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First generation Chrysler Pacifica

The Chrysler brand has always been associated with the concept of luxury, but a close look at Chrysler’s lineup over the years shows that the brand has not just tried to improve on the designs of other automakers, but has also consistently tried to create new, innovative designs to meet the complex needs of drivers. Does it hurt that those vehicles have also looked and felt like luxury? Absolutely not. The Chrysler Pacifica, which has changed shape dramatically over the years, is one example of Chrysler’s willingness to try new things. Here is how the Pacifica has transformed over the years.

1999: A New Concept

When the Chrysler Pacifica was first conceptualized in 1999, the idea of a luxury minivan, despite the minivan’s popularity among American families, had remained elusive for automakers. The Pacifica was originally designed to fill this void, even if it did not make it to production before undergoing a complete transformation five years later.

What made the original design stand out? Think of a minivan with extra room for storage, a moon roof, and comforts like powered footrests that were largely unseen at the time. A powerful 3.5-liter engine completed the package. So, why did such a design fail to make it to production? Demand for a luxury minivan simply did not exist in 1999. Analysts generally agree that those drivers targeted by the original design were not sufficiently captured by its comforts to take on the added costs.


2004-2008: Entering the Market

When the Pacifica was reintroduced, the crossover SUV was more popular than it had ever been. Recognizing this trend, Chrysler remolded the Pacifica in order to enter the crossover market while keeping many of the perks that distinguished the original concept from other minivans available at the time.

For one, a standard feature of the Pacifica crossover was three rows of seating. Entertainment packages were also included to make the Pacifica stand out from the myriad of options that were available. Think of multiple screens, DVD players, and powerful, high performance speakers.

In addition, the engine used in the crossover became more powerful over time, as a result of luxury drivers’ desire for fast, responsive vehicles. Speed and responsiveness would become a major planning concern for automakers, as it was difficult at that time to create affordable, high-powered engines that would meet new emissions standards and carry the weight of a significantly heavier crossover.

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Second generation Chrysler Pacifica


2017: Return to a Concept

The reign of the first Chrysler Pacifica to go to production would end in 2008 as the perfect combination of an economic recession, low sales, and issues with long-term reliability would plague the crossover. However, the model would return to its conceptual roots in 2017 as a luxury minivan, which when compared with the 1999 concept reflects many of the market changes of the last two decades.

While providing all of the comfort and luxury options a driver could ask for, especially in the higher trim levels, the newest edition of the Pacifica also manages to present a sportier, more angular design that would allow it to compete with vehicles like the Subaru Ascent and Honda Pilot that also boast three rows of seating, though not as comfortably as the Pacifica. Analysts agree that the crossover market is the most sought-after battleground in 2019, and it has yet to be determined which automaker will come to dominate.

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Third generation Chrysler Pacifica

That the Chrysler Pacific comes in a hybrid model is just another indication of the automaker’s philosophy. When entering new market segments, Chrysler will often produce vehicles that, while mimicking the successful features of those of its competitors, offer new kinds of packages and combinations to peak drivers’ interests. In the case of the Pacifica, the brand has found its success.

Categories: History