Most family-minded buyers out there are buying crossovers these days, but that doesn’t mean the good-old minivan is on its way out anytime soon. Honda, Toyota, Kia, and indeed Chrysler are still in the game, and FCA is actually upping its minivan game for the 2021 model year with the Pacifica. The model receives a modest facelift — and (in my opinion) a handsome one at that — as well as a new high-end Pinnacle trim. The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica also integrates Uconnect 5, which is the latest version of FCA’s infotainment system. But that’s not all, as the Pacifica finally has an all-wheel drive option, meaning the Toyota Sienna now has a modern challenger in that space.
Starting with the all-wheel drive system, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica now has a configuration that hasn’t been on one of its vans since 2004, with the Town & Country. The fully automated all-wheel drive system can send all available engine torque to the rear wheels if the situation calls for it, as well as to whichever wheels have the most traction.
A key part of that system include a Power Transfer Unit integrated into the nine-speed automatic transmission. That sends power to the rear drive module, which is connected by a three-piece driveshaft and houses a wet clutch that manages torque distribution to the rear wheels. The Pacifica’s AWD setup also uses a brake-lock differential system with larger to further help send torque to the wheels that can best use it.
The all-wheel drive system will be available on all four Pacifica models, including the Touring, Touring L, Limited and Pinnacle.
The powertrain remains the same
FCA’s corporate Pentastar V-6 engine carries on in the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica, including in the hybrid model. For standard Pacificas, the 3.6-liter engine puts out 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, again to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid uses a modified version of that engine, coupled to an electric motor and FCA’s dual-motor eFlight variable transmission.
On the plug-in hybrid model, FCA still promises more than 30 miles of all-electric range and a fuel economy rating of 80 MPGe. The total range for the Pacifica Hybrid is still more than 500 miles, according to the company’s statement.
Styling, tech changes
At first glance, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica doesn’t look radically different to the old model. The grille is more pronounced in this version, as is the rear taillamp assembly. New LED headlights and fog lights are standard on the new model, and there’s a new color called Fathom Blue, as well as new wheel designs.
Notably, while the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica looks different than before, the upcoming entry-level Voyager will not get the same styling treatment. Along with the Pinnacle trim, the looks are FCA’s way to distinguish the two vans from one another.
Inside, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster is now standard equipment, while the 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 system is available as well. Chrysler also added USB-C ports for charging, as well as a wireless charging option for your smartphone. The S Appearance package is still available if you want a bit of a spicier look. Finally, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica boasts a wide range of safety equipment, including things like radar-guided emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and lane keep assist.
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica debuted at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, and we expect it to launch later this year. FCA did not mention a specific date or pricing at this time, but we should know more in the coming months. Stay tuned for more updates from the 2020 Chicago Auto Show!