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Exterior view of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD

As minivans have grown larger, and three-row, mid-size crossovers have become ubiquitous, the line between the two segments has gotten blurred. A key selling point to minivans has always been the sliding side doors, while CUVs stand out with their added ride height and available all-wheel drive. There's nothing new about all-wheel-drive minivans, but Chrysler is turning up the heat on its rivals and stealing some thunder from CUVs with the introduction of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD.

Even with the variety of three-row crossovers available today, no vehicle excels at family hauling more than the tried-and-true minivan. With the minivan market hotter than it's been in years, Chrysler has updated the Pacifica for 2021 with a new look. There's also more luxury with the all-new Pinnacle trim level, plus availability of an all-wheel drive system. That's a first for a Chrysler minivan since 2008, and the very first time Chrysler has paired AWD with its innovative Stow 'n Go seating. After recently testing out the Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle, I was able to sample the new AWD system courtesy of this 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD.

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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD

For 2020, Chrysler split its minivan lineup into two models (the low-cost Voyager and the more upscale Pacifica), but other than the name change and different equipment availability, both vans looked identical.

For 2021, that all changes, as the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica gets a new, distinctive style. While the Voyager carries over the same design introduced on the 2017 Pacifica, the 2021 Pacifica receives a modest facelift to keep pace with newer minivan rivals like the Toyota Sienna and Kia Carnival. Up front, the new Pacifica gets a larger grille and narrower, LED-lined headlights, while the rear end was updated with full-width LED taillights.

The 18-inch polished aluminum wheels shown on this tester are standard on the Limited and AWD versions of the Touring and Touring L. These wheels come wrapped in 18-inch Michelin all-season, self-healing tires, and later in the model year, the 2021 Pacifica will also be available with a slightly taller and wider Pirelli P Zero tire. Yup, you read that right, and I'm pretty sure the Pacifica will be the only minivan to offer factory tires that are as road-ready as the Pirelli P Zero.

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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD

To go along with the updated exterior design, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica received a few notable upgrades to keep ahead of the minivan competition. The biggest change is the larger 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 infotainment system that is standard on all Pacifica models, which includes a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot and wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also a new full-length center console offering more storage capability, as well as the FamCam feature that places a fish-eye camera in the rear to display rear passengers on the front touchscreen. This overhead camera makes it easy to keep an eye on the kids in the back seats, and it even has a zoom function to keep a closer eye on any trouble makers!

On the Limited trim, FamCam is a part of the $2,495 Uconnect Theater Family Group that also includes dual 10.1-inch seatback screens, a BluRay/DVD player, HDMI inputs, and 12 USB ports. All types of media sounded great thanks to the optional 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system that was included with the $1,895 Premium and Safety Sphere Group.

Since minivans are designed primarily as family haulers, that's exactly what the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica does best. With three rows of seating and standard Stow 'n Go second and third rows, the Pacifica has plenty of room to balance passengers and cargo. The Limited offers a seven-passenger seating capacity thanks to second-row captain's chairs, and there's generous space in all three rows. Surprisingly, there's almost as much third-row space there is in a full-size Chevrolet Suburban! That means there's no more bickering about who's touching who. To maximize cargo space, the Stow 'n Go seats quickly and easily fold out of the way opening up a max cargo volume of 140.5 cubic feet.

The whole point of buying a minivan is to maximize space and comfort, but that doesn't mean you can't have style, too. This Pacifica Limited tester looked like a luxury vehicle with its two-tone deep mocha and black color palette and tri-pane panoramic sunroof, and it had the luxury feel to back up its look with standard nappa leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats and hands-free power sliding doors and liftgate. The coolest feature found inside the Pacifica Limited is the Stow 'n Vac vacuum system. This nifty feature is standard on Limited, and it is stored just behind the second row making it easy to clean up messes through the van. My daughter's climbing chalk spilled all over the black carpet, and the Stow 'n Vac cleaned it all up in one pass.

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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is powered by Chrysler's award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 which  produces 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The new-for-2021 all-wheel-drive system comes standard on the Limited and Pinnacle trim levels, and it's optional on the Touring and Touring L. Notably, AWD is not available on the Pacifica Hybrid or Voyager. As expected, the AWD system does sacrifice some efficiency with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates. AWD models scored 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, compared to 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the FWD model.

Now, the Pacifica isn't the only AWD minivan on the market, but Chrysler says it's the only one that can send all available engine torque to the rear wheels for maximum traction. What does this mean for buyers? Better traction in just about all weather conditions. During our time with the Pacifica, I encountered heavy rain and slick roads, and the AWD system worked flawlessly (and seamlessly) to maintain traction. Opting for the AWD model does add 360 pounds to the Pacifica's curb weight, but it doesn't affect fuel tank capacity (19 gallons) or towing capacity (3,600 pounds). Finally, not that it's an SUV, but the Pacifica AWD does get an extra 0.3 inches of ground clearance. Regardless of road conditions, the Pacifica AWD exhibits a smooth, quiet ride.

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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica (and Chrysler Voyager) received a 5-Star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Standard safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Parking Sensors. This tester was also equipped with the Premium and Safety Sphere Group, which added a 360-degree Surround-View Camera, Parallel and Perpendicular Parking Assist, and Front Park Assist with Automatic Braking.

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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD

Minivans might not grab headlines like Chrysler's growing lineup of Hellcat-powered vehicles, but the updated 2021 Chrysler Pacifica will be a huge hit for anyone looking for a safe, spacious and tech-filled family hauler. The updated styling, improved cabin tech and the addition of standard AWD on the top two trim levels should be enough for Chrysler to continue its minivan dominance.

Thanks to the newly added Voyager model, Chrysler still has the lowest-priced minivan, with that entry-level van priced starting at just $26,985. But for more content and luxury, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica starts at $35,495. The Limited trim level starts at $48,490, while the optioned-up Pacifica used for my review had an as-tested price of $54,375.

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Jeffrey N. Ross | May 28, 2021

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD Specs


4-door, 7-passenger, AWD


3.6L V6, 287 hp, 262 lb-ft
Nine-speed automatic


17/25 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating


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