For an entire year during COVID-19, I took a backseat when it comes to car testing.
Before that, I had tested and reviewed cars for about 10 years straight. It’s a long story about why I had to sit this one out, and also why I am using so many automotive puns. Let’s just say the struggle is real, I had the virus for a while, we lived in a different city, and everything is back to normal. (I mean, as normal as we can all expect after a worldwide pandemic.)
What did I miss during that year? Plenty. In that time, electric cars have emerged as genuine, for real this time, actually viable options despite the major infrastructure issues. I also missed the Netflix debut on the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle. Now, the way car testing works you just never know when you will be able to drive a model with a new feature, and for whatever reason the last time I reviewed this car was way back in 2021 and that model did not have streaming apps like Amazon Prime and Netflix for the back-seat entertainment screens.
After some research, I found that the 2021 model did have Prime and Netflix, but not on the minivan I tested back then. No matter. Fast forward to the 2022 model year and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle does have it, the feature is amazing, and I was able to go hands-on.
A little backstory here. I’ve lived through all the ups and downs of in-car entertainment. It has mostly been downs. The wireless service and Wi-Fi in the car (two different things, by the way — you need cellular access from the car, and then Wi-Fi lets you connect from any seat) worked sometimes, but not always. The original options for video were more about streaming something from your phone, which was always a pain. These days, it’s click — you’re using Netflix.
Another big surprise is that it is not just Netflix. In fact, the entertainment system uses Amazon Fire TV with a remarkably familiar remote (since I own a Toshiba Fire TV and know the interface). After logging into my account, all the apps I know and use daily popped up.
I had no trouble watching multiple Amazon Prime and Netflix shows. Sitting in my driveway in the back-seat might have looked odd to my neighbors but I watched an episode of The Peripheral and while I don’t love the show, the sound in the minivan is amazing and let’s just say I made frequent use of the included remote to skip ahead through boring scenes.
You might have arrived at this article because of the Netflix promise, and you won’t be disappointed. Netflix works. It streamed smoothly without any glitches. I watched part of a new war movie and a few comedy shows. I imagined going back in time, going on a long road trip with my kids and giving them access to a million kids shows and PG movies.
I also imagined sitting in the rain at a campsite or rest-stop and being able to watch television to wait out a storm. Or camping in the van itself (which I have done before) and watching shows. The entire experience was immediate, fluid, and fun. I remember the days when it was clunky and not fun. Props to the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle for figuring it out.