Does all-wheel drive or plug-in hybrid get the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica on your minivan wish list?

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle with all-wheel drive (AWD)

by Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica different?

Probably nothing more than a new color or two as this stylish minivan capitalizes on major updates made for model-year 2021. It’ll carry over revised styling, newly standard safety features, and available all-wheel drive (AWD) as counterpunches to strengthened competition from Honda and Toyota.

The 2022 Pacifica will again be the only minivan available as a plug-in hybrid, enabling it to travel 32 miles on electricity before reverting to gas power. It’ll also remain the only minivan to match the Toyota Sienna with available AWD. Accommodations for seven or eight passengers with class-exclusive fold-into-the-floor seats will return, as will the ultra-luxury Pinnacle model with quilted Nappa leather upholstery and suede lumbar pillows. Chrysler wisely made its full suite of safety tech standard on all Pacificas for ’21. And it enlarged every model’s infotainment touchscreen 20 percent, to a generous 10.1 inches.

Those and other updates were the first changes to the Pacifica since its model-year 2017 introduction as a replacement for the venerable Chrysler Town & Country. They should see it through with few alterations until its next full redesign, likely for model-year 2024 or ‘25.

Should I wait for the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica or buy a 2021?

2021 Chrysler Pinnacle (left) and 2021 Pacifica Limited with the S Appearance Package

Buy a ’21. The ’22 Pacifica is unlikely to change in any way worth waiting for so Chrysler will almost certainly charge more for essentially the same minivan. Plus, Covd-19-related discounts that might be in effect for the ’21 model may not be around once the ’22 rolls out. 

If you’re on a budget, an alternative to a ’21 or ’22 Pacifica might be the Chrysler Voyager. It’s basically a Pacifica with seating for seven and fewer amenities. It isn’t available with AWD or as a hybrid. But it starts around $29,000, some $8,000 below the entry-level Pacifica. If you’re inclined to hold off any Chrysler minivan purchase – and are intrigued by all-electric propulsion — you might want to wait for a new people-mover previewed by the automaker. Smaller than the Pacifica and tentatively badged the Portal, it would offer gas and pure-electric powertrains, the latter with a range of some 250 miles. Best guess on a release date is late calendar 2021 or early ‘22.

Expect the 2022 Pacifica to repeat the model-year 2021 lineup: Touring, Touring L, Limited, and Pinnacle. All would be available in gas-only form with front- or all-wheel drive and seating for up to eight, and in hybrid guise with front-wheel drive and seating for seven.

Will 2022 Chrysler Pacifica styling be different?

2021 Pacifica

There could be a new appearance package, but the ’22 Pacifica will otherwise carry over the subtle changes that came with the model-year-2021 refresh. Seeking what it called a “utility-vehicle look,” Chrysler enlarged the grille and made the front fascia more prominent. It gave every model thin LED headlamps and in back, graceful new LED taillamps bridged by an elegant LED bar. Body sides and dimensions were unchanged.

Trim-level differentiators should again run to details such as platinum chrome-finished mirrors for the Limited and Pinnacle and an exclusive polished grille surround for the Pinnacle.

All models will again have alloy wheels in a variety of finishes. Among gas-only models, expect 17-inchers as standard on the Touring and Touring L, 18s on Limited and optional on the Touring models, and 20s standard on the Pinnacle and optional on the Limited. For the Hybrid, 17-inch alloys are standard on the Touring and 18s are standard on the other trims and optional on the Touring.

2021 Pacifica Limited with S Appearance Package

All ’22 Pacificas except the Pinnacle should again be available with the S Appearance Package, which blacks out the grille and exterior trim and comes with black 18-inch alloys or, at extra cost, black 20s. Chrysler says about 30 percent of Pacifica buyers spring for this package.

2021 Pacifica Limited with second-row captain’s chairs

Practical, comfortable, and brimming with family-friendly touches, the ’22 Pacifica’s cabin will remain a model of the minivan art. Seating for seven will again be standard, with two second-row captain’s chairs and a three-place third-row bench. Optional on the gas-only Touring, Touring L, and Limited models should be seating for eight with a second-row bench that includes a center section that removes to create a third-row pass-through. This configuration should again cost around $600.

