Thirty years after they introduced the first minivan, Chrysler reinvented the segment with the introduction of the all-new 2017 Pacifica earlier this year. Now they’re adding a hybrid plug-in Pacifica to the lineup giving families the convenience of a minivan with the road trip-worthy fuel economy of a hybrid.
Minivans aren’t the go-to family vehicles they were 10 years ago. Crossovers and SUVs have taken their place, so you won’t see as many of them on the road today. Still, there of plenty of moms waiting in carpool lines ready to slide open those minivan doors so the kids can pile inside at the end of the school day.
Rather than introduce an updated version of their existing minivan, Chrysler chose to say goodbye to the Town & Country and roll out the Pacifica as an all-new vehicle. This isn’t simply a matter of sticking a new badge on an updated version of the old minivan. It’s a whole new vehicle with attractive style, advanced safety technologies, and a long list of features minivan owners will love.
There’s the Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment system to keep the kiddies entertained and give parents a little break. It boasts two high-definition touchscreens with built-in games and the ability to connect personal devices to get online and surf the Internet. It’s a fantastic feature whether you’re driving around town running errands or waiting for one kid to get out of practice while desperately trying to keep the other one entertained.
Over 100 standard and available safety features make sure you and your crew are safe. A standout feature is the surround-view camera. It uses four separate cameras to show a unified 360-degree view and a bird’s eye view of the area around the Pacifica. There’s also blind-spot monitoring, rear park assist, rear backup camera, electronic stability control, and electric park brake standard across the lineup.
The are advanced features like ParkSense parallel and perpendicular park assist to guide you into a parking space. Adaptive cruise control maintains a set distance between you and the car ahead and even stops the car in certain situations to make that family road trip less tiring and forward collision warning-plus warns you to stop and will apply the brakes to help avoid a collision.
The features in the hybrid are similar to what you’ll find in the gasoline-powered Pacifica, but with the added perk of hybrid technology. This puts you behind the wheel of a minivan that averages 80 MPGe with an all-electric range of 30 miles and a total driving range of 530 miles. You’ll save time by spending less of it at the pump and you’ll save money spending less to fill that tank. The 30-mile electric range could see you running a day’s worth of errands without using even a sip of gas.
The hybrid version of the Pacifica rides much like its gasoline-powered sibling. Seating is comfortable and supportive so you won’t be aching at the end of that summer road trip and there is plenty of room for everyone and everything. The top-heaviness often found in a minivan or SUV is minimal so you feel in control even on narrow, twisting canyon roads. Whether your height is five feet or well over six, a wide range of seating positions ensures every driver has a clear view.
It’s also responsive. Neither minivans nor hybrids have a reputation for being fun to drive, but the Pacifica has plenty of power to make the driver confident when accelerating into heavy traffic. Take it for a drive and you’ll be surprised. Whether in electric or hybrid mode, power is good and the transition between the two is so smooth you won’t feel it at all. You’ll only know when you hear the sound of that V6 engine.
A specially modified version of Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gasoline engine along with a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack provide power for the Pacifica Hybrid. The battery is beneath the second-row floor, which unfortunately means the loss of the Stow ‘n Go seating for that row. However, putting the battery beneath the second row helps improve the Pacifica’s handling by keeping the weight of the battery low and more centered. It’s a reasonable trade-off.
The battery charges in two hours with a 240-volt charger or 14 hours with a 120-volt charger with the ability to schedule charging to take advantage of off-peak rates. Regenerative braking that converts kinetic energy to electricity while you’re driving lets you recharge on the go and reduces the need to revert to the gas engine if the battery runs dry.
The 8.4-inch Uconnect screen shows exactly how the hybrid system is operating when you select the Hybrid Electric Pages option. Power flow, driving history, and charging schedule are all there so you can see how efficiently you’re driving. A unique Pacifica Hybrid instrument cluster also lets you know how you’re doing minute-by-minute so you know if you’re driving in electric mode or hybrid mode.
The base Premium starts at $41,995 or you can opt for the Platinium and get extra amenities and more luxurury for $44,995. An available federal tax credit of $7,500 brings the base model down to $34,495 and state and local incentives can bring that number down even more depending on where you live.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid finally gives minivan drivers the hybrid choice that has long been absent from the market. A comfortable ride and fantastic fuel economy along with numerous safety and convenience features make it an attractive choice for busy families.