2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD

The Pacifica continues to lead the way the minivan segment will evolve.
The Pacifica continues to lead the way the minivan segment will evolve.

by Nelson Chong | July 7, 2021


This is the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD. Chrysler is the daddy of minivans; the pioneers who produced the first mass-produced minivans back in 1984. Not only were they creators but they were also innovators that lead the market and shaped the minivan into the feature-packed living room on wheels we know today. Features such as dual sliding doors, power liftgate, and in car entertainment are all innovations from Chrysler for the segment throughout six generations of evolution.

Chrysler dominates the minivan segment it created with a 60% market share in Canada. The data indicates that they makes the most popular minivans in Canada. The new Pacifica Pinnacle is the current flagship, being a spiritual successor to the Town and Country. This is a representation of six generations of refinement and evolution. The pressure is on for the Pacifica to carry the torch and maintain the legacy of the Chrysler minivan.

In recent years the buying population has become more image conscious, almost leading to the SUV market which has been decimating the minivan segment. The Chrysler Pacifica is one of the first minivans offered with a more stylish design. The Pinnacle model we have this week has has a sculpted lower front fascia paired with LED headlamps giving it a more sophisticated and luxurious appeal. The rear windscreen wraps around the corners of the car and integrated with the LED taillights.

Chrysler made sure the Pacifica is a sharply styled vehicle and not just a box on wheels. The top-spec Pinnacle model tested here adds touches like chrome wing mirrors and 20-inch wheels adding to the exterior appeal. All these efforts help to break the stigma of being uncool for driving a minivan.

The interior of the Pacifica is what makes it great with incredible comfort, versatility and cargo capacity. The Pinnacle cranks all of that up tenfold making the Pacifica a full-on luxury vehicle. The interior is finished in a two tone colour scheme with black and caramel. The seats are diamond stitched with perforated Nappa leather for both bling and comfort. Both heat and cooling can pass through the leather efficiently to keep occupants comfortable. This is the first time I have seen a minivan with a suede headliner.

The Pinnacle model has a bridged console for more storage and a car like configuration which seems to be the new trend, eliminating the center pass through. Interior panels are finished in leather-like soft touch materials with contrast stitching. Faux wood and aluminum accents all come together for a luxury finish. The rear seats get the same treatment and passengers even get a quilted leather pillow for added back support. Talk about getting pampered – Chrysler has pulled out all the stops to make the Pacifica a true luxury family hauler.

Having all the luxury touches is not enough without the technology to ensure a smooth and integrated user experience. The Pacifica has the tech not only to satisfy the driver but all the passengers as well. In the center console is a high resolution 10.1-inch screen running Uconnect 5, and music is amplified through a Harman-Kardon system. The interface is user friendly and intuitive for anyone that is affluent with their smartphones. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is available as well for those who prefer, however connection with a USB cord can be hit and miss at times. Overall system responsiveness can be improved with various instances where inputs are met with delayed response.

The high resolution display with attractive interface design makes drivers forgive the flaws most of the time. The instrument cluster is a combination of traditional analog gauges with a seven-inch digital display. All the large screens give off a high-tech vibe in the cabin, and rear passengers are given the same level of attention with Uconnect Theatre. Second row passengers get access to a pair of seat-mounted 10.1-inch screens for entertainment.

Wireless headphones mean passengers can immerse themselves without distracting the driver. There is an abundance of USB ports and HDMI connections to make sure passengers can keep connected and charged for the longest trips. A unique family oriented feature is the FamCAM which a rear camera giving the driver a bird’s eye view of all of the passengers. This is especially useful for checking on babies in rear facing seats. Features like this really show you Chrysler has truly thought of everything to make taking care of the family easy.

Convenience features such as third row Stow’N’Go make for an incredibly versatile cargo hold. A power folding third row in theory is an excellent feature, but in practice I find myself thinking it would be faster to fold them manually. The Pinnacle trim with the Premium Captain second row means Stow’N’Go here is not an option, but that leaves in floor storage.

With the third row stowed, the Pacifica has a massive 2,477-liters of capacity. I was able to fit a large mountain bike and two kids’ bike into the back. This is something you won’t be able to do even in the largest SUVs on the market. Even with all the seats up, capacity is at 914-liters. Our tester is equipped with the $895 optional Trailer Tow Group that gives the van a 3,600-pound tow rating.

The Pacifica is not only about pampering its occupants but also keeping them safe. It boasts a long list of safety features such as lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, frontal collision prevention and adaptive cruise with stop and go. To make maneuvering the Pacifica easier in the parking lots, it is equipped with a park assist system as well.

One of the biggest additions to the Pacifica lineup to improve safety is the option of all-wheel-drive, available on all non-hybrid models across all trim levels. It’s also one of the most advanced systems ever used in a minivan, capable of sending all torque to the rear wheels. As we all know, Canadians love all-wheel-drive to head into the ski hills in the colder months.

With all of this weight, the Pacifica does feel heavy and cumbersome at speeds, or if a corner is taken with some added eagerness. The ride around the city feels a busy, but smooths out significantly as speeds increase. Power is sufficient from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine under the hood producing 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque.

The engine is smooth and refined; however throttle tuning could use some improvements. Throttle tip in is too aggressive making it hard to drive smoothly. Fuel efficiency is impressive considering the addition of all-wheel-drive. The Pacifica is rated at 14.1L/100km city and 9.4L/100km highway for combined consumption of 12.0L/100km. We managed 12.8L/100km average during a week of testing.

The minivan market has shrunk significantly with the other main contenders being the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and new Kia Carnival. The Sienna is the only rival offering all-wheel-drive and hybrid powertrain. Our tester is the top of the line model with an as tested price of $68,785 reflecting all the luxuries this vehicle offers. A fully loaded Toyota Sienna is priced at a whopping $10,000 less for $58,445, but only offers four cylinders regardless of trim.

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD continues to lead the way the minivan segment will evolve. It is the first and only minivan with this level of luxury appointments. The Pacifica continues to deliver innovative ideas into the market and show all Canadians that no one makes minivans like Chrysler.

See Also:

First Drive: 2022 Kia Carnival

2021 Toyota Sienna Limited AWD

2019 Honda Odyssey Touring

Vehicle Specs
Engine Size
Horsepower (at RPM)
Torque (lb-ft.)
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Nelson Chong

Staff Writer

A father, husband, and photographer, Nelson is a genuine car nut through and through. When not out and about testing the latest in the industry, he can be found behind the lens or the wheel of one of his Japanese icons.

Current Toys: ’04 S2000, ’18 Civic Type R, ’23 Model Y