Because of the number of electrified cars I’ve reviewed over the last few months, I’ve held conversations with curious family, friends and neighbors. From a VW e-Golf and Hyundai Ioniq, to a Toyota RAV4 hybrid, a BMW i8 and now a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, the questions about them generally revolve range and the impression that they must more less feel the same from behind the wheel in electric mode.
It seems that fears about potentially compromised utility with EVs have been put to rest. Never is truer than with the new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and this makes this car very important. The only other large electrified vehicles to have once roamed the Earth were the GM full-size SUVs (Yukon, Tahoe and Escalade) a few years back. The lust for utility vehicles will drive the demand for more and the Pacifica sets, in my mind, the stage for a hybrid Durango and possibly even a Grand Cherokee.
The other question that comes up is pricing. Many electrified vehicles are more expensive than their “regular” counterparts and this happens to be the case with Pacifica Hybrid. As long as there are provincial incentives however, this van is actually priced on par with competitors.
Designers have managed to blur the lines between utility vehicles, sedans and hatchbacks. They’ve found enormous success in doing so but there are two bodystyles that cannot be completely manipulated. One of them is pickups, and the other, minivans.
Having said that, the Pacifica is handsome enough, at least what lies behind the front grille. The Chrysler fascia has lost all appeal and I dare say it could be a solid thorn in the Pacifica’s side. I can easily imagine a Dodge crosshair grille flanked by resolute headlights up front. What a difference this would make. Honestly, the front end is far too “defunct” Chrysler 200 for my liking.
The remainder of the shell is fine. I do like the character line that shoots from front to back but once more, on an electrified vehicle, the allow wheel choice is poor. Thankfully, my tester is a Platinum trim and thus sports the prettier wheels.
The cabin is attractive. The dashboard could be lifted from said 200 but in this case, it works. The controls are well laid out and the various materials blend nicely into each other.
As a minivan, the Pacifica was never meant for performance or handling. Despite that, the base 3.6-litre V6, with its 287 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, is plenty gutsy for some spirited driving. The 9-speed automatic isn’t great but it gets the job done. The Hybrid also utilizes the Pentastar 3.6, albeit revised and upgraded, but it is mated to an electrically variable transmission (SI-EVT) that features dual electric drive motors.
A 16-kWh lithium-ion battery feeds the motors and contributes to the 260-horsepower total system output. The drop is power is not an issue. The extra torque from the electric motors more than makes up for it and the CVT expertly shuffles the power to the front wheels.
On a full charge, the Pacifica Hybrid provides a rated 53 km of pure electric range. During my time with the van, I easily reached this number, and without fuss. The trick was to set the transmission control wheel to “L” for maximum regeneration. Left in “D”, the charging aspect is far less obvious.
The sole issue here is the absence of drive modes does not allow the driver to preserve electric range. By default, the Pacifica runs on electric until depletion. This could be a reason why FCA notes in some literature that it is not necessary to plug in the vehicle to enjoy efficient driving. Relatedly, I’ve come to expect more brake regeneration options. Having said all that, I know that 99% of owner/drivers will roll the wheel into “D” and forget it. The other advantage to “L” is that it helps where the actual brake pedal is unpleasant. The top 2/3 of pedal travel are mush where little happens. Beyond that, the brakes kick in hard. Best to modulate carefully.
The ride is better than decent, and all minivan. Suspension travel is generous and, with the long wheelbase, translate into a generally smooth drive.
If there is no need for maximum space and comfort, then there is no need for a minivan. If these are important criteria to you, nothing beats the minivan. The Pacifica Hybrid Platinum is loaded with everything, namely power side doors and power hatch. These elements alone are worth their weight in gold.
When a third row of seats is required, again, no SUV matches the levels of room and comfort. I can get back there with ease and would be comfortable enough for a good haul. The second-row captain seats are excellent but because of the battery located beneath, the seats do not “stow&go” as they do in the non-Hybrid.
There are loads of cubby holes, drawers and pouches to store and knick-knacks and the like. You could potentially move into the van and eventually manage to lose something in it as you would in your house.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the most expensive minivan in the Canadian market. The base Premium trim goes for $52,495 while the tested Platinum sports a hefty $56,495 price tag.
Compared to the top Toyota Sienna Limited and Honda Odyssey Touring, the Pacifica Hybrid Platinum in $8k and $6k more expensive. Equipment wise, they all have everything, from a complete barrage of active and passive safety, to a rear entertainment system, leather, heated and ventilated seats, touchscreens, connectivity and more.
Depending on the Province you live in, incentive can range from about $5,000 to $14,000 and with them, the Pacifica Hybrid becomes a better deal, and value. Factor in some impressive fuel economy numbers (especially for urban commuting) and the Chrysler makes a world of sense.