A hybrid minivan? I was surprised when I first learned about Chrysler‘s plans to not just end of life the Town & Country (our first minivan, many years ago) but to take all that the company learned about minivans and modern family vehicle life and produce the Pacifica instead. First Pacificas off the line were back in 2004, but that wasn’t quite the same thing. It’s with 2017 that the Pacifica has become that oddest of creations, a luxury minivan. Yes, I said it.
And here’s what’s most impressive; it’s a really sweet ride. Add the hybrid system and it’s a big, powerful, comfortable and surprisingly fuel efficient family vehicle that can easily double as a vehicle for driving around the band and their gear too. The hybrid is a plug-in style so to get the maximal fuel efficiency you’ll want to at least charge it overnight each night, but that’s a small price to pay for a vehicle of this size that averages over 40mpg.
Your fuel results will vary, of course, but it can drive purely on electric for about your first 30 miles and for many people, that’s a full day of driving. I know that my typical driving has me travel less than 20 miles from morning until night, well under its limit. As with all hybrids, however, you can top it up at any station if you can find a charging unit, and that 220V is significantly more efficient than 110V, a factor of at least four.
But let’s look at some photos, shall we? To start, here I am plugging it into the charging unit at the local shopping mall:
Since it’s a hybrid it also requires gasoline for the engine, but you might find that tank of gas lasts you a ridiculously long time depending on your driving, driving style and ability to find charging stations on your daily route. Tip: You might have to push all those fancy Teslas out of the way to get to a plug! 🙂
Chrysler uses the Uconnect app to give you a remote connection to your vehicle on your smartphone, and the app becomes fantastic when you’re using a hybrid as it can remotely display the charge level. Hit 100%? Time to move out of the charging spot and let someone else have a turn. It can also show you how much range you have left with the current charge, as shown:
Note that you can remote start the vehicle from the app and that it also logs location every time you park too. All handy in the one app. Very nice, very futuristic.
In fact, much of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has a futuristic feel to it. Check out the dashboard:
Weirdly, my camera had a really hard time focusing on the display screens. Apologies for their blurriness, but note that the rest of the image is indeed in focus. No explanation.
Like most Chrysler vehicles, there are secret channel and volume controls behind the steering wheel cross-bars, and like all of them, the channel up/down is incorrectly implemented. If I have favorites set up, I believe it should move me up and down my favorite channels, but it just goes +1 and -1 which is annoying with a service like XM Radio. Volume works fine, though 🙂
Chrysler has also really optimized storage and space in the Pacifica and there are more places to stash things than I’ve seen in any other vehicle, including a really nice catch-all tray at the very bottom of the console system with a 12V and USB connector designed for devices left on the floor. After driving cars where there isn’t even space for a pack of gum, a vehicle with too much space is an interesting experience.
As a mini-van, space is the name of the game, of course, and you can see in the above photo, there’s plenty of space for 7 with the two rows of so-called captain’s chairs and the bench in the back. Note also the display screens flipped up for the second row passengers. Handy if you want ’em, my druthers is to omit this sort of device from a vehicle since most passengers already have tablets or smartphones, but plenty of families appreciate this addition.
What you can’t see in the above photo is the rather amazing sunroof. Check it out:
To say it’s big isn’t to begin to describe the huge panoramic sunroof that offers lots of sunlight to everyone in the vehicle. Necessary? Nope. But darn nice as a way to avoid the “you’re in a box” feel of many minivans in this category.
The exterior is, well, a minivan, but Chrysler’s done a nice job of making it look reasonably sleek and streamlined:
I liked the light design on the front and back too. Again, very modern, definitely not a forgotten part of the manufacturers lineup like some other minivans on the market.
So how’d I do after a week of driving the hybrid? A week of having fun driving, actually, including some pretty aggressive accelerations as the CVT transmission gives you oodles of power from a stop. The car can show me the fuel usage data too:
Not too bad at all: The green is electric and the blue is hybrid. On four days, I didn’t use any gas at all, and even on Friday, when I drove the furthest, it was still 46mi on gas hybrid versus 59 on electric.
All in all, I really enjoyed the heck out of my week with the Pacifica Hybrid. After driving the $50K Toyota Sienna van that was tired and desperately in need of a refresh, the lower priced Pacifica with all its hybrid tech and futuristic dash design was a breath of fresh air and reminder that a minivan can actually be a fun vehicle too. Definitely worth checking out – particularly with the hybrid additions – if you’re in the market for a transport vehicle for your family or crew.
AS DRIVEN: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum, 3.6 liter V6 eHybrid engine with eRite EVT transmission with tri-pane panoramic sunroof: $47,885.
Disclosure: Chrysler loaned me the vehicle so I could write this review.