2020 Chrysler Pacifica vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Chrysler Pacifica are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Toyota Highlander doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Pacifica has standard Rear Park Assist with Stop that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Highlander doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Compared to metal, the Pacifica’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.

Both the Pacifica and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Chrysler Pacifica is safer than the Toyota Highlander:

Pacifica

Highlander

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

There are almost 2 times as many Chrysler dealers as there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pacifica’s warranty.

Reliability

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Pacifica has a standard 730-amp battery. The Highlander’s 604-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

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The Pacifica Hybrid’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 75 more horsepower (260 vs. 185) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Chrysler Pacifica V6 is faster than the Toyota Highlander V6:

Pacifica

Highlander

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.5 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

The Pacifica Hybrid can drive on battery power alone for up to 32 miles. The Highlander must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regardless of its engine, the Pacifica’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Toyota only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Highlander LE Plus/XLE/Limited/Platinum.

The Pacifica has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Chrysler Pacifica higher (7 out of 10) than the Toyota Highlander (3 to 5). This means the Pacifica produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Highlander every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Chrysler Pacifica, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Highlander.

The Pacifica Hybrid has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Highlander doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

The Pacifica stops much shorter than the Highlander:

Pacifica

Highlander

70 to 0 MPH

164 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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The Pacifica’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

For better load carrying, ride, handling and brake cooling the Pacifica offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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The Pacifica has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Pacifica has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Pacifica’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Highlander doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Pacifica’s wheelbase is 11.8 inches longer than on the Highlander (121.6 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Pacifica is 3.8 inches wider in the front and 4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Highlander.

Chassis

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The design of the Chrysler Pacifica amounts to more than styling. The Pacifica offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .298 to .3 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is significantly lower than the Highlander (.33 to .34) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Pacifica get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the Pacifica uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Highlander doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Pacifica uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Pacifica has 20.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander (165.1 vs. 144.9).

The Pacifica has 1.8 inches more front hip room, 4.5 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear legroom, 7.7 inches more rear hip room, 3.4 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.8 inches more third row headroom, 8.8 inches more third row legroom, 3.9 inches more third row hip room and 6.2 inches more third row shoulder room than the Highlander.

The front step up height for the Pacifica is 3 inches lower than the Highlander (16.3” vs. 19.3”). The Pacifica’s rear step up height is 1.3 inches lower than the Highlander’s (18.2” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

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The Pacifica’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander.

Pacifica

Highlander

Behind Third Seat

32.3 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

87.5 cubic feet

42.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

140.5 cubic feet

83.7 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Pacifica easier. The Pacifica’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 24.3 inches, while the Highlander’s liftover is 29.7 inches.

The Pacifica’s cargo area is larger than the Highlander’s in almost every dimension:

Pacifica

Highlander

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

23.2”/57.5”/92.5”

17.5”/43”/80”

Max Width

49.3”

56”

Min Width

48.8”

45.6”

Height

47.6”

32.6”

The Pacifica has standard Stow ‘n Go™ second and third row seats (except Hybrid for the second row), which fold flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Highlander doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Pacifica’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Pacifica’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The Pacifica’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (3600 vs. 1500 pounds).

Servicing Ease

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The Pacifica has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Highlander doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

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The Pacifica offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Pacifica Limited non-Hybrid’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Pacifica’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Highlander does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Pacifica’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Highlander’s parking brake has to released manually.

The power windows standard on both the Pacifica and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Pacifica is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Pacifica’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Highlander’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

When the Pacifica Limited is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Pacifica Limited has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Pacifica has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Highlander.

The Pacifica (except Hybrid Touring)’s optional ParkSense Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, steering and operating the brakes. The Highlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pacifica is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because it costs $218 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pacifica than the Highlander, including $54 less for a starter, $264 less for fuel injection, $83 less for a fuel pump and $875 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Pacifica second among minivans in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Highlander isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Pacifica was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 3 of the last 3 years. The Highlander has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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