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The Pinnacle of practical

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As practical as the minivan is, as much as it saved Chrysler in the 1980s, as much as it can’t be beat for interior volume for its footprint, there’s one question that comes to mind having driven the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle: Is there really a market for a $70,000 minivan?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/10/2021 (406 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As practical as the minivan is, as much as it saved Chrysler in the 1980s, as much as it can’t be beat for interior volume for its footprint, there’s one question that comes to mind having driven the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle: Is there really a market for a $70,000 minivan?

“Absolutely,” says Jordan Wasylyk, who, as a product communications manager for Stellantis, has responsibility for Chrysler minivans. “With the Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle, we are targeting customers who desire a vehicle loaded with premium appointments.”

“The lineup includes a range of options, from the budget-friendly Chrysler Grand Caravan… to the Pinnacle model for those who desire a premium people mover.”

Kelly Taylor photos / Winnipeg Free Press The Pinnacle is available as either a gas-only or a hybrid gas-electric minivan.

There’s some substance to Wasylyk’s assertion: in the second quarter of 2021, Chrysler sold 893 Pacifica models. A breakdown by trim levels is not provided.

The other question is this: having driven a Pinnacle, how does one top that?

There’s no doubting that the Pinnacle is posh. The seats are form-fittingly comfy, wrapped in leather, of course. There’s every trick known to driverkind: heated seats, heated steering wheel, premium audio, DVD player with twin rear-facing screens in the front seatback, sunroof, satellite radio, radar cruise control.

It’s for the soccer player who absolutely, positively must get there… in style.

A few of the accoutrements, however, seem just a little precious for a vehicle that in most of its forms is aimed at families. It comes with nicely upholstered pillows for the rear seats. Gorgeous little leather pillows with an elegant diamond pattern to their stitching. They offer nice lumbar support, and are a nice touch for those whose rear-seat passengers are more, um, mature. With kids, they’d get lost, dirty or tossed in pillow fights.

The Pinnacle offers every creature comfort you could expect in a minivan.

The Pacifica comes with a plethora of powertrain options, from the standard 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 gas engine to a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, both based on the same V-6. The gas-only V-6 was the engine in the test vehicle: it delivers 287 horsepower and 262 pound feet of torque. Gas models are available as front- or all-wheel drive while hybrid models are front-drive only.

In the Chrysler universe, there’s the Grand Caravan, starting at $34,512, and the Pacifica, starting at $38,571. The Pinnacle, which is loaded to the point the only options were $100 for Velvet Red Pearl paint and $895 for a towing package, rolls out the door as-tested at $68,785, including $1,895 in destination fee.

The extensive list of features include heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 360-degree overhead view camera system (called by some journalists ‘God view’), parallel and perpendicular parking assist, suede headliner, heated steering wheel and third-row Stow-n-Go seat.

The second row seats aren’t Stow-n-Go, likely to allow for more comfortable seat padding than is typical on Stow-n-Go seats. Where the seats would stow, however, remain in-floor storage bins, which, to me, are of far greater benefit than the ability to stow seats.

The first Caravan rolled off assembly lines in 1984, which means Chrysler, through its various incarnations, has had 37 years to get the minivan concept right. The Pacifica Pinnacle is clearly the beneficiary of all that practice.

Nothing beats the interior room in a minivan, not even the largest of SUVs.
These pillows are pretty, but probably best suited to mature passengers.
Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor
Copy Editor, Autos Reporter

Kelly Taylor is a Winnipeg Free Press copy editor and award-winning automotive journalist. He's been a member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada since 2001.

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