2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD
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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD Review

With a midlife makeover inside and out, and Canada-friendly AWD, the Windsor, Ontario-built Chrysler Pacifica makes a fresh bid for top spot in the minivan market.

Key Features:

  • AWD for all-weather traction
  • High-end interior
  • Sleek exterior design

Direct Competitors:

  • Toyota Sienna AWD
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Kia Carnival

As part of a midlife refresh in 2021, Chrysler’s sleek Pacifica minivan gets new front and rear sheet metal, interior enhancements and the option of AWD for the first time. It all helps the Pacifica take the fight to Toyota’s brand-new, all-hybrid, 2021 Sienna.

If you’re shopping for a used minivan, check out our current inventory here.

Price: how much more expensive is the all-wheel drive Pacifica model?

  • Pacifica Touring AWD $48,295
  • Pacifica Touring-L AWD $51,295
  • Pacifica Touring-L Plus AWD $53,795
  • Pacifica Limited AWD $59,795
  • Pacifica Pinnacle AWD $65,795 (as tested here)

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD | Photo: Chrysler 

AWD Pacificas carry a $3,500 price premium over the equivalent FWD models. All are gas-powered – the AWD system won’t package with the Pacifica Hybrid PHEV’s underfloor battery – by a 3.6-litre Pentastar engine that makes 287 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque. 

MSRPs range from $48,295 for the entry-level Touring AWD spec to $65,795 for the Pinnacle AWD, as tested here, which is almost $6,000 more than the FWD Pinnacle Hybrid PHEV.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD interior and equipment

All Pacifica AWDs boast LED headlamps and fog lamps; a new Uconnect 5 infotainment system with 10.1in, high-definition touchscreen; USB Type C ports; a new, soft-touch instrument panel; second-row sunshades; signature Stow ’n Go seating; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; and three-zone temperature controls.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD | Photo: Chrysler 

Each higher grade adds more equipment. Highlights include the Touring-L’s more sophisticated driver-assistance systems and heated and powered leather seats; a ‘Super’ console and TomTom navigation on the Touring-L Plus; and ‘Premium’ console, wireless charging and a tri-pane sunroof for the Limited.

Range-topping Pinnacle trim ramps up the luxury

Our Pinnacle ratchets up the luxury still further with high-end cabin materials, Chrysler-embossed lumbar pillows, an exclusive ‘Ultra’ console that flows into the dashboard, 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio, FamCAM interior camera, vacuum cleaner and additional driver-assistance tech.

Minivans are all about the interior experience and here the Pinnacle pulls out all the stops. The two-tier Ultra front console in particular fixes a bugbear of earlier Pacificas, namely a hard-to-reach floor bin ahead of the armrest that was not high-sided enough to keep larger items from potentially falling into the pedals. Here the storage area is up by a third and the rear pull-out drawer is easier for second-row passengers to access.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD | Photo: Chrysler 

“Living room on wheels”

The faster Uconnect 5 and USB-C sockets bring the connectivity up to date while the rear-seat Uconnect Theatre screens get new apps such as chess to keep the kids entertained. By contrast the revised instrument binnacle feels like a rare misstep, with additional graduations on the dials that make them harder to read.

There’s seating for seven in the Pinnacle, with two heated captain’s chairs in the second row. The Nappa leather trim is comfortable even if the caramel colour might not be to everyone’s taste. The loose lumbar cushions look premium but it’s hard to see them being used on every trip. 

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD | Photo: Chrysler 

Make no mistake though, for all its positioning as a “living room on wheels”, the Pacifica interior here in the Pinnacle remains as well thought-out, comfortable, quiet and highly usable as it does in lesser grades. Nor does the AWD installation compromise its practicality.

Performance & fuel economy

The Pentastar V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission provide adequate power even for a fully loaded van. The Pinnacle AWD drives much the same as any other Pacifica but uses around 14% more fuel than the FWD model and twice the fuel of the hybrid-only Sienna AWD. 

We scored an average of 11.5L/100km in a week of mostly city driving, which is better than the official combined figure of 14.1L/100km.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD | Photo: Chrysler 

The Pacifica AWD is quiet at speed and easy to drive around town. It is not a serious off-roader but gains a handy 20mm of additional ride height over the FWD car. Combined with AWD traction, that should help it to dig itself out of the snow in winter.

Verdict: is the Pacifica Pinnacle AWD minivan worth it?

The absence of AWD is one reason why Canadian minivan buyers have increasingly turned to SUVs in recent years. You won’t find an SUV that matches a van for space and outright practicality though, so Chrysler’s introduction of AWD provides buyers both with reassurance in winter conditions and a strong rival to the Toyota Sienna AWD. 

As for the Pinnacle grade, if you like luxury but need a van, there’s really nothing else like it.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD | Photo: Chrysler 

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