.

Dodge’s Grand Caravan looks like yesterday’s leftovers next to the Pacifica, so it’s the latter which makes the Ace of Base grade.

I still won’t buy one, though. No one said I was rational.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Gtem Gtem on Apr 18, 2018

    Welp, partially inspired by this article, I swapped out what would have been a Sportage for a Pacifica for business travel the next few days. I’m going to be making an 8 hour drive home in in tomorrow so I’ll report back with how it went. A roomy van with a Pentastar sounds a whole lot better than a compact crossover with I’m assuming the NA 2.4L (I doubt it would have been the SX) for 8 hours of midwestern highway slogging.

    • 360joules 360joules on Apr 19, 2018

      The Pentastar & 8 speed combo in my rental 300 gave me combined mileage of 28 mpg of very spirited driving between Vegas & Lake Havasu last week. My only complaint with the 8 speed is that the transmission software is ill-matched for a rental car because if you do not carefully modulate/feather the gas pedal for slow acceleration between 70-80 mph, the transmission kicks down several gears thinking you are wanting to pass. Chrysler transmission software (ultra drive) does a nice job of learning the driver of an owner occupied vehicle but in rental car use the software defaults to higher revs in kickdow mode.

  • Jesse53 Jesse53 on May 03, 2018

    I've had several minivans for the last 28 years. Currently have a 2008 Grand caravan that I got a great deal on, very happy with it w/ 115k on it. I can't live without one being a working drummer in a band, the stow-n-go seats great idea.

  • Carguy949 You point out that Rivian and Tesla lack hybrids to “bring home the bacon”, but I would clarify that Tesla currently makes a profit while Rivian doesn’t.
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