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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

2023 Chrysler Pacifica eHybrid Pinnacle: Better than a Telluride or Tahoe?

Minivans were everywhere in the 80s and 90s, invited by the Chrysler brand as the ultimate people mover, now a dying trend to the popularity of the SUV. We drove a 2023 Chrysler Pacifica eHybrid Pinnacle over 3,000 miles and contend that they are still the best choice for those wanting to move people or things.

Confession time, I grew up in a 1992 Plymouth Grand Voyager that was almost exactly this color inside and out, so this press loan really took me back to my childhood.

As a millennial, I have an ever-changing relationship with the minivan. I loved our Grand Voyager when my parents replaced our Oldsmobile station wagon (complete with fake wood paneling) with a much larger vehicle to move my older brother and me around. With our second-row captain's chairs and single sliding door, we might as well have been riding around in a Star Trek TNG shuttle. While it was a different time and we were allowed to legally ride up front, the loss of "dibs" to the other sibling did not carry quite the sting it would have in other vehicles.

My parents didn't need to get this minivan. It was only my brother and myself. We didn't play sports or need frequent trips anywhere for any type of practice. We weren't constantly loading the back with a bunch of gear that couldn't have fit in a midsize sedan of the era, but we would frequently drive 2+ hours to either set of grandparents' houses and the minivan made the perfect road trip mobile.

I still remember my mom's revelation to place a basket of toys in the gap between our seats for the long ride to southern Louisiana or central Texas. This was a major win in the battle of "he's on my side" which we used to play in the station wagon. Individual seats made for clear distinction for each of us while also giving us the room for a basket of road trip activities that would be boring to us before we left the Houston metro area.

The minivan craze in our family did not stop in our own household but also translated to my dad's parents who ended up getting a 1994 Dodge Grand Caravan. I still remember them pulling out all the stops with their purchase and getting all the options my young brain could comprehend, including power-opening third-row vent windows and rear A/C controls. My longest trip in this van was from southern Louisiana to Orlando in 1995 for my first and only trip to the most magical place on earth.

By the time we moved to East Texas, I began to find an interest in cars, most notably muscle cars and pony cars thanks to our neighbor's Camaro. As my obsession grew, my interest in the minivan diminished. Practicality isn't cool to a 10-year-old. I want fast and loud.

Mom replaced her Grand Voyager with a 1998 Pontiac Widetrack Grand Prix GTP...yes, the supercharged one. It was bright red and would do 0-60 mph about 6.5 seconds. The minivan was dead to me.

Our family's minivan replacement, 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP

Minivans make a great place to escape the heat

Fast forward to my 20s and I became a youth pastor in need of a vehicle to transport teenagers to various events, concerts, ball games, etc. Enter the Dodge Caravan. I was in a new world once more. Did you know they added sliding doors to BOTH sides?!? The seats would fold flat INTO the floor!!! You could get DVD players and power sliding doors. The rear hatch would open and close with the push of a button! Was the minivan cool again? No, I told myself, but they are fun to rent. Besides, I daily drove a Camaro SS, my dream car.

By this time, SUVs had hit their stride full force. Brands you never would have imagined embracing the form factor were making tall cars and branding them SUVs or began just outright making an SUV. Porsche's best-selling vehicle was an SUV for crying out loud. The world was changing, but where did this leave the minivan?

Practicality isn't cool. My ten-year-old self knew that. The world had moved on. SUVs projected a tough, do-anything attitude, minivans exuded mediocrity. For many my age, buying a minivan was something you were forced to do, not something you wanted to do. It was a sign that you had given up or given in.

Now as a father of a five-year-old, I get it all over again. The appeal of the minivan. Sliding doors are not only easier in parking lots, they don't run the risk of hitting other vehicles if the kid opens them. Power sliding doors mean Tucker can open the door and the low floor means he can climb in himself and start getting buckled before I ever get there (though I can count the times this has happened on one hand). The seats folding into the floor make so much more sense than removing them which must be done to maximize space in most modern SUVs. In fact, the space in our Chrysler Pacifica is much more than Chevy's massive Tahoe SUV, and almost as much as the even larger Suburban. Don't believe me? Look at the numbers:

And the minivan can do this with a V6, 4-cylinder, or hybrid powertrain that gets double the fuel economy of those large boxes on wheels.

Sure, the minivan does not have the ground clearance or off-road capability of the Tahoe or Suburban, but how often are you planning on taking your $80,000 Chevy off-road? Chances are the minivan would be a better daily option for you, and you can rent something for when you are going on an off-road adventure.

That brings us to our tester, a 2023 Chrysler Pacifica eHybrid in the top Pinnacle trim. This thing has it all: dual power sliding doors with 15,000 different ways to open them, rear seat entertainment that connects to the internet and can be played up front when stopped, heated and ventilated front seats for the parents, a camera in the rear ceiling to keep an eye on what is happening behind you (literal eyes in the back of your head), and so much more.

We took ours on a 3,000 mile road trip up the eastern half of historic Route 66 to prove exactly why this is the ultimate road trip vehicle, more on that coming very soon.

All this to say, I get the appeal of minivans now. I see why my parents bought one back when they were the new thing, and I don't understand why more parents don't buy them now. I apologize to the minivan platform for my years in my youth thinking there were cooler, better options for transportation. Yes, they are roomier, more fuel efficient, and cheaper, while offering more amenities for growing families. Minivans may not be the coolest or flashiest, but they get the job done better than anything else on the road.

2023 Chrysler Pacifica eHybrid Pinnacle Specs:

  • 3.6L Pentastar V6 Engine

  • 16 kWh Lithium-ion Battery

  • Single Electric Motor

  • 260 Horsepower

  • 262 lb-ft of Torque

  • Electric Continuously Variable Transmission

  • Front-Wheel Drive

  • Regenerative Braking System

  • Seating for 7

  • Heated and Ventilated Front Seats with 2-person Driver Memory

  • Second Row Captains Chairs

  • Fold Into the Floor Third Row Bench Seat

  • Retractable Rear Sunshades

  • Nappa Leather Seating Surfaces

  • Suede Headliner

  • 18-inch Aluminum Wheels

  • 236/60R18 All-Season Tires

  • 10.1-inch Infotainment Screen with Wireless Apple CarPlay® & Android Auto™

  • Uconnect® 5

  • FamCam™ Rear Interior Camera System

  • In-vehicle Wifi Hotspot

  • Amazon Fire TV and Dual Rear Seat Entertainment Screens

  • 20-speaker Harman Kardon® Sound System

  • 3-Zone Automatic Climate Control

  • Hands-Free Sliding Doors

  • Panoramic Sunroof

  • Automatic High Beams

  • ParkSense Front and Rear Park-Assist

  • Parallel and Perpendicular Park-Assist

  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go

  • Lane Departure Warning Plus

  • Pedestrian Emergency Braking

  • Full-Speed Collision Warning Plus

  • Rain-Sensitive Windshield Wipers

  • Advanced Brake-Assist

  • Blind-Spot and Rear Cross-Path Detection

  • Rear Seat Reminder

  • Proximity Key with Push Button Start

  • EPA Fuel Economy

    • 30 MPG Combined (Gas-only)

    • 82 MPGe Combined

    • 32 Miles of all-electric Range

  • Starting MSRP $50,795 (Touring L)

  • Price as tested: $62,085

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