Home » Holy Crap Did Chrysler Ruin The Look Of The Pacifica

Holy Crap Did Chrysler Ruin The Look Of The Pacifica

Pacifica Face Top
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I’ll admit I feel a little bad ragging upon Chrysler, which barely seems to be hanging on. The once-iconic marque is now reduced to selling two cars, the absolute minimum possible number that allows the use of the plural form of the word “car.” One of those cars is the Chrysler 300, which is being discontinued next year, and last had a significant update a dozen years ago, and even then it wasn’t really that much of a change, with the LD platform it’s based on being pretty damn close to the old LX platform from 2005. The 300 is a handsome old grandpa. But I want to talk about the Pacifica, their minivan, which I like, but which seems to have gotten a really unfortunate facelift. Is this punching down? I’m not even sure anymore.

Carandminivan

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I feel like even the text that comes up when you Google Chrysler is sad, because it’s overly generous with the plurals. It’s not Cars and Minivans, it’s a car and a minivan, singular, though there is a hybrid version of that minivan. Chrysler is really the Chryslerian Remnant at this point.

Here’s the thing about the Pacifica: I like the Pacifica! I think it’s a pretty fantastic minivan. I drove one back when it came out in 2017, and found it to be absolutely practical and appealing. And one of the things I liked best about it was the elegant front-end treatment.

Fam Van

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I mean, look at it: it doesn’t feel like everything else out there. It emphasizes the width of the vehicle and it combines the lights and grille into a coherent whole with those swooping chrome strips that figure-8 around the grille and lights, and that same motif is repeated in the lower air intake and foglamp area.

Hybridfront

I think the hybrid version worked the best because the grille mesh itself consisted of horizontal slats that echoed the shapes of the surrounding loops, and the whole thing feels elegant and flowing and cohesive. There’s even a touch of Art Nouveau in there, which is very uncommon to see even hinted at in a modern car.  It’s a great look, and I’m sorry I haven’t noted my admiration for it more emphatically before.

The look seems to have grown from the ill-fated second-generation Chrysler 200’s front-end treatment:

Chrysler200

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Say what you will about the 200, if you can even be bothered to come up with any words to say about it, but it had a handsome face! This was a good look!

Unfortunately, around 2021 Chrysler decided that the Pacifica needed an update. As you can see, I haven’t exactly had my finger on the pulse of Chrysler goings-on. Instead of doing anything, you know, good, they changed the front end to look like this:

Newpacifica

Way, to go, Chrysler. You just made 50% of the vehicles you have for sale worse looking, and, even worse, more boring. This front end gives the whole van a sour, displeased look, like it just smelled something foul or watched you walk out in jorts and Crocs and is not having it. It looks like a jerk now. Gone is the elegance and unusual grace of the previous front end, and in its place is this sourpuss punim.

In fact, it feels like a step backwards for Chrysler design; if the earlier, pre-facelift Pacifica borrowed from the second-generation Chrysler 200, this update seems to look like the first-gen one from 2011, with the separate, oblong-ish grille and wide lamps:

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Pacifica 200

It’s just worse. Chrysler took the best part of their Pacifca and flushed it down the crapper. Chrysler may be a shell of what it once was, but they still need to hear this. Consider it tough love, or whatever. I think the brand has a chance for re-birth and renewed relevance, possibly with a new electric Airflow that’s a re-bodied version of the Citroën Ë-C4, but they’re not going to make it unless honest people like us sit them down and tell them the hard truths like this: they fucked up the Pacifica’s face.

So there.

[Ed note: While I see Jason’s point, and agree that the Pacifica is a great vehicle, the redesign doesn’t bother me. It looks a little more upscale and less early 2010s to me. – MH]

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Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
1 month ago

We need more PHEV minivans. The Pacifica is nice, but crazy expensive to lease for reasons that escape me. Maybe more competition would help.

And in any case a minivan is the perfect use case for a daily that runs errands around town a lot and could fo it on electric power.

Steve Schwinghammer
Steve Schwinghammer
1 month ago

How are they still selling a car that hasn’t been redesigned since 2005. To put that in perspective, the Jeep Wrangler TJ still had a whole other year of production when the 300 came out and has since been redesigned 2.5 times.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Schwinghammer
Justin Short
Justin Short
1 month ago

Oh look it’s the new ford connect

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 month ago

While I can appreciate the thoughtfulness of the previous design… I don’t think it looked good. It was kinda bland. The new Pacifica face is clearly intended to resemble the 300, and I think it makes the van look a bit more sporty. Also, in person they look significantly better than the digital images posted here.

The current Pacifica is the best-looking minivan on the market right now IMO, Kia’s weird boxy thing is a close second but it feels like it’s trying to be something it’s not.

