The Most Popular 2023 Minivan Is the Least Reliable
The Chrysler Pacifica is effectively the successor of the model that brought the “minivan” moniker into the common automotive parlance and onto driveways across the United States in staggering numbers in the early and mid-1980s. Four decades on, Chrysler continues to lead the minivan segment in popularity, even as it faces far fewer competitors today, and the popularity of the style has waned from its heyday several decades ago. Though the Pacifica remains the most popular choice, and it’s a standout even among stiff competition, the Chrysler Pacifica’s reliability makes it a compromised option in the segment that should merit shopping around.
The Pacifica remains the sales king of the minivan segment
Through September, Chrysler sold over 112,000 Pacifica models, putting it ahead of such popular models as the Subaru Forester, Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Traverse, and Hyundai Santa Fe, according to GoodCarBadCar. In fact, 2023 could be a stellar year for the Pacifica. Annual sales through Q3 are up 48 percent.
The Honda Odyssey is playing second fiddle to the Pacifica for sales. And though over 53,000 Odysseys have been sold so far this year, that’s still less than half the number of Pacificas finding new owners through the first nine months of 2023. The Toyota Sienna is nipping at the heels of the Odyssey with sales up 71 percent this year, but 47,753 units sold through September puts it at third in the minivan sales rankings.
The Kia Carnival is the relative newcomer to the fray, having been introduced as the replacement for the Sedona beginning in the 2022 model year. The Carnival is beginning to catch on among buyers, with 33,173 units sold this year, but again, the Pacifica is outselling it by more than three models to one.
Yet, popularity doesn’t always ensure reliability.
The Chrysler Pacifica’s reliability ranks last among minivans
According to J.D. Power’s quality and reliability scores, which “measures the level of defects, malfunctions, and design flaws” actual owners have experienced, the Pacifica is the least reliable among the four minivans available.
The Pacifica is given a score of 71 out of 100 possible points. The Odyssey and Sienna, meanwhile, tied for second with a score of 78. The Carnival is rated highest at 80/100.
To note, the Pacifica is also last in expected resale value, earning 75 points while its three competitors each scored over 80 points. The Sienna leads the segment with 87 points out of 100.
Minivan competition is stiff, and the Pacifica is still a standout
There’s a good reason the Chrysler Pacifica remains the most popular minivan — it’s a solid choice in a segment that doesn’t have any lackluster options.
The Pacifica may cost a bit more than its rivals — or notably more than the base Carnival — but its overall package delivers all the positive attributes minivan buyers seek from a family hauler. It’s spacious in all three rows, further aided by a sunken rear deck that can be used to flatly stow away the rear seats. For added cargo hauling, the Stow-N-Go system delivers the only fully collapsible middle row in the minivan segment.
The Pacifica’s driving dynamics — yes, they are still important in a minivan — are commendable, with the Chrysler delivering a comfortable and mostly composed ride with respectable power. The Pacifica is also the only model in its segment to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain (all Sienna models are now hybrids, but not PHEVs).
There are also plenty of family-friendly features like a built-in vacuum and a camera system that allows front passengers to keep an eye on the kids in the back. Top-tier models also sport features like quilted leather seats and lumbar pillows for the second-row captain’s chairs to up the luxe features.
Overall, the Pacifica ticks all the right boxes for the segment, even if the Chrysler Pacifica’s reliability is lacking compared to some of its rivals.