2021 Pacifica third-row seat

All ’22 Pacificas will again come with a three-passenger third-row bench. Eight-seaters have five child safety-seat latch positions, seven-seaters have four. Second-row side-window sunshades are standard; all but the base Touring model also have third-row shades.

The center position of both bench seats is narrow for grownups, but there’s plenty of adult-worthy kneeroom and headroom in all three rows. Expect gas-only models to return with Chrysler’s Stow ‘n Go seating that allows the outboard sections of the second row and the third-row bench to tumble and fold for a completely flat load floor aft of the front seats. With the second row in passenger position, the floor wells into which its seats fold become handy covered storage compartments. Placement of the battery pack eliminates this functionality for the Hybrid’s second row.

Returning conveniences will include the available hands-free power rear liftgate and hands-free power sliding side doors. Cargo volume is generous at 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 with it folded, and 140.5 with both the second and third rows stowed. The door pockets are narrow, but interior storage is otherwise plentiful and includes various slide-out drawers and a front floor purse bin. Pinnacle and Limited models get their own front-center console designs with additional storage space, wireless phone charging, and a padded top in lieu of fold-down seat-mounted armrests.

2021 Pacifica Pinnacle

The ’22 Pacifica Touring should return with cloth upholstery, the Touring L with leather, and the Limited with Nappa leather. The Pinnacle should again stand out with exclusive Caramel Nappa hides with quilted side bolsters, contrasting piping and stitching, removable second-row pillows, a black suede headliner, and upscale Berber floor mats. Models with the S Appearance Package would get black seats and black interior trim with grey accents. Optional on Limiteds with the S Appearance Package should again be the Red S Appearance Package, which brings red leather upholstery.

2021 Pacifica Limited

Controls are straightforward and handy, although the rotary transmission gear selector feels like budget-grade plastic and there’s an annoying delay between selecting the gear and confirmation of its engagement. All models have a 7-inch digital gauge cluster. Hybrid models get a power-source meter in place of a tachometer, plus readouts of remaining battery charge and an estimate of how long it would take to replenish while charging on a level one (110-volt household) and level two (240-volt) circuit.

All ’22 Pacificas will come with a 10.1-inch central dashboard touchscreen and Chrysler’s latest Uconnect infotainment interface with Alexa. The system enables users to interact with Alexa as they would at home or on a personal device. They can issue orders to remotely start the minivan and control the door locks, and onboard, to play music and access innumerable other Alexa services.

Imbedded navigation should again be standard for the Limited and Pinnacle and optional for Touring L as part of the Premium Audio Group. The touchscreen’s graphics are crisp, voice-command response generally accurate. But a few functions would be better served by physical buttons rather than by icons that open to submenus. Among these are the available heated and ventilated front seats and heated steering wheel.

FamCAM interior camera view

We’d also suggest Chrysler expand availability of its FamCAM, a ceiling-mounted video camera that projects on the dash screen an overhead view of the second- and third-row seats. It’s great for monitoring little ones, especially those in rear-facing child seats. The images are hi-def, there’s a “zoom-to-seat” function, and a memory setting keeps the camera in the most recent position. For model-year ’21, FamCAM was available on Touring L and Limited trims as part of their Family Convenience Group option. We think ’22 Touring and Pinnacle owners might find it useful, too.

Returning as standard for the Pinnacle and optional for Limited and Touring L should be the parent-calming Uconnect Theater rear-entertainment system with Blu-ray DVD player and wireless headphones . Its two 10.1-inch touchscreens mounted to the front seatbacks support individual video and audio sources, have discrete HDMI inputs, and have several built-in activities, including “Are We There Yet” and the “License Plate Game.” Look as well for the return of Chrysler’s Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum cleaner as standard on Limited and Pinnacle and optional for the Touring L. Up to 12 USB Type A and Type C ports, depending on the model and chosen package, will return. So will standard wireless support for both Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.

Any 2022 Chrysler Pacifica mechanical changes?

2021 Pacifica Pinnacle with optional AWD

Very unlikely. The ’22 Pacifica will return as the only minivan to offer gas-only and hybrid powertrains, plus the option of all-wheel drive. The gas engine is smooth and capable, the hybrid offers the unique rewards of all-electric propulsion, and AWD is an all-weather confidence builder.