BobWellington
BobWellington
1 month ago

The refresh looks way better IMO.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
2 months ago

Agreed. The original had a really iconic look, dopey as the ‘smiley-face’ grille was. The facelift goes with the same fake-Audi one-frame grille that everyone from DS Automobiles to Lincoln is trying these days, generic and boring.

Santiago Iglesias
Santiago Iglesias
2 months ago

It looks way better in my opinion and I have to stare at these things every day. If you want the ugly front bumper you can still get a Voyager! (which is just a base model pacifica)

ScottyB
ScottyB
2 months ago

Sad they landed on this when the model range will soon be exactly one vehicle and they could do pretty much anything they wanted.

MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
2 months ago

As pointed out by Jason, when the Pacifica first hit the market it had a face cribbed almost directly from the 200. It was a great corporate face. Didn’t quite mesh with the 300, but it was the newer direction that Chrysler was heading while still under FCA.

This was my take when the refresh happened. The refreshed Pacifica was redesigned to look closer to the Dodge brand. The headlights now had C-shaped DRLs with the ends pointing towards the grille, the same as the Charger and Durango. The lower bumper/fog light area was squared off which was very similar in size/shape to the updated Durango in this lower bumper corner area.

Why would they style it to look closer to Dodge? My hunch was that Chrysler was about to get the axe and the Pacifica was going to be repositioned as a Doge (and maybe even renamed as the Grand Caravan). But, that was put on hold as the merger into Stellantis happened. They announced at that time each brand had 10 years to get their shit together, so that gave Chrysler a life line.

I still think that Chrysler is on life support. I don’t see it being around much, unless something drastic happens. And i’m saying this as an owner of a 2023 300C.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
2 months ago
Reply to  MikuhlBrian

I think the decision to make their latest stab at the compact crossover market a Dodge (Hornet) tells me that Chrysler will be dead within the next couple of years. I just don’t see what products they’re going to have once the 300 is dead, and their minivan can easily just become the Caravan again.

Unless Stellantis decides to take a few of the Peugeots they have and rebadge them for Chrysler, I’ve got to imagine the brand is dead soon.

Alec Weinstein
Alec Weinstein
1 month ago
Reply to  MikuhlBrian

Holy shit, I think you’re on to something. I’ve been in the same boat as Torch, but now that you’ve said that…

Evan Donahue
Evan Donahue
2 months ago

You’re not going to want to look at the lighting differences between the ’22 and ’23+.

86-GL
86-GL
2 months ago

Idk man, this is old news and a weird take. The facelift has been out for years now, and it looks fine, especially in real life. Better than the vague, non-committal blob-fish look of the debut models.

I don’t love aggressive design, but the refresh brought the look in line with the rest of the Chrysler/Jeep/Ram lineup, and it’s actually quite tame by modern standards. Go look at the Toyota Sienna if you want to see something beat by the aggro-alien ugly stick.

If anything, the facelift evokes the look and attitude of the 3rd gen Caravans, and the rest of the cab-forward, Y2K-era Chrysler products. This site has taught me to appreciate that design movement as innovative and influential, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Chrysler lean into what has worked well for them in the modern era.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
2 months ago

By the way, when you are using Adaptive Cruise Control, on the screen when there is a car in front of you, the graphic is a Chrysler 200 lol and I am talking about the 2022 version, they haven’t even bothered to switch the graphic, GM uses a Camaro in the 2023 Chevy Blazer.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
2 months ago

What’s confounding is that they made one of the same missteps that Ford did with the Windstar for the 1998 model with the headlight shape, but executed even worse. They went from an established (if blobby) wedge shape that makes visual sense (in that we expect things to get visually stronger – taller and/or wider – in the corners with the appearance of channeling the visual flow up and around the element to having an angled shape at the leading edge, which – in some cases – may look “angry/aggressive”) to the jarring inwards-angled leading edge that looks like it slows airflow down and disrupts the lines of the vehicle. The current camaro does it; the current Explorer and Edge do it; the last US-market Focus, Fusion, Fiesta (though not as bad or as jarring as the others, as they matched the grille shape floating below so it wasn’t as visually disruptive) and similarly a bunch of the current Toyota SUVs and the Tacoma; and most recently (and even more harshly executed) Honda is putting it through its refreshed lineup with the accord, hr-v, cr-v, etc.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
2 months ago

It looks like a prognathous carp yawning

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
2 months ago

> the absolute minimum possible number that allows the use of the plural form of the word “car.”

Technically, zero is the minimum possible number for the plural. As an example:

“As soon as Stellantis comes to their senses, Chrysler will be selling zero cars.”

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
2 months ago

Seems like a little old news, but I wholeheartedly agree. Ever since they brought out the restyle, I’ve been shaking my head. Such knuckleheads. It was unique and it worked. Then they hit it with the boring stick and made it look more 2010-ish. So so dumb.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
2 months ago

Now do the ridiculously ugly Toyota minivan.

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