You may mot have noticed it, but the recent demise of the 300 sedan has a huge impact on Chrysler. For one thing, it means there are no more cars in the lineup. Also, if it were not for the Pacifica (and the related Grand Caravan), we’d instead be writing the brand’s eulogy right about now.
For 2024, Chrysler is a minivan-only company catering to large families. As for the new electric vehicle that’s supposed to launch by 2026 (and may or may not revive the Airflow nameplate from the 1930s), we’re still waiting for the production model to show up.
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In other words, Chrysler is pretty much on life support at the moment. No matter what some people believe, minivans are a dying breed and most families in North America would rather purchase an SUV. Affordability is just one reason why.
While the Kia Carnival is shockingly able to maintain a base price of around $40,000, you have to spend $51,265 (including freight and PDI) to get your hands on the most basic Chrysler minivan for 2024. Leasing one makes absolutely no sense with interest rates higher than 10 percent. And don’t forget about the poor residual value.
In the case of the Pacifica specifically, what we have now is pretty much the same product we’ve come to know for the past 7-8 years, despite a fairly significant update for the 2021 model year. Obviously, the star in the lineup is the Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid, which is still the only PHEV minivan on the market.
The technology is complex and admittedly old, and the combustion engine (3.6-litre V6) randomly kicks in during the winter months, but it does enable more than 50 km of pure electric driving in ideal weather conditions, after which you can expect fuel consumption to average 8 L/100 km.
Crucially, Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid customers are entitled to a $5,000 EV rebate from the Canadian government in addition to provincial incentives where applicable. The bad news is that Chrysler has decided to shuffle the lineup for 2024, resulting in pricing changes.
The Touring-L and Limited models have been replaced by a single one called Select, to which you can tack on various packages and still get an EV rebate. At $75,190 including freight and PDI, the top-of-the-line Pinnacle is obviously too expensive to qualify for a rebate and therefore sells in marginal numbers. Bottom line: if you’re considering a Pacifica, make sure you do some math before deciding on a model.
Gas or PHEV?
A gas-powered 2024 Chrysler Pacifica will cost you at least $57,000 before you start to add some options. For 10 grand less, you can buy a Toyota Sienna with a standard hybrid powertrain and a more attractive list of features. Alternatively, for $4,500 less, the most luxurious Kia Carnival available could be yours, offering a much better minivan experience overall. In other words, the Pacifica just doesn’t cut it anymore.
The Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid (starting at $62,190) manages to stand out, although it loses the desirable Stow ‘N Go second-row seats and cannot be specified with all-wheel drive. (For the record, the AWD-equipped, non-hybrid Pacifica achieves a combined 12 L/100 km.) Driving is pleasant thanks to a solid and quiet ride, superb ergonomics and comfort levels that top the Sienna. Sure, the captain’s chairs in the second row are not as comfy as those in the Carnival SX, but we bet no kids will complain—especially if they sit in booster seats.
They’ll be much more excited about the available Uconnect Theater Family Group ($4,995), which delivers the ultimate entertainment experience for rear occupants. Included are dual 10-inch touchscreens, 4G LTE hot spot, Amazon Fire TV, 13-speaker Alpine audio, headsets, navigation, FamCam interior camera, all the connectivity options you need and more.
The Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid continues to deserve consideration, based on technology and fuel economy, but don’t get too carried away with options and packages. Also, if you need financing, it’s best to avoid those 84- and 96-month terms Chrysler is proposing. Incidentally, the current interest rate is 6.49 percent no matter how long you choose to finance your minivan.
As mentioned above, you can get more bang for your buck with either a Carnival or Sienna. The latter burns a mere 6.7 L/100 km of gasoline, has proven to be more dependable and boasts lower ownership costs in the long run. On the other hand, it does not allow zero-emission driving and isn’t eligible to a green vehicle licence plate and the various benefits that come with it.
The smartest thing to do is to search through Chrysler dealer inventories and inquire about additional discounts—something you’re not likely to get from Kia or Toyota—in order to bring the price to a more reasonable level. And keep in mind that the PHEV variant of the Pacifica offers extended coverage on hybrid system components.