The idea of a luxury minivan seems like a weird one but when you look closely, it makes a lot of sense. In Asia, minivans are the preferred transportation for executives. Brands like Kia have special VIP versions of the new Carnival complete with anti-paparazzi curtains. Toyota has the Vellfire and Alphard, two minivans so luxuriously appointed you’d swear they were meant for celebrities. Even Lexus has the LM in certain Asian markets to cater to the chauffeur demographic.
In the U.S. the four brands left in the minivan segment have started to offer upscale versions. Chrysler was one of the first with the Pacifica Pinnacle, which is also available in hybrid guise. The question you, dear reader, may have is if this version is worth it. Does the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle justify its $52,340 price tag? Oh yeah. Especially in hybrid form, which also happens to be one of the best minivans available.
Quite possibly the biggest highlight of the Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle is the interior. Every row is covered in Caramel Nappa leather upholstery complete with diamond stitching, giving it an upscale feel. Further adding to the experience are lumbar pillows in the middle row, which are also done up in diamond quilting, Nappa leather, and dark brown contrast stitching. The rest of the interior exudes a premium ambience because nearly everything you touch is either super soft plastic or thickly padded.
You don’t lose any of the Pacifica’s flexibility, either. The third row still folds into a tub and there’s an endless amount of small storage spaces for mobile devices and small objects. Although the battery takes up the space where the second-row would stow on the non-hybrid variants, you can still remove the middle seats when you need to haul big, bulky items.
Further adding to the experience is the interior’s quietness and the comfortable ride. On the highway, you don’t get much noise save for small hints of wind buffeting and minor road noise on broken pavement. It’s like you’re in a luxuriously appointed lounge separated from the world by generous levels of sound insulation.
The suspension absorbs harsh impacts beautifully, keeping them out of the passenger cabin. You still know you’ve gone over a pothole, bump, or expansion joint; you just don’t feel them much. Credit the standard 18-inch alloy wheels, which have more sidewall that provides extra compliance. Through turns, the Pacifica Hybrid stays planted and doesn’t wallow everywhere, preventing your passengers from sliding around. Respectably quick yet accurate steering help, too, because that helps the driver know what the front wheels are doing and where the car is going.
One of the aspects that makes the Pacifica Pinnacle feel so luxurious is the plug-in hybrid powertrain. This couples a 3.6-liter V6 with a 16.0-kWh lithium-ion battery, an electric motor, and an electronically-controlled CVT. The total system output is 260 hp. During most driving situations, the Pacifica Hybrid operates in EV mode until the battery is depleted. That means the car doesn’t make much noise on the road. When the gas engine does kick in, it doesn’t cause a racket, preserving the Pacifica’s calm demeanor. When you put your foot down on the accelerator you get smooth, even power delivery since the powertrain doesn’t have a traditional transmission.
Uconnect 5, the latest version of Stellantis’ user interface, also adds to the overall experience because of its user-friendliness and ability to keep your passengers entertained. The rear-seat entertainment system features cool games and enables you to stream movies and connect mobile devices. Should your passengers want to keep their devices charged, there’s no shortage of charging ports either with a total of 11 USB-A and USB-C plugs.
For the driver, the main UConnect 5 UI on the dash is a cinch to use. The 10.1-inch touch screen is responsive and has one of the simplest layouts on the market. You don’t need to dig through submenus even because everything is no more than two taps away. The available 19-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system offers a fantastically crisp listening experience and immerses the entire cabin in rich tunes.
As a whole, the Pacifica Pinnacle gives you a proper luxury minivan experience. From the swanky cabin appointments to the comfortable road manners, the most expensive Pacifica is like a land-going executive jet. The hybrid powertrain only amplifies that sensation because of how smoothly and quietly it operates. For families who aren’t opposed to bucking the crossover craze and need space, comfort, and flexibility, this minivan has all that and then some.