The family minivan is falling out of favor as the popularity of SUVs and crossovers soar, but don’t count it out yet. There’s still no other vehicle quite so tailor-made for family life, and as the first-ever hybrid minivan, the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid offers plenty of perks families will love.
The Pacifica minivan made its debut for 2017 as an all-new model after the Chrysler Town & Country was discontinued the prior year. It’s not the same minivan refreshed. The Pacifica is entirely new. It’s also not like the Pacifica SUV, which was produced from 2004 to 2008.
It’s a solid new entry in the minivan segment, but what makes it a true standout is the plug-in hybrid. It gives the Pacifica an all-electric range of 33 miles and an EPA-estimated 84 MPGe, which makes it a money-saver on family road trips. Total combined gas and electric range is 566 miles, so you’ll be stopping for bathroom breaks long before you need to stop to refuel.
When you do stop, it takes two hours to fully charge the battery at a 240-volt outlet. The Pacifica Hybrid can also be charged at a 120-volt outlet, but it takes 12 hours so it’s not an ideal solution. Overnight, however, that will work out fine.
There are three available trim levels starting with the base Touring Plus at $39,995 and topping out with the Limited at $44,995. Before you balk at the increase in price over the gast-powered Pacifica, there are two things to consider.
First, there’s a federal tax credit of $7,500 and additional state and local credits depending on where you live. Second, the base model hybrid sits in what’s essentially the middle of the gas-powered Pacifica range, so it’s a fully-featured choice.
The ride in the Pacifica Hybrid is smooth and quiet, so the kids might claim they can’t hear you in the back, but the reality is they’re just not listening. Road and wind noise stay outside, so you only have to deal with the noise from the kids, which is more than enough.
Handling is good, but you won’t forget you’re in a minivan. It’s not overly top-heavy, but it feels large, especially if you’re used to driving a smaller vehicle. What it doesn’t feel like is a hybrid.
Some hybrids have lackluster performance, but the Pacifica has plenty of power. This comes from a 3.6-liter V6 hybrid engine and a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack with 260 total system horsepower. It’s a quiet setup and it delivers ample power even for highway passing. The Pacifica Hybrid also gets top marks for having a smooth, quiet transition from the electric to gas engine.
There are a few sacrifices you have to make if you want the hybrid. You can’t get the built-in vacuum or second-row Stow ‘N Go seats. This is because the space under the floor where those seats stow instead houses the battery on the hybrid. There’s still good room for cargo overall, with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet behind the first row.
There’s also no second-row bench seat available. Instead your only choice is captain’s chairs, which are much more comfortable, but limit seating to seven passengers. Those aren’t big differences, but if storage is a priority and you need to carry eight, then the hybrid isn’t a great choice.
Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system features a large 8.4-inch touchscreen with a special hybrid section with information on how you’re driving. You can also see how you’re doing from one minute to the next right in the instrument cluster.
Also noteworthy is the Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment system. It keeps the kids entertained through two high-definition touchscreens that flip up on the backs of the front seats. The system includes built-in games and “Are We There Yet?” This nifty feature lets the kids know how far you still have to go and hopefully eliminates them asking you a few hundred times in five minutes.
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid finally gives families a hybrid minivan. It’s fuel-efficient, fully-featured, and priced competitively with similarly equipped minivans making it a great choice for busy families.