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How the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica made minivans great again

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(Read caption) The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

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Just when it felt like Chrysler had given up on the minivan—the car that automotive historians will remind you helped save the company about three decades ago—out of nowhere comes the Chrysler Pacifica.

It revives a forgotten nameplate once attached to a bloated crossover-like vehicle, but that's about all it has in common with its predecessor. Instead, the Pacifica is decidedly forward-looking.

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If anything is going to bring back the minivan segment, it's going to be the Pacifica. It replaces the Chrysler Town & Country and soon the company's Dodge division will phase out its Grand Caravan, leaving just one impressive people carrier in this lineup.

Unlike Chrysler vans of yore, there's no base model on offer here. Even the entry-level Pacifica comes loaded with a high-tech 9-speed automatic gearbox and a 3.6-liter V-6 gas engine. Yeah, we've disliked that gearbox before, but (finally) Chrysler has gotten its tuning just right in the Pacifica. 

Even the Pacifica LX comes nicely-equipped at a hair under $30,000. Front and second row passengers sit in comfortable captain's chairs, while the third row is a conventional bench. Always a master of minivan packaging, Chrysler continues to lead the pack. The second and third rows both tumble away with ease into the van's floor, revealing a flat load space big enough to haul full-size plywood. But unlike the last generation of minivan to leave Chrysler's design studios, this one looks and feels upmarket all around.

A wide range of models are on offer, culminating in the Limited that nearly gives a Range Rover a run for its money inside. Well, not quite—but with screens that include games for second row passengers, an especially strong vacuum, hands-free power sliding doors and tailgate, and luxurious Nappa leather, it's a refined place for whittling away the miles. Even kiddos will appreciate HDMI and USB ports scattered throughout the cabin for device charging and movie watching. 

Chrysler invented the minivan in 1983, and this year, it changes decades of history with its latest offering, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Will its unbeatable blend of practicality, refinement, and comfort help it come out on top for our 2017 Best Car to Buy award? We'll know very soon. 


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