Go home and mention to your spouse that you would like to buy a mini-van. If they’re practical, it might not be such a hard sell, but I suspect he or she will scrunch up their nose before shaking their head and walking off. Mini-vans usually aren’t very cool. But, drive the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and it will be time for an attitude adjustment.
33 Miles of Gas-free Driving
First, it’s a very high-tech machine. Fully charged, the van travels 33 miles on electricity before the 287 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine fires up to continue the fun for a total of 530 miles. Re-charge in 2 hours on 240v and expect 84-MPGe in city driving. You can even change the charging schedule and pre-condition the vehicle’s interior from your smartphone.
As in a typical electric car like a Tesla or Chevy Bolt, there’s nothing but silent smooth torque off the line. I drove over 30 miles, flexing my right foot thoroughly, before the gas engine perked up. Thump the throttle hard at any speed and you’ll awaken the engine early and often, but follow the “driving coach” in the instrument panel, gently apply regenerative brakes to replenish the batteries, and you’ll get what’s promised.
It’s quite a looker too. The Pacifica is a beautifully-sculpted people mover with grille shutters and under-body panels to aid aero, but look close at hybrid versions to notice the grille insert encompasses a wavy pattern instead of mesh, there’s a front fender door for the plug, specific 17-inch wheels look sleeker, and centers of the Chrysler winged logo are teal instead of dark blue. Arching bodylines, canted rear windowline, and deftly applied chrome project an upscale presence.
A Cabin Swathed With Artistry
Inside, it’s swaths of artistry and technology. Pacifica’s dash projects elegance with a crisp center touchscreen, swoops of contrasting colors on the dash and doors, piano black trim around climate controls, chrome gear selector knob, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Leather seats are comfy and stylish. When heated and cooled, they’re especially comfy. A twin-panel panoramic sunroof shines in.
Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system is about the world’s easiest to use. Summon navigation, climate control, and audio via touchscreen, voice, or redundant buttons beneath. You can direct-tune Satellite radio, or twirl through the stations with a proper tuning knob. Active noise cancellation hushes the cabin. Enhance safety with available 360-degree camera, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, forward collision avoidance, and Lane Keep Assist systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect iThings.
Family and friends will posh out in the back rows too, enjoying a sweet traveling companion or luxurious limo. Foot-swipe power sliding doors and rear hatch make entry easy while available twin seat-mounted video screens, dedicated climate controls, and vacuum to suck up your munchkin’s Goldfish and Cheerios – or your friends’ evening revenge – keep everybody fabulous. Third-row seats fold flat into the floor, but the middle row Stow n’ Go seats gave their ghost for underfloor battery storage. If you must haul gear, the twin captain’s chairs are fully removable.
Van vs. Crossover
Compared to most crossovers, the Pacifica Hybrid is a very competent performer. Chrysler developed an entirely new architecture for this van that squashes squeaks and rattles, but also provides European handling. It drives more like a large Fiat than smaller Ram ProMaster. I’ve driven it across Indiana prairie and down notoriously challenging Mulholland Drive in L.A. without ever putting a wheel wrong. On open freeways, the long wheelbase provides a smooth and peaceful ride for all.
I’ve tried to convince my aunt, friends, and even my husband to buy a Pacifica Hybrid to no avail. For a base price of $39,995, or $48,580 as-tested (before federal/local incentives), it is quite an efficient way to move families and friends. Competitors include the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, and all those big three-row crossovers.
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
- Seven-passenger, FWD Mini-van
- Powertrain: 287hp 3.6-liter V6,16-kWh li-ion batteries
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind Twist Blade
- Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy
- Brakes f/r: regen disc/disc
- Must-have features: Hybrid, Style
- All-elect. range: 33 miles
- Total range: 530 miles
- Fuel economy: 84 mpg-e city
- Assembly: Windsor, ON
- Base price $39,995/$48,580 (before EV credits)