2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Review: First Drive

2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Review first drive
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is available with all-wheel-drive again. FCA

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica all-wheel-drive models are finally back, and they include the Stow 'n Go seating that owners love. We recently tested the 2021 Pacifica with AWD and the plug-in hybrid Pacifica in wet conditions and came away impressed with this offering.

In addition to AWD's return, the new Pacifica brings a redesigned exterior with a new front and headlight design and a rear brake light shape that is more in line with the Charger. Inside we see high-end interior options and an excellent infotainment system with support for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Starting at $35,045 for the base model and $38,040 for the all-wheel-drive model, you can option this on any of the gas-powered Pacifica trims. The top of the line Pinnacle offers a plush interior and even includes matching pillows in the second row. The premium style comes with a premium cost, with a starting price of $53,390.

Here's what you need to know about the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica all-wheel-drive minivan.

What's It Like to Drive the 2021 Pacifica AWD?

2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Review first drive
The all-wheel-drive system in the 2021 Pacifica proved competent on wet and windy roads during our first drive. FCA

We tested the 2021 Pacifica AWD minivan on wet and winding roads, which allowed us to feel the all-wheel-drive system's benefits.

While primarily a front-wheel-drive minivan, Chrysler's all-wheel-drive Pacifica intelligently sends power to the rear wheels when the wipers are on or when you turn the wheel sharply or when it senses a slippery road.

As the driver, you don't need to make any adjustments to get this system's benefits.

Our drive route took us through small towns and then winding country roads with plenty of elevation changes. We felt very confident behind the wheel and through the turns despite slippery conditions. While we couldn't test it in snow, this all-wheel-drive setup is an excellent upgrade for drivers in the midwest and snowy climates.

The all-wheel-drive system can send all of the power to the rear wheels or whichever wheels have the most traction available.

Chrysler uses the 3.6L Pentastar V6, which is the same as we see in much of the FCA lineup. It is the only engine option, and it is plenty powerful for this minivan. While we didn't test it, the Pacifica can tow up to 3,600 pounds.

The main competition here is the Toyota Sienna, which is also available with all-wheel-drive, but it is also going up against large SUVs.

Overall, drive quality is good with a comfortable but agile ride quality and easy maneuverability. The gas-powered Pacifica is quiet inside, and while driving the hybrid model, it's even quieter when running on battery power.

The 2021 Pacifica gas AWD is rated at 25 mpg highway and 17 mpg city. The Hybrid Pacifica is only available in front-wheel-drive, and it is rated at 80 mpg equivalent with a total range of 510 miles. The all-electric driving range is 32 miles.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Interior

2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Review first drive
On the top of the line Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle, the interior features diamond stitched seats and matching pillows for the back seat. FCA

The interior of the 2021 Pacifica is clean and modern. The redesigned front section offers more usable storage in the center console. We like the looks of this change and the under-console pass-through storage and the built-in wireless charger.

The interior quality is ramped up with beautiful diamond stitching and wood accents that carry over through the entire minivan on the Pacifica Pinnacle. There are even two matching pillows for the second row for lumbar support or napping kids.

One of the reasons that all-wheel-drive is such a big deal is that the Pacifica still includes Stow 'n Go seating with this option. This allows users to easily drop all the rear seats into the floor to increase the cargo space dramatically.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Tech

2021 Chrysler Pacifica tech
The Uconnect 5 system includes a great looking screen that is responsive and support for wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. Chrysler

The big story inside is Uconnect 5, a new infotainment system that offers everything connected drivers are looking for on a big 10.1-inch screen. The system is powered by Android and features a higher resolution. The screen looks fantastic, and the touchscreen is very responsive.

One feature that we love is support for Wireless Apple CarPlay. This allows us to leave the phone in our pocket or set it on the wireless charger and still use all the CarPlay features on the infotainment screen. The Pacifica also supports wireless Android Auto. There is a 4G LTE hot spot available, and Alexa is built-in, allowing you to use the assistant to control music and other tasks.

The built-in navigation system is excellent, routing us around traffic on the highway. This is great news as many in-car navigation systems can't compete with the apps that are available when you plug your phone in.

The 2021 Pacifica features many connectivity options for charging, including USB and USB C connections throughout the cabin.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD Review first drive
The FamCAM feature lets you see your kids while driving, even in a rear-facing child seat. FCA

With the FamCAM, you can see the interior of the Pacifica on the infotainment screen. This is great if you need to keep an eye on kids, and you can even see a rear-facing car sear without relying on mirrors.

We like the Uconnect Theater option that adds two 10-inch HD screens for the second row. This system includes a Blu-ray player, two HDMI ports for connecting consoles or other devices, and built-in games.

Chrysler Provided transportation and lodging to test the vehicle. Opinions are our own.