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The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Seems Out of Place on This List

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, MotorTrend placed the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica on its shortlist for the 2021 Car of the Year. Just how did a minivan find itself in such a rarefied company? In an award section dominated by cars, the Chrysler Pacifica tries to prove why it made the list.

MotorTrend’s Car of the Year awards

A cursory glance of the rest of the cars on MotorTrend‘s 2021 Car of the Year list reveals the usual suspects in family sedans, coupes, and convertibles. MotorTrend says it used “six key-criteria” points based on “instrumented and subjective testing” during a 10-day evaluation conducted by a panel of editors and testing teams.

The considerations included:

  • Value
  • Safety 
  • Efficiency
  • Engineering excellence
  • Performance for its intended function
  • Advancement in design — checking for creative use of materials in interior and exterior styling

The finalists

Mercedes-Benz E-Class: MotorTrend awarded the Benz the top honor after being wowed by its “physical and emotional” embodiment of the word “excellence,” calling it a “stunning accomplishment.”

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class: This “impressive” Benz made the list for its appealing “nightclub interior” and AMG engine.

BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe: It may not have scooped the top award, but a comparison of the judges’ awards reveals it was the most desirable car of BMW’s range. Most of the judges were smitten by the ride. Testing director Kim Reynolds even called it a “sweetheart.”

Hyundai Sonata: Hyundai has been offering surprisingly good cars in recent years. The 2021 Sonata continues in the same vein. Speaking of surprises: Miguel Cortina was impressed by this “sporty sedan,” and Reynolds added it wasn’t another “sloppy family sedan.”

Nissan Sentra: The Sentra is spacious and well-designed, managing to ‘look more expensive than it actually is,’ MotorTrend’s editor-in-chief mistaking it for the new Audi. It offers outstanding value, with convenience gear and a full safety package as standard.

Porsche Taycan: The Taycan brings electric car goodness to the predominantly fuel-powered automobile. Cortina observed how “it felt like a Porsche: engaging, elegant, and confidence-inspiring.” And features editor Christian Seabaugh said it was a “silly, silly, wonderful car.”

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica

RELATED: The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Is a Great Way to Haul 7 People

Nothing special can come out of a minivan, right? Well, in a sea of performance-centric cars, the Chrysler Pacifica made MotorTrend’s Car of the Year list, which counts for something.

After years in Toyota’s and Honda’s shadows, Chrysler finally got it right with the 2021 Pacifica. MotorTrend loves that the Pacifica is more capable and responds to corners well for a vehicle of its kind. 

Even though its 3.6-liter V6 produces the same 287 hp as the 2020 version, the Pacifica performs much better thanks to the “diet” that saw it lose 150 pounds and gain a new nine-speed automatic transmission. 

The interior is where the Pacifica really shines. It maintains the Stow ‘n Go seating, a nifty bit of innovation that means the seats fold flush with the floor. And thanks to cubbies on the floor, they can act as storage containers when not in use. Speaking of storage: The Pacifica comes loaded with storage options in the dashboard, console, and underfloor bins.

Parents will enjoy the noise-canceling features after a school run. That’s because Chrysler beefed up the body sealing, thickened the sliding door glass, and fitted acoustic glass on the windshield.

And higher-trim Pacificas boast business-jet-like leather materials and padded seating. Plus, the ergonomic Uconnect earns its stripes as the most straightforward infotainment system, while the two rear screens, six standard USB ports, and optional Wi-Fi make long travels a breeze. The FamCam feature, allowing a bird’s-eye view of the rear seats, is “absolutely killer,” says Johnny Lieberman, MotorTrend’s senior features editor.

All things considered, it’s no wonder the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica zoomed onto MotorTrend’s radar this year.