A plug-in hybrid. I really love these crossover vehicles that give you all the benefits of an internal combustion engine, including range and the ability to fuel up and continue your road trip with a two minute pit stop in the middle of nowhere, plus the smooth drive and flexibility of electric too. Most plug-in hybrids are optimized for local driving, which is great right now because I find I’m not driving anywhere near as much as usual: The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has an electric-only range of 32 miles, which sounds really short, but if you analyze a typical day’s driving, you might be surprised that most people don’t go very far. In fact, some sites report that the average commute is 16mi each way.
What makes the Pacifica a great vehicle, though, isn’t just the plug-in hybrid and ability for you to use almost zero petrol on a typical day, but the fact that it’s a roomy minivan and luxurious too. When my kids are with me, there’s the usual argument about riding shotgun (e.g., front passenger) but with the Pacifica, the argument was about who got to be in the second row because that’s where the excellent entertainment screens are located. But let’s see some photos, rather than me just chatting about the vehicle!
Look closely at that exterior photo: There are two fuel ports! The front unit is for the charging plug and the back one (directly over the rear wheel) is for gasoline. Not that I ever fuelled up the entire week I drove the Pacifica, that is…
The Pacifica also has that typical big Chrysler front grill. A signature design element for the vehicle line, it looks good on this minivan.
But what about that entertainment screen? Here’s what’s on the back of both the driver and front passenger’s seat:
A music player, some built-in games, the ability to play a Blu-Ray movie (the disc player itself is in the front dashboard, so the kids need someone else involved to choose entertainment). Look on the right side too: Audio out for headphones (the unit includes optional wireless headphones too), HDMI in and a USB charging and connection port. This means that you could hook up a Nintendo Switch or even a Playstation 4 if you wanted. Careful, though, because you’ll end up wanting someone else to drive so you can be in the back seat!
Speaking of which, you can also fine-tune the environment in the back seats too, with this terrific controller that’s located above the rear passenger slider door. Yes, the kids will have to negotiate the temp, whether it’s a cold day or a hot one.
If we’re looking at the middle seats, it’s only reasonable to step back a bit further and see the full three row setup:
This is what’s known as a 2+2+3 configuration for 7 passengers. Need 8 seats? The Chrysler Web site offers a 2+3+3 configuration, but there’s some question about whether it is compatible with the hybrid option. If you have to choose, get a trailer for the spare kid, the hybrid’s that good! 🙂
Moving up to the front, it’s a very nice layout for the driver:
Only control that takes a bit of getting used to is the gear knob. Yes, the gesture to change gears is identical to moving to the next station on the FM dial. Fortunately in an automatic transmission it’s not like you change gears too often, but it’s… curious. Speaking of which, the Pacifica is a really nice drive with its variable transmission. Chrysler calls it the eFlite Si-EVT Transmission and it manages the power coming out of the 3.6L V6 eHybrid Engine on this model. As with all hybrids, there’s no distinct gear change points so the acceleration is smooth and powerful, whether it’s from a stop or bumping up to pass on the highway. Pretty darn fun for a minivan, really.
The gauge setup offers a bright, informative display:
Which brings us to fuel efficiency. Obviously, if you don’t drive too far, you can achieve almost infinite miles per gallon: I drove quite a bit and the gas gauge didn’t even bump down 10% during my week’s test drive. You can see above that I’m averaging 34.2 mpg, but that’s deceptive because as far as I could tell, I never left the electric side of the system. In the above you can see the remaining range of the electric hybrid system (5 mi) which produces a range of 464 miles, with 459 of them on gasoline.
A plug-in hybrid requires an external power source to recharge, and Chrysler lets the driver know the status in a variety of other ways. My favorite is the informational display shown as you go to turn off the car after a drive:
If I owned one of these, I would definitely invest in a 240V Level 2 charger. As you can see above, 37min with a Level 2 charger will get me back to full, while the equivalent charge will take 4 hours and 15 minutes on a regular 120V three-prong outlet. Effectively, for owners with 110/120V power in their garage, they’ll plug it in when they get home and let it charge overnight. Here’s what that charge unit looks like:
The charger has about a 20′ cable so I found it quite flexible for being parked in my driveway, plugged in to an internal outlet and the garage door down for the night (gently resting on the power cord).
We’ve spent a lot of time inside the vehicle. Here’s a rear three-quarter view:
Looks just like every other minivan on the road in many ways, but once you open up those doors, there’s no hiding all the luxurious appointments in this futuristic mini-van that combines the best of old-school gas engine, a plug-in hybrid and enough amenities that the kids, for once, won’t complain about those long road trip drives across the state. There’s a lot to like about the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited, and a price tag to match: As driven, this vehicle prices out as just a bit over $50,000. And it’s worth every penny if you want the flexibility and comfort.
2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited, Maximum Steel exterior, Black / Alloy interior with Premium Nappa Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats. 3.6L V6 eHybrid Engine with eFlite Si-EVT Transmission. BASE PRICE: $45,795. Optional Equipment Included: Customer Preferred Package 2EC (Emergency Kit Group, Advanced SafetyTec Group, Uconnect Theater with Wireless Streaming). Tri-Pane Panoramic Sunroof, KeySense. AS DRIVEN: $50,255.00.
Disclosure: Chrysler loaned me the Pacifica Hybrid for a week in return for this writeup. Thanks Chrysler!