2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid review with video

The basics: 

Starting price: $51,445 + tax
As tested: $56,595 + tax
Fuel economy over a week: 4.8 L/100 kms (49 US MPG)
Competition: Chevrolet Equinox Diesel, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, etc.

You know, even when I first started this channel three and a half years ago, getting into a plug-in hybrid was a novelty. We didn’t see them that often. And in that short time frame, they are becoming more and more of an every day sighting. Something not quite so common? The plug-in minivan. In fact, there’s only of them. Now, when we tested the conventional all gasoline Pacifica a couple years back, we liked what we saw… a versatile yet good-looking interior, a bit more pep than we expected, and top safety marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But it was thirstier than we’d hoped, we averaged a hefty 10.9 L/100 kms over a week of driving. So if fuel economy is a key consideration for you, perhaps the Pacifica Hybrid is worth a look… that is, if you’re willing to swallow the $15,000 price differential. To help you weigh out that fairly significant jump, we spent a week in this fuel sipping family hauler and here’s what we found out.

Pros:
– You know a car offers something new and special when you have a hard time even coming up with a feasible competitor to compare it to. The Pacifica Hybrid really is on its own little island. Because it is incredibly fuel efficient while still have the exact same dimensions as we see in the more typical Pacifica
– That means second and third row seating is roomy and comfortable for everyone from new borns to tall adults like me. Every one of the seats back there has easy to access car seat anchor points. And our rear facing car seat test came back with a luxurious 32 inches from the back of the front passenger seat up to the glovebox – those are the same numbers we saw in the new Honda Odyssey earlier this month
– Now, when I say that the starting price is much steeper than the regular Pacifica, that’s true. But it’s also true that the conventional gasoline version starts at a lower trim level with fewer standard features. In the hybrid, trims are paired down to a trio of more upscale options
– All trims come with the same powertrain – a 3.6 L V6 engine coupled to a hybrid system and an electrically variable transmission. Plug the Pacifica Hybrid into a wall socket and it can travel up to 53 kms on strictly electric range. Once that’s depleted, it acts like a typical hybrid – plowing braking forces or even extra coasting power back into the battery packs
– With the batteries totally drained, we’ve still managed an impressive 7.6 L/100 kms. But combine our strictly electric drive times as well and that takes us up to an amazing 4.8 L/100 kms – which is totally unheard of in a hulking minivan of this size
– Despite this being a minivan AND a hybrid, which really sounds like the kiss of death for fun-to-drive factor, it’s actually really quite athletic. Its responsive, has a nicely weighted steering feel, it doesn’t feel like it’s body rolling its way through corners… Devon and I both really quite like it
– And that carries over into the cabin – the seats are best in the class hands down, Chrysler has really piled on the noise baffling and cancellation technology for a decibel reading at a very premium 60 decibels at 100 kms/hr this week, fit and finish is good and there are tonnes of clever storage bins and nooks for all your stuff
– The optional UConnect Theatre system in the back is also pretty untouchable – not only can it play bluray or HDMI movies – but there are two separate screens for both of the second row passengers – which means each of them can do their own thing, or challenge each other to a variety of in-house games
– While I can fault the Pacifica Hybrid for little, niggly things (see below), the big picture on this van is damn impressive
– Here we have nearly 2,500 litres of cargo capacity behind the second row seats and comfortable seating for seven with ground breaking fuel economy and a dare I say sporty driving feel

 

Cons:
– With a starting price at over $51,000 Canadian, you can get a lot of luxury SUV for that money. But Chrysler often deeply discounts their cars – which should help take the sting off, provided you do your due shopping diligence
– It is a little slow to charge. You’re looking at around 14 hours with the supplied level one charger that you can plug into a typical household outlet. So I’d suggest having a more heavy duty, level two charger because it bumps charge time down to around two hours
– One feature that’s missing from the Pacifica that we’re seeing in the likes of the new Ford Expedition or VW Atlas, is a second row seat that can flip forward for easy access to the third row, even when a car seat is installed
– But you do get captains chairs in the second row of the Pacifica Hybrid, so there’s still a pass through in the middle of the van – but perhaps a bit more of a pain for third row access when car seats are in
– These captains chairs also mean you only have seating for seven rather than eight if you had a bench in the second row
– But one feature that really separates the regular Pacifica from the competition is the Stow and Go second row. You can flip those second row seats into the floor in that version of the car, which is a super handy feature. Here in the hybrid, Chrysler had to carve out room for all the battery cells and they put them under the second row – so if you want to get rid of the second row for more cargo space, you’ll have to awkwardly unlatch them, haul them out of there and carve out space in the garage for storage
– The gear shift is a dial. It’s annoying for quick shifts while you’re doing a four point turn or parallel parking
– While the front row ventilated seats are a nice touch on the Limited trim we tested, the perforations carry over to the second and third row, too. That’s a big mistake for a family-framed minivan. Those perforations are brutal for cleaning up messes and defeat the easy wipe-down benefits of going with leather in a family car
– And speaking of the ventilated seats, there are a lot of features buried in sub-menus on the Pacifica’s infotainment system screen. Yes, fewer buttons on the dash make for a cleaner interior look but hunting down simple functions like turning on the heated seats or syncing the climate control zones – shouldn’t be so multi-stepped
– Even top trims of the Pacifica Hybrid don’t have LED headlights. Instead, we have halogens that just don’t cut it for night driving these days
– While the regular Pacifica can tow up to 3,500 pounds, the hybrid has no tow rating at all

Family Wheels report card:
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 4.5/5 (60 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 41/50= 82%

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