2017 Chrysler Pacifica reinvents the minivan with an old name

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The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is reinventing the minivan while borrowing the name of an old SUV.

Chrysler reinvented the minivan this year, and recycled a name from the past: Pacifica.

That name was used on an SUV from 2004 to 2008, but the new Pacifica was the outgrowth of 30-plus years of minivans by Chrysler.

It all started back in 1984 when Chrysler introduced American families to a new kind of vehicle. It was useful like a traditional van, but easier to drive and park.

In truth, minivans have had a tough go in recent years, with fewer families choosing them. Amid a recent SUV sales boom, Chrysler rolled the dice that many buyers still want a competent van.

Formidable minivan competition came from Honda's Odyssey, which has been a strong player in recent years, and the Toyota Sienna, which has been streamlined from its previous shape.

Kia also got back into the market recently with a completely new Sedona minivan.

One interesting new feature available on upper trim levels of the Pacifica is rear seat entertainment for children in the form of built-in apps.

There are several games to keep young minds occupied, including one that's actually called "Are We There Yet?" in which kids can track the progress to grandma's house without bothering mom or dad.

Honda got a lot of attention when it started offering an optional built-in vacuum in the back of its Odyssey minivan a couple of years ago. Young minivan passengers tend to drop, track and spill many things onto the carpet and seats.

The new Pacifica offers a vacuum too. Chrysler said it's located toward the center of the van for easier use. The long hose extends out of the side panel between the second and third rows of seats and can reach anywhere in the van to clean up dirt and crumbs.

There are other available features on the Pacifica as well, like 360-degree exterior cameras and a self-parking function.

Later this year, a plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica will offer electric-only driving for up to 30 miles.

Minivans have seen their market share shrink in recent years, but Chrysler is determined to show that the ultimate family ride is here to stay, and that it's more ready for duty than ever.
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