So...After 20+ years of driving Jeeps and trucks, we went an entirely different way this time.
We leased this 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited on Thusday. It should serve us well for day-to-day use and for road trips.
Up until a month or so ago, I had never even thought about a minivan for us. Then, while waiting for service on the Jeep one day, I saw this on the sales floor at the local Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge dealer. The interior roominess was amazing. The different possible seating arrangements seemed to make it a very versatile vehicle. It got me thinking that it just might work for us.
We still had about 6 months left on our Jeep lease but I filed the idea away as a possible future consideration.
A few days later, we got a call from the dealership inviting us to come in and discuss end of lease options for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. I mentioned to Georgia that we might want to consider a minivan this time. She wasn't sold on the idea but she did do some online research. She was open to at least considering it.
We took a drive to the dealership so Georgia could look for herself. She was mostly sold after the visit and a test drive but had a couple concerns.
Why would a couple in their late 60's even think about a minivan? Aren't they for families with young children?
Actually, there were several reasons that a more versatile vehicle might be right for us.
First, there is a lot of space in a minivan. The Jeep worked OK for hauling groceries or a few suitcases. With Georgia's small mobility scooter in the back though, space was a little tight. Some creative loading was required for a long trip.
Seating was another consideration. With Max's booster seat taking up one spot, we could barely squeeze two more passengers in the back.
Comfort was another point. The Jeep's ride is, well Jeep like. You definitely feel the road and it can be hard on the back at times.
Still, a minivan? At our Age? Actually, when we thought about it, we realized that a very high percentage of friends our own age did own minivans and loved them.
It was time to do some more serious research.
We turned to the Internet to learn all we could about minivans in general and the Pacifica in particular.
It seems that a lot of people of all ages are like us. They came to minivans reluctantly but, once they had one, they really liked it a lot.
Our choice came down to considering the pros and cons and making our own decision.
I already mentioned some of the pros. Comfort and space were big ones but there were other pluses.
The three zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats and 8 way driver and passenger seats are great. Also a lot of cup holders and cubby holes to stash stuff are nice to have.
The space is made more versatile because of the Stow 'N Go seats. The Pacifica stands out in this area. Other vans let you remove the second row seats for more space but only Pacifica lets you fold them into the floor. We can fold them all down to hold everything we want to take on a road trip then, when we get to out destination, we can unpack, open the seats and carry seven passengers with us. No seats left sitting useless at home.
Oh, and there is a built in vacuum cleaner to clean up after that trip!
The Pacifica is an IIHS top safety pick. 5 Star rating! In addition, the Chrysler Advanced SaftyTech package includes a lot of tools to protect us on the road. Lane Sense, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with braking, 360 degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular parking assistance (auto park) and more.
I think the technology in new cars is going to help older drivers stay on the road longer and be safer. Let's face it. In our 60's, our reaction time and vision aren't what they were in our 30's. A little extra help can't hurt.
The Infotainment system is an updated version of the Uconnect system we had in the Jeep but with two second row seat video screens. Max will love that feature. Other things we like about it are SiriusXM radio, navigation with traffic monitoring, mobile phone interconnect, Apple CarPlay and a host of settings to customize the in car experience.
Performance should be good with the 3.6L V6 at 287 HP and the nine speed transmission. Mileage is touted as very good too. 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. We will see.
What about the cons. There must be a few.
One big one that almost stopped us from buying is the lack of all wheel or four wheel drive, The Pacifica comes in front wheel drive only. After years of Jeeps, we had serious reservations about this one. In our online research, we didn't find any real complaints about handling so it must be working fine for others. Besides, I am retired now. I don't HAVE to go out when the weather stinks. We will find out how this works out for us but I am hopeful.
Another issue is that there is no spare tire in the Pacifica we bought. That worries us because we go places, like Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, where roadside service is scarce. The vehicle did come with a tire repair kit that includes a tire repair foam canister and an air compressor. Not the same as a spare! This is still a concern for us but maybe we can come up with a solution. A compact spare we can throw in the back for road trips?