The gas-only models will return with a 3.6-liter V-6 expected to again make 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’ll team with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive will remain standard on all ’22 Pacificas. The ’22 Pacifica Hybrid will again pair a modified version of the 3.6-liter gasoline V-6 with two electric motors powered by a 16-kilowatt-hour battery. Chrysler lists total system output of 260 horsepower but doesn’t specify a torque figure.The hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. It performs the role of a conventional automatic transmission but without stepped gear ratios.

Acceleration with the gas engine is satisfyingly linear, with good pickup away from a stop, fine midrange response, and plenty of oomph for freeway merging and highway-speed passing. The hybrid has a different character, thanks to its mix of propulsion sources: electric only in EV mode and gas assisted by electric as a conventional hybrid.

2021 Pacifica Hybrid cutaway

As a plug-in, the Hybrid can draw from the electric grid an initial charge sufficient to travel an EPA-estimated 32 miles on battery power alone. (Our test example went as much as 37 miles at around-town speed with the air conditioner on and three passengers aboard.) In pure-electric mode, the Pacifica Hybrid is a silent partner, moving off smartly and keeping pace easily with traffic. Floor the throttle to summon sudden acceleration and the gas engine automatically kicks in, but with an unpleasant growl and surprisingly little additional thrust.

2021 Pacifica Hybrid gauges

With the initial charge depleted, the plug-in operates as a traditional hybrid. Sensors determine the optimal combination of gas propulsion and electric assist, and the battery is recharged by recapturing energy otherwise lost to braking and coasting. Even in this mode, though, the Hybrid can feel lethargic when asked to blend with fast-moving traffic or overtake at highway speeds. Overall, the gas-only Pacifica has reserves of power the Hybrid can’t match.

And gas-only ’22 Pacificas will again offer optional AWD for added traction in snow or on low-grip surfaces, such as gravel. The AWD system automatically sends engine power to the rear wheels when sensors detect tire slip or abrupt steering or throttle inputs. It also activates in cold weather and with the windshield wipers on. When it isn’t needed, the system aims to save gas by automatically disconnecting drive to the rear wheels.

Absent since model-year 2005, Chrysler reintroduced AWD to its minivan for 2021, matching a feature that had been a Sienna exclusive. It’s worth noting the all-new 2021 Sienna threw this segment a curve by launching exclusively as a conventional gas-electric hybrid, teaming a four-cylinder gas engine with electric motors for a net 243 horsepower (Toyota doesn’t specify a torque figure). The Sienna, however, is available with both front-wheel drive and AWD, making it America’s only AWD hybrid minivan.

2021 Pacifica Pinnacle

Gas-only or plug-in, the ’22 Pacifica handles cleanly. Steering is natural-feeling and response is sure in changes of direction at the responsible speeds that suit minivan duty. Balance in sweeping highway-speed curves is impressive. Noseplow is evident if you attempt to rush into a sharp corner. It’s tempered somewhat by the AWD system’s ability to shuffle power to the rear wheels, but it’s a fact of life for any vehicle this type.   

Expect every ’22 Pacifica to feel composed over high-speed dips but ride quality over bumps should remain best with the 17- and 18-inch tires. The shorter-sidewall 20s don’t absorb broken pavement nearly as well, permitting impacts from potholes and full-width tar strips to jar the structure. Allowing for the Hybrid’s gas-engine coarseness in hard acceleration, travel is otherwise serene, with a cabin nicely isolated from wind and road noise.

Will 2022 Chrysler Pacifica fuel economy improve?

Pacifica Hybrid takes initial battery charge from the electric grid

With no changes to powertrains, probably not. Look for gas-only ’22 Pacificas with front-wheel drive to repeat EPA ratings of 18/28/22 mpg city/highway/combined. EPA ratings for the ’21 Pacifica with AWD were not announced in time for this review but the fuel-economy penalty should be minimal; we’d guess no more than 1 mpg across the board.  

