What Chrysler Pacifica Does Better and Worse Than Honda Odyssey, Pilot

How our long-termer holds up against two rivals

One benefit of our long-term Pacifica being in and out of the shop is that I've gotten to spend time in a number of other vehicles that could fill the same role. In most cases, I prefer the Pacifica. But there are a few areas where the competition has the advantage.

Let's start with the Pacifica's direct rival, the Honda Odyssey. We've already covered the differences between the Pacifica and Odyssey in exhaustive detail as part of our bracket-style March Mayhem comparison test (spoiler alert: The Pacifica wins that minivan matchup and ultimately the championship), so I'll just briefly weigh in with a few of my own thoughts.

First, a quick review of the feature I was most envious of when the new Odyssey was first announced: CabinWatch. The optional camera system allows you to keep an eye on your child when placed in a rear-facing child seat, which any paranoid first-time parent can agree is a great idea. But after using the feature, I don't think I'm missing out on too much. The camera is mounted in the ceiling and provides a top-down view of the entire rear passenger compartment. Because it's meant to offer a wide view of every rear seat, the picture comes with a noticeable fisheye-type distortion. You can pinch and zoom in on any seat to get a better look, but it doesn't provide the extreme close-up of my son's face I had hoped it would (because, seriously, look at that face). A headrest-mounted mirror has worked just as well, if not better—at least in the daytime. I can see the covert-ops-esque night vision mode being useful when it gets dark.

The Odyssey's steering feels less direct and slower to respond to inputs than my long-termer. The Pacifica's steering wheel, with its thick, plushly padded leather-wrapped rim, also feels better in my hands. You may argue that those points are irrelevant in a minivan, but take it from someone who's driven one for more than half a year: They matter. One thing I wish the Pacifica had is the Odyssey's 10-speed automatic transmission. That unit shifts much smoother than FCA's nine-speed, especially in stop-and-go traffic.

One minivan alternative I sampled was another product from the Honda stable: the Pilot three-row crossover. Not surprisingly, the Pacifica works better as a people mover with its wide-opening sliding doors and easy access to the third row via the aisle between the second-row captain's chairs. But I did appreciate how the seats in the Pilot fold and slide forward at the push of a button. I realize you sacrifice sliding capability with Stow 'n Go seats that fold origami-style and disappear into the floor, but it would be cool if FCA engineers could one day figure out how we could have it both ways.

When it comes to infotainment, there's no question the Pacifica Limited's 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen is superior to the units with Garmin-powered navigation available in the Hondas. I do wish that some features, like the camera and rear climate controls, weren't locked away in menu screens. But overall, the interface is well designed and intuitive.


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Automotive Magazine: What Chrysler Pacifica Does Better and Worse Than Honda Odyssey, Pilot
What Chrysler Pacifica Does Better and Worse Than Honda Odyssey, Pilot
How our long-termer holds up against two rivals
Automotive Magazine
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