The intent: Chrysler built a plug-in hybrid electric minivan, the first ever minivan with this kind of powertrain. The Pacifica aims to provide top utility and efficiency over the competition in this guise, and in Platinum trim it also happens to deliver remarkable luxury.
Base Price: $46,090 As-Tested Price: $47,885
Our take: In our crossover-crazed world, Chrysler refuses to give up on the minivan. Their efforts have paid off with the remarkable Pacifica Hybrid, a blend of comfortable, luxurious accomodations and smooth hybrid efficiency.
The space in the back with everything folded away is enormous.
The execution: Since minivans are practical, drive well, and, in the Pacifica’s case look good, I frankly don’t understand why consumers don’t want to be seen in one. I especially don’t get it where the Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid are concerned. I hear the same reasons you do, over and over: They’re not cool, they’re mom mobiles, they don’t drive well…the list goes on. None of that is true and the Pacifica Hybrid proves it (though it’d be hilarious if an automaker came out with a minivan and called it the Stigma).
As we said about the gasoline-powered Pacifica, what we have here is quite possibly the best-driving minivan on the market. Damning with faint praise? Not in this case. The interior is comfortable, well built and huge, enveloped by a body sitting atop the company’s new and much stiffer Global Large Vehicle Platform. The suspension, MacPherson struts in front and rear twist blade, improves tremendously both side to side and fore and aft body motions compared to previous Chrysler minivans, while soaking up Detroit potholes smartly. As minivans go it’s borderline responsive.
Just how efficient is the hybrid system? Chrysler says total system horsepower is 260 hp and is good for 80 MPGe, the “e” a measure comparing gasoline, hybrid and electric modes. I’ve been getting about 36 miles on electricity alone around town and haven’t exactly been light-footing it; a hypermiler could clear 40 easily. Fully juiced and full of fuel the van can go 566 miles, Chrysler says.
The Pacifica Hybrid glides around silently and smoothly, especially considering everything going on underneath: The battery sits under the floorboards, and it’s a big one — 16 kWh of lithium ion, as big as the battery in a pure-electric Mitsubishi iMiEV. Chrysler says the van can be recharged in two hours on 240 volts, and the only drawback is that the second-row seats no longer fold into the floor since that space is taken up by cells. The battery powers two electric motors augmenting the 3.6-liter V6 Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine. Compared to the non-EV Pacifica this V6 lacks a bit of low-end torque for efficiency’s sake but the electric motors make up for it. The power goes through Chrysler’s electrically variable transmission, called eFlite, to the front wheels. The system is seamless and there are no decisions the driver needs to make. You don’t switch in or out of EV mode or any other mode actually – the powertrain takes care of it all.
Overall I personally think the Pacifica Hybrid is the perfect road-trip/stuff-hauler. It also qualifies for the Fed’s $7,500 tax credit. Winning!
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $46,090
As Tested Price: $47,885
Drivetrain: 3.6-liter Atkinson-cycle V6, electric motor, CVT automatic
Output: 220 hp (V6 engine), 260 hp (combined system); 235 lb-ft (combined)
Curb Weight: 4,987 lb
Fuel Economy: 84 MPGe; 32 mpg gas only combined(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Options: Tri-pane Panoramic Sunroof ($1,795)
Pros: Beautifully equipped, efficient people hauler
Cons: Loss of Stow ‘n Go second-row seats due to battery
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