To properly review the Chrysler Pacifica, one should really have children: kids require hauling a bunch of stuff around, they require constant entertainment, and you need a bunch of seats. I think that’s why Verge senior editor Dan Seifert, dad of two preschoolers, keeps asking if he can borrow one for a week — or the next 10–15 years.
But when I picked up a Pacifica to shuttle around The Verge staff at the Detroit Auto Show this year, I didn’t have a gang of four-year-olds. I had the next best thing: Phil Esposito and Tyler Pina from our crack video team. They’re a lot like young children, actually: they have a lot of camera gear, tripods, and luggage to haul around, and they need constant entertainment.
They were the perfect testers for this rather excellent minivan: Camera gear and luggage for six people easily fit in the trunk; there was ample seating for six jet-lagged journalists (seven, if the folks in the back row are friendly); and, perhaps most importantly, the seat-back touchscreens had multiplayer checkers.
As anyone with kids can tell you, keeping them quiet in the car can be a chore. That’s why high-end minivans have offered rear-seat entertainment for decades. Back when I was a kid, we had actual VCRs, while more recent iterations have brought DVD and Blu-ray players.
Of course, the Pacifica has a Blu-ray player, as well as individual HDMI inputs for each side in case you want to haul along an Xbox on your cross-country ramble to grandma’s. There are headphones so you don’t have to listen to SpongeBob SquarePants and, crucially for us, the backseat touchscreens also include multiplayer checkers.
And so, our weeklong Detroit adventure (which included twice-daily waits at border control as we were staying across the river in Canada) turned into an epic checkers tournament between Phil and Tyler, keeping them quiet and occupied, and stopping them from asking their chauffeur “Are we there yet?” as we sat in endless auto show traffic.
With the UConnect Theater package (a $2,000 option on the Pacifica’s Limited trim level), each of my two kids — err, video directors — got their own 10.1-inch seatback-mounted touchscreen with checkers, tic-tac-toe, the “license plate game” (where you check off license plates from each state as you see them), as well as a clever “Are we there yet?” app that ties into the front-seat navigation system to tell kids how far they have yet to travel.
Oh, and it has as many as 13 cupholders (almost two per person!) and 6 USB ports (almost one per person!). Could it get any better?
Editor’s Note: Tyler would also like everyone to know that he soundly beat Phil in the inaugural Verge Detroit Auto Show Chrysler Pacifica Checkers Tournament. Phil is studiously preparing for a rematch.