IF YOU HAVE KIDS (emphasis on the plural), as the second child begins to crawl and the stuff she needs merely to survive, let alone be happy, on a trip to the grandparents seems to require its own set of luggage—which your firstborn already has… you should have anticipated this—you come to a realization: What did I get myself into? Followed by: Man, do I really need a minivan? And then, finally, when the existential despair sinks in like a Go-Gurt stain: me.
Other options exist, of course. The S UV can do the job for many a family, and you can feel better about your new state of domesticity under the shield of a car that was intended to do rough-and-tumble things beyond your Costco run. But that seems to be a bigger cliche than the minivan parent these days. Our hang-ups about minivans are really hang-ups about being perceived as a “family man” or a parent who cares about his children— and that’s not really progressive, is it? What does move things forward is the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Not through faux-SUV styling but by being pleasantly, surprisingly refined.
There’s the panoramic moonroof. The lie-flat, stowaway seats. The noise-canceling speakers. The adaptable cruise control. The built-in vacuum cleaner. In coming months, there will even be a plug-in hybrid version with an estimated 30-mile all-electric range.
Will the Pacifica abolish minivan shaming? The ability to modify the societal insecurities of dedicated parents is a lot to ask of a car.
But it sets an example by fully embracing what it is, no justification necessary. Although the V-6, when it needs to, can show off a surprising bit of tire-squelching giddyap just in case you need to be reminded: This is fun.