Nick Cannon, pop culture hipster and host of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” visited the Motor City to help Chrysler debut its brand new minivan, the Pacifica, on the opening day of the North American International Auto Show and FIVE DOLLAR SHAKE was invited for an up close look at the first introduction of this vehicle to the public. Cannon spent the day interacting with auto show attendees through a game show style format that educated people about the great features incorporated into the brand new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. His charismatic banter with people consistently reinforced that while some minivans may be considered stodgy the new Pacifica on the other hand is “stylish and useful.”
After observing Nick’s Pop Quiz of auto show visitors passing by the Pacifica display, Bruce Velisek (head of marketing for the Chrysler brand at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) pulled me aside to provide a personal tour of all the new aspects to the company’s sixth generation of minivans. Velisek noted that since the first Chrysler minivan was introduced in 1984 the company has been the leader in that automotive industry segment but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) doesn’t want to take the top spot for granted so they have re-designed the brand new 2017 Pacifica from the ground up. During the five previous generations of these vehicles, Chrysler has led the industry segment with 78 features that were first introduced in their minivans and in that spirit of innovation designers and engineers have added an additional 37 minivan “firsts” that will be introduced just by the Pacifica alone. A few of the minivan features being introduced in the Pacifica include active noise cancellation technology, capless fuel fill, second-row seats that can easy tilt while children’s safety seats are installed, hands free power sliding doors and liftgate, and in-vehicle wireless device connectivity. Plus the Pacifica will be the first minivan available with a plug-in hybrid electrical option. Consumers can select from a traditional gas engine or a hybrid electrical model when it comes to purchasing or leasing a Pacifica.
Responding to customer feedback, Chrysler has also enhanced some aspects of the Pacifica to improve consumer satisfaction with their minivans. They’ve removed the overhead television monitors for the vehicle’s entertainment system and instead embedded the screens within the backs of the front seats. These screens now each have plug in portals and wireless connectivity so that people can download or stream content directly from a laptop or mobile device. So my son can watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles downloaded from an iPad on his screen and my daughter can watch the most recent episode of The Muppets television show streamed from an Android phone on hers without my having to worry about the rear view mirror being blocked by a TV screen or having to hear them complain about who gets to watch what from the old single central screen format like we currently have on our Town and Country. Of course with all the mobile devices and other tech people now carry around with them there is always a demand to power them up so more USB ports have been added throughout to help all the vehicle’s occupants keep their devices running when on the go. Plus to keep the vehicle clean and tidy, they’ve integrated a commercial grade vacuum into the Pacifica.
I also have to say Chrysler’s research team must have secretly been following me around witnessing my loading and unloading our family’s minivan because now with the Pacifica you just need to make a kicking motion under the sliding door or bumper to have it automatically open or close for you . That would be very useful and convenient for me. It always seems my hands are full when we’re getting in and out of our family’s minivan whether it is soccer gear, landscaping and home improvement supplies, an armful of groceries, or my kids leaving their school backpacks behind.
Velisek referenced that Chrysler appreciates its minivans’ reputation for being family-friendly transportation and so in addition to all the neat bell and whistle amenities added to the Pacifica ensuring rider safety in the vehicle was an absolute priority. With that in mind over 100 safety features are available on the Pacifica. Available for the first time on the all-new Pacifica is the Surround View camera, which uses four cameras positioned around the vehicle to provide 360-degree views, including a bird’s eye perspective of the vehicle and its surroundings. Other advanced safety features include:
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Hold, which maintains the distance between the vehicle and the one in front of it, and can bring the vehicle to a controlled stop under certain circumstances;
- Forward Collision Warning-Plus deploys the brakes to alert the driver if an impact appears imminent, and assists with driver response;
- LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus leverages electronic power steering (EPS) to alert and assist the driver with corrective action.
A big focus of the presentation by Chrysler was on the Hybrid version of the Pacifica. The Pacifica Hybrid, the industry’s first electrified minivan, will deliver an estimated range of 30 miles solely on zero-emissions electric power from a 16-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. In city driving, it is expected to achieve an efficiency rating of 80 MPGe based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. When combining the use of its batteries with a tank of gas, the vehicle has about a 280 mile range before needing to refuel. Any electric car needs adequate space for bulky batteries which often inhibits passenger space. To provide the necessary space for the batteries without comprising usable interior space, the Hybrid will only have stow ‘n go seating only in the third row and the floor bins that would normally be used to stow the second row seats are now where the batteries are stored.
You don’t need to install anything special to power up the Pacifica’s batteries either. Just plug it into the standard electrical outlet in your garage and you are good to go. How about that?! Vesilek also mentioned that purchasing the Pacifica Hybrid also qualifies you for a federal tax credit. If you’d prefer sticking with a traditional engine, Pacifica gasoline models have the latest iteration of the award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. The gasoline model will be available later this spring and the Hybrid model will be available in the second half of 2016.
It was really nice to be able to make a trip down to the auto show and talk first hand with the folks at Chrysler about the next generation of their minivan. This isn’t just a name change, the vehicle has an all new platform with updated styling and features which give this minvan a new attitude. I have to agree with Nick Cannon. With its huge cargo capacity, entertainment options, safety features, and multiple driving conveniences the Chrysler Pacifica really is stylish and useful. To check out this vehicle yourself you can swing by the North American International Auto Show in Detroit until January 24th or visit Chrysler.com/Pacifica
A GEEK DADDY contributed this article. For stories about his adventures in parenting, product & entertainment reviews from a dad’s perspective and fun giveaways visit www.ageekdaddy.com