2017 Chrysler Pacifica fuel economy review

They say you never really forget how to ride a bike, but if you're Chrysler, you may temporarily forget how to build a minivan.

That's just what happened for the company that invented the multi-purpose vehicle more than 30 years ago. 

Its last generation of Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans were, frankly, subpar.

DON'T MISS: Chrysler pares its lineup to focus on crossovers, vans

After 25 years of dominating the minivan segment, Chrysler in 2008 effectively gave it away to Honda when those below-average vehicles hit dealer lots. 

One bankruptcy and government-backed restructuring later, several owners, and quite a few executives later, the Chrysler of today (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is nothing like it was in the fall of 2007.

And, it turns out, neither is its minivan.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

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We were skeptical when Chrysler decided to abandon its existing two-tier minivan strategy and focus on just a single, all-new model

For 20 years, the Town & Country had been the high end model, while the Grand Caravan was for the mainstream.

Not only that, the new minivan was to be sold under the revived Chrysler Pacifica nameplate.

ALSO SEE: Chrysler CEO not a big fan of EVs

The last Pacifica, a portly, wagon-y, crossover-y vehicle, wasn't a huge hit.

After just a block behind the wheel of the new one, it is safe to say that Chrysler has its minivan mojo back.

The new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica really is that good. 

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

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And that's even before its plug-in hybrid version, with a projected 30 miles of all-electric range, hits showrooms late this year or early in 2017.

For starters, the Pacifica shares very little with its predecessors other than a 3.6-liter V-6 engine—which was, let's be honest, one of the few good things about the old vans.

Now, that 287-horsepower engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels exclusively.

The Pacifica doesn't topple the Honda Odyssey as the segment's fuel-economy champ, but it comes very, very close at 22 mpg combined (18 mpg city, 28 highway).

That compares to 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city, 28 highway) for Honda's long-running minivan.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

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In our test car, over about 220 miles of largely highway driving, the trip computer displayed 28 mpg, matching the EPA estimate.

A reset of the computer before a couple of days of urban stop-and-go slogging saw the number drop to 17 mpg, still a respectable figure for a van that can haul seven passengers in comfort.

Thus far, Chrysler hasn't said much at all about the fuel economy or energy efficiency of the plug-in hybrid version—which will be known just as the Pacifica Hybrid.

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