Expect the ’22 Pacifica Hybrid to repeat its 2021 EPA marks: a 32-mile electric-only range and an 82 mpg-e combined city-highway. The mpg-e rating is the EPA’s calculation of an electric vehicle’s miles-per-gallon equivalent if it were running on gasoline. In conventional-hybrid mode, the ’22 Pacifica plug-in should again rate 30 mpg city-highway combined.  

Chrysler says the Pacifica Hybrid may be fully recharged via the 6.6-kWh on-board charger in as little as two hours using a 240-volt (Level 2) charger. In our tests of 2021 Pacifica Hybrids, recharge times for a depleted battery ranged from less than three hours from a 240-volt station to roughly 13 hours on a standard 110-volt household circuit.

Note that the Hybrid’s fuel tank holds 16.5 gallons versus the gas-only version’s 19. Yet the Hybrid’s ability to mix and match gas and electric fuel sources nets a total range of 520 miles between plug-in recharges or fuel-tank fill-ups, according to the EPA. The gas-only Pacifica’s range is 418 between fill-ups.

Will there be new 2022 Chrysler Pacifica features?

Pacifica Uconnect Theater entertainment system

Chrysler might shuffle a feature or two among trim levels or packages. But adding new items is unlikely given this minivan’s extensive roster of returning standard and optional equipment.

Foremost, the ’22 Pacifica will benefit from Chrysler’s smart decision to expand standard safety tech for model-year 2021. For ’22 all Pacificas will come with autonomous emergency braking designed to automatically stop the minivan to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian. Also included will be blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection, lane-maintaining automatic steering correction, and automatic reverse braking to mitigate a collision while backing up. Adaptive cruise control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead, even in stop-and-go driving, returns as standard, too. 

The 2022 Pacifica Hybrid models are virtual duplicates of their gas-only counterparts for standard and optional equipment.

Pacifica Limited and Pinnacle include a triple-pane moonroof

In addition to features already covered, expect 2022 Pacifica Touring models to include remote engine start, a power driver’s seat, heated mirrors, and three-zone automatic climate control. To that, the Touring L would add a roof rack, grocery-bag hooks on the third-row seatbacks, driver-seat memory, and a heated steering wheel and heated front seats.

Expect Limiteds to include all that plus heated outboard second-row seats, upgraded Alpine-brand audio system, power-folding exterior mirrors, tri-pane power panoramic sunroof, and ventilated front seats. The ’22 Pacifica Pinnacle will return as essentially a Limited gilded with the exclusive exterior trim and high-zoot cabin appointments, plus Harman Kardon-branded audio with subwoofer and 19 speakers (20 for the Pinnacle Hybrid)

Will 2022 Chrysler Pacifica prices be different?

2021 Pacifica Pinnacle

They’ll likely increase. The model-year ’20 introduction of the Voyager gave Chrysler room to take Pacifica upmarket, and it did. Estimated 2022 Pacifica base prices include the manufacturer’s destination fee, which was $1,495 on the 2021 Pacifica.

For gas-only front-wheel-drive ‘22 Pacificas, estimated base prices are $35500 for the Touring, $39,300 for the Touring L, $46,500 for the Limited, and $48,500 for the Pinnacle. Expect AWD to add around $1,800 to these base prices.  

For the ’22 Pacifica Hybrid, estimated starting prices are $37,000 for the Touring, $40,600 for the Touring L, $48,000 for the Limited, and $49,990 for the Pinnacle.

Options will again come mostly in packages, such as the Family Convenience Group. At an estimated $1000 and available for Touring, Touring L, and Limited models, it adds the Uconnect Theater system that’s standard on the Pinnacle.

Expect the S Appearance Package to cost around $795; double that for the red-leather Red S Appearance Package available on the Limited

Available on the Touring L and Limited and standard on the Pinnacle, the Safety Sphere Group should cost about $700 and include front-parking assist with automatic stop, semi-automated parallel and perpendicular park assist, and 360-degree video coverage. The Premium Audio Group for Touring L models should again add the Harmon Kardon audio upgrade, plus the Safety Sphere content, at an estimated $1,600.

When does the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica come out?

2021 Pacifica Limited with AWD and S Appearance Package

Expect a 2022 Chrysler Pacifica release date in fall 2021.

Best 2022 Chrysler Pacifica competitors

Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Toyota Sienna

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]