Initially designed in 1999 as a concept vehicle called the Citadel9, the Chrysler Pacifica has definitely gone through a series of changes throughout the years, including a transition from concept to crossover SUV and then to a minivan. Created by DaimlerChrysler under the Chrysler marque in 1999 as a “merger of equals”, it took only 30 months to develop for less than $1 billion. The 1999 Pacifica concept was built not only to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Chrysler Minivan, but it was also intended to be a more upscale version of the Town & Country. It wasn’t until 2002, that the first production model of the Chrysler Pacifica was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show.
Chrysler Citadel Concept (1999)
Before hybrids became a “thing,” Chrysler released the 1999 Chrysler Citadel Concept vehicle. The Chrysler Citadel Concept vehicle was pretty incredible. It featured a front fascia and a raised roof that included a skylight and overhead storage bins. Additionally, it could seat up to six passengers, with four front and rear captain’s chairs and a foldout jump seat on each of the rear seats. The 2nd-row seat featured power footrests and a golf bag rack in the trunk space that could hold up to four golf bags. A 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine powered the concept vehicle’s rear wheels. Along with the gasoline engine, the Citadel Concept vehicle also had an electric motor that powered the front wheels. The Chrysler Citadel generated 253 horsepower, but once the electric motor was put in place, it added about 70 units of horsepower – this was the similar performance of a V8 vehicle. Lastly, the interior cabin was spacious and featured a dual-power sliding rear door and a back power gate.
Chrysler Pacifica Crossover SUV (2004 – 2008)
The Chrysler Pacifica crossover was originally built with just one trim level in 2004. At first, the Pacifica’s standard engine was a 3.5-liter V6 that put out 250 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. However, it received quite a number of negative reviews, mainly due to the lack of engine power in comparison to the weight of the crossover SUV. In 2005, the Pacifica expanded into four trim levels – Base, Touring, Limited, a special-edition Signature Series; in 2008, a fifth trim, the LX, was introduced. The 3.5-liter engine was standard on all trim levels excluding the base trim, that was powered by a 3.8-liter V6 engine. However, the 3.8-liter engine was eliminated for the 2006 model year. In 2007, the 3.8-liter engine made a comeback as the standard engine in the base front-wheel-drive model and was also accompanied by the all-new 4.0-liter SOHC V6 engine added to the lineup. The 4.0-liter engine served as a replacement for the 3.5-liter V6 in all other models and could output 255 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. Additionally, the 4.0-liter engine was paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission and the base engine continued with its four-speed automatic transmission.
The interior cabin was equipped with luxurious standard features, some of which were unnecessary and expensive, like a navigation system, DVD entertainment system, and a suspension load-leveling kit. Luckily for consumers, the additional trim levels were added to bring the cost down on the base model. After its 2004 release, the Chrysler Pacifica included standard third-row seating, eight-way power driver seat and four-way power passenger seats on all models. All Pacifica models came with AM/FM radio, a CD player, a seven-speaker, 200-watt infinity audio system, dual-zone manual temperature control, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, and numerous safety features. The more expensive trim levels came with a complimentary subscription to SiriusXM radio, a 6-disc DVD player with MP3, DVD audio, DVD video, and DVD-RW disc capabilities. An available eight-speaker 385-watt infinity “intermezzo” audio system with subwoofer was also included.
Unfortunately, on November 1st, 2007, Chrysler announced the discontinuation of the Pacifica crossover, likely due to poor mechanical reliability, lack of fuel efficiency, and low sales numbers. It also didn’t help that Chrysler was rather slow in correcting these issues. The last Pacifica rolled off the assembly line on November 23rd, 2007.
Chrysler Pacifica + Pacifica Hybrid (2016 – Present)
In June 2013, it was rumored that Chrysler was preparing to develop a new generation of their Town & Country minivan and the only hint given by an industry analyst was that this new version would potentially be a crossover utility vehicle within the realm of the Pacifica crossover SUV. On January 11th, 2016 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the minivan was finally unveiled. But it wasn’t named Town & Country like most people assumed – it was named the “Chrysler Pacifica”. It was also when FCA announced their plans to discontinue the Town & Country and revive the Pacifica name. The name change was a gamble due to the Town & Country name helping Chrysler retain its position as the king of minivans for nearly a quarter century.
“Sure, it is absolutely risky to change the name, but that’s how confident we are,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat. “We wanted to change the name so that you think, ‘this is new, this is fresh, I need to check this out and forget the perception that I had about the previous minivan.”
In 2015, according to the Detroit Free Press, the late Fiat Chrysler Automobiles the late CEO, Sergio Marchionne, announced that he would invest $2 billion in developing a new minivan while overhauling the Windsor Assembly Plant to facilitate its production. This process was kept very much under wraps, so much so that after the FCA filed to renew its trademark registration on the Pacifica brand, FCA’s Head of Passenger Car Brands, Timothy Kuniskis, denied that this was related to any new products, and that it was standard industry practice to continue renewing its trademarks because “…you don’t want to lose names. Establishing new names is expensive.” Nevertheless, at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid was also debuted alongside its sibling, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.
The Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid have completely reinvented how the public views minivans and has possibly reinvented the Chrysler brand. The Chrysler Pacifica is equipped with an enhanced 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar engine that produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid uses a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery with an all-electric range of 33 miles, and the battery can fully charge in just two hours using a 240-volt plug-in system. Once the battery’s energy begins to deplete, the Pacifica Hybrid turns into a part-time electric vehicle. The EPA can reach up to 84 MPGe when running in electric-only mode and 27 mpg once in regular hybrid mode. Additionally, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has a total driving range of 566 miles – perfect for those long road trips.
From the Chrysler Pacifica crossover SUV to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid minivan, Chrysler definitely has a great way of reinventing their brand. Prior to the sudden death of former FCA CEO, Sergio Marchionne, a five-year plan was put in place to completely electrify the FCA lineup by 2022. We can only hope that even in death, his electrified plan will come to life. Stop by the Miami Lakes Auto Mall today, located in Miami Lakes, FL, to test drive the new 2019 Chrysler Pacifica or the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. For more information on our entire new car inventory selection, visit our website or follow us on social media!