Chicago Auto Show 2020
Chrysler launches major Pacifica refresh for 2021, offering AWD option
Chrysler is launching a major refresh of its Pacifica minivan by offering an all-wheel-drive model, improving the styling, adding new technology, and making a host of advanced safety features standard equipment.
The improvements in the 2021 Pacifica, unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday, are apparent at first glance.
The new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica (shown here in the Pinnacle model) will offer America's most capable minivan with all-wheel-drive and the most standard safety features in the industry. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
The grille is accented by converging hockey stick-shaped LED daytime running lights. That same hockey stick theme is carried through in the body sculpture along the side panels back to the rear of the van. It repeats again in the lighting that now stretches across the length of the rear hatch. The styling mutes the van design and provides a sense of fluid movement.
The 2021 Pacifica is the first van from Chrysler to have an all-wheel-drive option since the 2004 Town & Country. Chrysler designed the system so that it saves fuel by turning on only when vehicle sensors detect a need. Drivers don't have to push any buttons or change settings. It delivers hard acceleration, indicating a need for more grip and power, when the electronic stability systems starts to detect slipping or a loss of control, or in fast, tight turns where extra torque is required. The system also looks for other cues, such as cold exterior temperature and windshield wiper use.
Chrysler will make the AWD option available in the current Pacifica through the end of the model year to satisfy customer demand for the option.
The new Pacifica gets a dramatically improved interior highlighted by a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen, the largest among minivans. That's 20-percent bigger than the current model. It will be the first of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' vehicles to get the fifth-generation Uconnect infotainment system.
Chrysler has managed to make the Pacifica more serene with a new Pinnacle trim level that features near-luxury level appointments.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
To keep track of passengers, the minivan has a camera that provides a view of rear-facing child seat occupants, split-view display and unique "zoom-to-seat" feature. The Honda Odyssey currently has similar camera technology, but without the split-view display and zoom feature.
Chrysler is addressing customer complaints by making the van quieter by adding acoustic windshield glass and thicker sliding door glass to all Pacifica models. The Limited, Pinnacle, and all plug-in hybrid models get acoustic front side glass.
With its refreshed design, the automaker's strategy is to give the Pacifica a makeover so that it looks more like an SUV – the most popular segment of the U.S. auto market. Chrysler, which invented the minivan and has sold more than 15 million over the decades, is trying to add some emotion to the segment.
The automaker also wants to create some distance between the more upscale Pacifica and its budget-friendly minivan sibling, the Chrysler Voyager.
The Pacifica Pinnnacle comes with pillows for rear seat passengers. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
It's not that the company expects consumers to trade their SUVs for minivans. Rather it's targeting buyers who are looking to replace sedans but want a practical family hauler that looks interesting and provides both amenities and comfort.
Part of this strategy includes launching the Pinnacle trim line that can compete with the interiors of three-row luxury SUVs.
The interior features quilted Nappa leather bolstering in the seats. Stitching accents the elegant caramel color leather of the seating and interior panels. The rear seats come with additional stitched leather pillows.
Exterior touches include a satin carbon grille and platinum chrome on all exterior edgings, moldings, and badging. A new Pinnacle side door nameplate in the Pacifica font is also platinum chrome.
The new 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen is seamlessly placed in the dashboard. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
There are 12 USB Type A and Type C ports to keep a bevy of devices charged. And there's plenty of small item storage space that is prime for those devices.
The Pinnacle comes with what Chrysler is calling an "ultra" console. It provides 13.65 liters of overall storage, about a third more than the current Pacifica. Almost 90% of that area is covered. Additionally, there are second-row storage bins in the floor.
Chrysler is packing the Pacifica with what it says are the most standard safety features in the segment. Those include forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking. The braking also works when sensors detect pedestrians in front of the vehicle. There is also adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, the latter of which taps the electronic power steering to assist the driver with corrective action if the vehicle starts to drift.
Chrysler will offer the 2021 Pacifica with multi-angle view cameras that keep an eye on passengers.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
Engine choices won't change for the new model year. The van has a V6 gasoline engine that delivers 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. There also is the plug-in hybrid powertrain that offers an all-electric range of more than 30 miles and a total range of more than 500 miles.
The 2021 Pacifica will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year. Chrysler will release pricing information closer to start of sales.
Check out a peek inside the Pacifica from the floor of the Chicago Auto Show:
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