Chrysler Pacifica: 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year Finalist

We Like: Its styling inside and out, functionality, and independent rear suspension.

We Don’t Like: Waiting for the hybrid.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan surprised and delighted. Chris Theodore called it the best Chrysler minivan since the 1996 model was named Motor Trend Car of the Year.

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Judges were impressed with the drive performance, which had surprisingly little body roll, an improved nine-speed transmission, and an adroitness that belies the minivan class. “If you didn’t know you were in a minivan and opened your eyes for the first time,” guest judge Theodore said, “you’d swear you were in a luxury SUV.”

We like the modern look, hidden sliding door tracks, and tasteful interior with touches such as van silhouettes imprinted into the console rubber mat. Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh liked the satin nickel finish and called the steering wheel “a joy to hold.”

As technical director Frank Markus said, functionality is a minivan’s “sole raison d’être,” and the Pacifica gets top marks for the comfortable Stow ’n Go seats, which can fold flat or tilt forward with a child seat intact. A lighter body allowed Chrysler to add more equipment, including a built-in vacuum, the van’s first independent rear suspension, and the upcoming hybrid two-motor e-CVT, which gets 80 mpg-e and could be a game changer. We like the option of normal or adaptive cruise control for when road crud fouls the radar lens.

The result: a lot of vehicle for the price. International bureau chief Angus MacKenzie summarized our thoughts: “The Pacifica is class-leading and by far the best thing sold under the Chrysler nameplate at the moment.”

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