A Victory & Reseda review of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle
“What do you know about luxury…huh?”
That is a question that stokes the “hottest fire into the strongest steel.” It also stems from a commercial that appeared 10 years ago re-introducing the Chrysler Sebring as the “new” 200.
Luxury is what the Chrysler brand has always been known for. Go back in history when the vision of Chrysler was attainable luxury and prestige. For example, the Imperial was badged as a Chrysler until 1955. That car was understated in the way it presents itself to wealthy clientele. It also instilled a sense of luxury that guides the Chrysler brand today.
However, some might say that the Chrysler Pacifica does not completely fulfill the brand’s historic image. As of last year, those naysayers have been proven wrong.
With the 2021 Pacifica Pinnacle, luxury is definitely back at Chrysler.
How? Let me walk you through the most luxurious minivan in about a decade.
First of all, the updates to the exterior have a retro feel. If one goes back a couple of decades ago, you might recall the generation of swoopy front ends and rounded bodies that made Chrysler’s minivans stand out. Plenty of those older minivans are still running today.
Therefore, the overall design is relevant. The Pacifica continues to stand out among other minivans – and that one lone “multi-purpose vehicle” that looks like a minivan. Its own set of rounded body shapes, design-breaking window silhouettes, and taillight treatment lets everyone knows that this is a Chrysler Pacifica and nothing else matters when you are around one.
The Pinnacle model steps a few things up a notch. The chrome treatments across and around the minivan gives it a flagship look. The 20-inch chrome wheels also make this minivan pop even more. It just could be the Velvet Red paint job that just oozes luxury from its pores.
Among the three minivans – and one so-called MPV – the Pacifica always had the most compelling design in its class. The Pinnacle just puts add icing on the proverbial cake.
If you’re not convinced that the exterior makes the Pinnacle the top shelf Chrysler Pacifica, you need to open all of its doors. That interior is absolutely elegant! Maybe these words will help you understand what the Pacifica Pinnacle is about: “Quilted caramel Nappa leather.”
You want more words? How about “second-row lumbar support pillows.”
These words translate into one of the most elegant cabin ever created for a minivan in years. It is as close as you will get to one of those executive-level vans that are quite popular among wealthy families across eastern Asia.
Another way to see the Pacifica Pinnacle’s interior is to compare it to Chrysler’s own past. Could this be an homage to the Imperials of the past? Or, a New Yorker Brougham from the mid-to-late 1970s? Maybe it is a replacement for the no-longer-available 300C?
No matter your take on the Pacifica Pinnacle’s elegant cabin, it is truly a special place to be. It looks like it belongs to a Mercedes-Maybach, but it has plenty of familiar Stellantis North America’s touches.
While the driver settles into the cockpit of the Pacifica, your passengers will be treated to a livery-level luxury. UConnect Theater is part of this package, with plenty of connectivity ports for the two screens attached to the first-row seatbacks. There are two wireless headphones and remote controls to operate the screen, as long as the devices they are using are connected to this system.
The second row seats may not recline like they belong to a private jet. They are still Stow N’Go seats that fold into the floor for more cargo space. You could just stow them for passengers to sit in the third row. If the second row seats are up, you have extra underfloor storage for items you want hidden from view.
The pair of lumbar pillows are designed for extra lower back support and comfort. I mistakenly called them “throw pillows,” which I do not recommend throwing them at other passengers. The stuffing is taut, and that leather has a bit of hard surface to them. Sorry, kids.
In all, the leather upholstery is quite special. It added some additional comfort to the front and second-row seats. There is plenty of support and adjustments to make your seats more comfortable. Access to the third row is easy with the sliding mechanism for the second-row seats. There is no console blocking extra access between the third row and the second row sliding doors.
When you get to this level of minivan, you expect to have it equipped with power sliding doors that can be operated hands-free. The liftgate is also hands-free and power opening. I just wish there was a power closure button on the liftgate itself. Your key fob will also do these same operations, as well.
The Pacifica Pinnacle is available in both the regular V6 model and the plug-in Hybrid system. My tester was the former – a 287-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission and a standard all-wheel-drive system. I heralded the return of the all-wheel-drive system to Chrysler’s minivan as a necessary feature for the northern climes (and, sometimes, the southern ones, too). It is a good driveline that makes no excuses for anyone – even the minivan haters. Believe me, there are plenty of them out there spanning three decades now.
If you’re one of those haters, I’ll bet you never drove a Chrysler Pacifica.
It is a solid performer overall. Handles traffic and gets around it quite nicely. However, it returned 23.1 MPG for fuel consumption.
I could go on about the driving dynamics and safety equipment on the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle. The best way to capsulize all of it is simple: This is a luxury minivan. It drives like one.
Yet, the Chrysler Pacifica rides on a great platform that has served Stellantis and all other companies before the merger well. It continues to be innovative, while staying true to its mission as a great family hauler with the most flexible cargo space in the business.
A driver could settle into its quilted leather seats and take command on the highway. They could put the adaptive cruise and let the Pacifica Pinnacle glide across state lines with ease. These are exactly the reasons you want this top-of-the-line minivan – to make yourself and everyone on board comfortable whether you are going on outings which you can attend with eased guidelines or just taking that road trip to see people you haven’t visited in well over a year.
At this point, we should talk pricing. The sticker price for this 2021 Pacifica Pinnacle tester came to $54,885. The only option available that is not on this tester is a towing package for just $995.
This vehicle is as luxurious as you can get in a minivan. It is for the family who needs the space and all of the finer things inside. Even as it did some airport shuttle duty with roommates, neighbors, and friends, the Pacifica Pinnacle came out ahead exhibiting a personality that matched its lumbar pillows, quilted leather upholstery, and flashy trim.
There is something I would like to address here. Around the time I had the other 2021 Chrysler Pacifica, I pondered on the eternal debate over which family conveyance made sense. The idea that large SUVs would do a better job hauling families of six without the guilt of owning a minivan is rather flawed in logic. When those four children start growing and getting older, let’s see how well they fare getting into the third row of that large SUV.
Now, consider another level of comparison: Luxury. If you try to compare pricing of a larger SUV at its top trim level, you will definitely find that the Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle is a great value compared to the likes of the Infiniti QX80, Ford Expedition Platinum (and King Ranch), GMC Yukon XL Denali, and so forth.
In other words, why are you looking at an SUV with all of the bells, whistles, and bling if the Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle is the best value among luxury family conveyances – period!
That is all you need to know about luxury.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Stellantis North America
All photos by Randy Stern