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Would you bet on a Chrysler minivan to outrun a Toyota sports car?

Drag-Strip Challenge: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Vs. 2017 Toyota 86
The humble, family-friendly minivan often gets a bad reputation among motorists. Most models in the segment are written off as being slow, top-heavy machines with the handling prowess of a Sears riding mower. A recent video proves buying a people-hauler with sliding doors doesn’t mean getting sent to a special level of hell where speed is banished.

Website Cars.com staged an unlikely drag race in Wisconsin. The publication put a Chrysler Pacifica on the left side of the track, and a Toyota 86 in the right lane. Both cars are completely stock so a sporty, compact coupe should be able to beat an eight-seater shaped like a toaster in a race, right?

The answer isn’t as simple as it might seem. Although not designed for high-speed shenanigans, the Pacifica is equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine tuned to produce 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. A variant of the surprisingly peppy six-cylinder is also found under the hood of the Jeep Wrangler, among other models.

Toyota has made it clear that it won’t turbocharge the 86 in the foreseeable future, so the coupe gets by with a 2.0-liter flat-four engine rated at 205 horsepower and just 156 pound-feet of torque. While it’s much lighter than the Pacifica, power and weight are only part of the story in a drag race.

The Pacifica comes with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The 86 ships with a six-speed manual, but the example used in the drag race features the optional six-speed automatic that can be left in drive or shifted manually using steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The transmission was the deciding factor, according to Cars.com, and the Pacifica beat the 86 by a comfortable margin. It performed the benchmark 0-to-60-mph sprint in eight seconds flat, and it raced through the quarter-mile in 15.9 seconds. In comparison, the 86 took 8.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill, and its quarter-mile time checked in at 16.3 seconds.

The moral of the story is that the six-speed manual transmission makes the 86 a better performance machine, especially if drag racing is what you’re into. And, think twice the next time you want to challenge a soccer mom to a race at a stoplight. Some of the market’s most unassuming minivans are approaching Golf R levels of horsepower.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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