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DRIVEN: 2020 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Launch Edition


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DRIVEN: 2020 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Launch Edition:

Well, the lease end is approaching soon and time to get into market to see what the newest is in the family haulers.  We currently lease a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica and its been fantastic.  But as you know, the market never stops.  And, my curiosity was piqued, to find out that the 2021 Pacifica coming out soon was to arrive with an all wheel drive option!  Not that is it always needed, but living in a snow state, all wheel drive can always be a benefit, especially on those really tough stormy days or when you need to get up a slick driveway and need the traction wherever you can get it.  And best thing...no functional compromises for the all wheel drive...the Sto N Go seats into floor system that has made FCA vans famous remains in tact and fully functional with the all wheel drive.  No sacrifices!  Have we finally hit family hauler holy grail?  (The Sienna all wheel drive has had run flat tires).

So much to my surprise, one day, surfing my local Chrysler dealer who is 2 miles from home, I found something strange.  They had listed some ---2020--- Pacificas with ALL WHEEL DRIVE.  WUT?  That's not supposed to be till 2021!  Well, a trip to Chrysler.com confirmed....Chrysler snuck in a late end of model year trim package for what they are calling the all wheel drive 'launch edition' Pacifica.  It will be a unicorn among Pacifica's with the 2020 design and not the upcoming refreshed body of the 2021.

Well, figuring my wife has suggested that maybe she doesn't want another minivan (while full well admitting she loves the function and space), I figured I had to at least drive the all wheel drive Pacifica to see how it compares from a ride and drive standpoint to the current front drive only Pacifica, which is a great driving minivan.  IS anything sacrificed in the ride and drive?  

Here's my prior review of the 2017 Pacifica for prior notes, so i won't go deep into the review other than just comparing the new all wheel drive vs the current:

And the thread on the vehicle we lease currently, the 2018 Pacifica.

soooooooo

 

DRIVEN: 2020 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Launch Edition:

 

HIGHS

-The all wheel drive pricing is not expensive.  Chrysler is keeping it within reach for budget conscious family buyers.  A decked out Pacifica AWD still comes in less than similarly sized and decked out AWD crossovers.

-eye catching looks still there, the "S" package of tested unit even looks sporty as heck, for any vehicle.  Inside, as well.  Our van has the tan interior, but this one with the black interior, makes it feel sporty inside as well.

-no functional compromises.  Chrysler has in fact pulled off a great effort here.  The Sto N Go was not sacrificed to incorporate the all wheel drive.

-Pentastar v6 remains strong, although it bit slower off the line...unless you stomp the gas.  Then it snarls and takes off just as the current van.  I imagine maybe 1/2 second is lost in 0-60 if i go on feel.  

-The transmission shifts the same / similar.  So no noticeably different transmission behavior.

-No changes to the seating floor or cargo floor, either.  No one would suspect this car has a driveshaft going underneath to the back.  No clues at all.

LOWS

-There is a 2-3 mpg hit on the fuel economy.  But when gas is closer to 2 bucks a gallon, that is not a huge deal.  Plus the gas mileage was great to begin with; when the snow flies, the minor loss of fuel economy is well worth the trade in traction on bad days in this case.

-The extra weight of the AWD system can be felt.  Probably not by most casual observers unless you mentioned to them on back to back test drives.  Still, the Pacifica was car like....the AWD dulls the agility of the vehicle some.  It doesn't feel ponderous or anything, though.

-The addition of all wheel drive doesn't transform the van into a crossover (the cool group).  It's still genuinely a van...maybe they should have added cladding.  LOL.

-Let's see if the newly engineered AWD system is reliable.  Some folks avoid AWD vehicles due to their occasional penchant to break down and cause problems more often than their FWD counterparts.

-New dual level full console with real armrest and place to put phone is only being made available on Pinnacle trim in the 2021 refresh.

SUMMARY

This is a full win for Chrysler here.  They turned their successful Pacifica van into a better competitor to the crossover market by adding the all wheel drive option, and did so without a compromise to the core assets of what drivers look for in a van.  All the function is preserved with no sacrifice, and the performance penalty is not much.  Most drivers would never even know whether they are driving the all wheel drive version or the front drive only version, unless you told them.  And with the plethora of trim and appearance packages Chrysler offers, it is possible to get a luxurious van with AWD, or a sporty looking van with AWD.  Chrysler was supposed to die...maybe this keeps them on life support.

Here's some photos...

 

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Edited by regfootball
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14 hours ago, daves87rs said:

I’m pretty good with Vans in the snow...think I could skip the AWD...

Looked at a base one with the 800 added S package in blue is pretty sexy......

yeah, we've done ok with ours front only, except when the OEM crap Michelins wore out early.  We put Toyo all weather snow rated tires on it for last winter and it improved it.  But to me to provide the buyer a choice and let them decide is the best thing.  The sales guy i worked with for this test drive said another woman had purchased the van i did come in to look at first, she saw it had all wheel drive and jumped on it fast.  They had had 4 of the AWD in stock and 3 of them got sold fast, right away.  People are responding to the AWD availability.

I wish the Camaro had AWD available.  I totally would be ok with an AWD Camaro as a daily driver, v6+AWD would sell well and help keep the Camaro line profitable in order to keep making the big RWD v8's.  Not having that option means it not a daily driver choice for someone like me in winter climes.  The van having AWD available makes it a legit option compared to crossovers for many now, I assume.

 

Edited by regfootball
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On 10/12/2020 at 12:27 PM, regfootball said:

yeah, we've done ok with ours front only, except when the OEM crap Michelins wore out early.  We put Toyo all weather snow rated tires on it for last winter and it improved it.  But to me to provide the buyer a choice and let them decide is the best thing.  The sales guy i worked with for this test drive said another woman had purchased the van i did come in to look at first, she saw it had all wheel drive and jumped on it fast.  They had had 4 of the AWD in stock and 3 of them got sold fast, right away.  People are responding to the AWD availability.

I wish the Camaro had AWD available.  I totally would be ok with an AWD Camaro as a daily driver, v6+AWD would sell well and help keep the Camaro line profitable in order to keep making the big RWD v8's.  Not having that option means it not a daily driver choice for someone like me in winter climes.  The van having AWD available makes it a legit option compared to crossovers for many now, I assume.

 

I would agree with that! Would be fun too....

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These were a random Chrysler "surprise!" and I'm seeing them out & about now too. Good way to sneak in the AWD, and definitely, pricing is not an issue vs. some. In many markets, this may become "THE way" to get one.

Good move, Chrysler. 2020 will be a unique unicorn, as it has the guts, but not the other 2021 updates. Not a bad thing, either way.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Nice outlining of pros and cons, as well as the summary.

Yes to the Pentastar V6.  And it has taken me a very long time to warm up to Mopar and this engine sure has helped.

The other thing that the Pacifica does in terms of styling - that most other similar vehicles don't do - is that it cants the rearmost window back from the C-pillar, whereas almost all car design taper it toward the rear.  While this is a stretch, it's analogous to what the last Olds Alero did with the rear passenger window in its coupe, and was successful with it.  Same goes for the Pacifica.

Here's one I spotted in October (the 14th), as indicated by the plethora of pumpkins behind the vehicle in the supermarket parking lot.  The treatment of the rear side window at the C-pillar can be seen here.

KIMG3833.thumb.JPG.69fc0711b65505afa4ace6257250a203.JPG

 

 

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