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2017 Chrysler Pacifica

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Minivans are the most useful vehicles on the planet, all about moving families and cargo in comfort. But the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid takes a tack toward convenience and frugality.

This new entry – the first of its kind in the minivan category – is a bit less useful than its standard gasoline engine counterpart, owing mainly to the requirements of building a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

That’s correct. The new Pacifica Hybrid is of the plug-in variety with a 16-kilowatt-hour battery that enables the nearly 5,000-pound minivan to travel up to 30 miles on pure electric power and recharge in as little as two hours.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica HybridThat’s with a 240-volt charger, which the owner would have buy separately, although the Pacifica has the built-in hardware to use it. Most standard 120-volt household outlets also work, but it takes 14 hours for a full charge from “empty.”

EPA fuel economy numbers will not be available until closer to the on-sale date, which is expected early in 2017. Chrysler estimates it will earn an 80-mpg equivalent in city driving.

To enhance the all-electric range, the Pacifica incorporates regenerative braking, which sends electric energy back into the battery pack.

Because it’s a plug-in hybrid, the new Pacifica eliminates range anxiety. On a trip, as soon as the battery is depleted, the system switches seamlessly to the gasoline engine. That results in an estimated 530-mile range. The operation is similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt, an extended range electric.

“It’s all about making your life simpler,” according to Matt McAlear, Chrysler’s senior product manager. He said that if family members kept their travel to less than 30 miles in a day, they never would have to stop at a service station to refuel. Simply plug it in overnight.

However, the engineers have thoughtfully included sensors that detect when gasoline in the tank is more than 90 days old, in which case the gasoline engine runs automatically to use up the possibly tainted fuel.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid cutawayThe 350-pound battery is stored under the second row of seats. It eliminates Chrysler’s famed stow ‘n’ go feature, which allows the second-row seats to be easily stashed under the floor.

To ease the loss, the Hybrid comes with plush captain’s chairs that have more padding than the thin stow ‘n’ go seats. But the downside is that they must be physically wrestled out of the minivan if there’s a need to maximize the cargo area. Also, the Hybrid is not available as an eight-passenger minivan with a second-row bench seat.

The Pacifica’s hybrid system uses a V6 gasoline engine in concert with two electric motors integrated into the gear-driven continuously variable automatic transmission. Some other hybrids use one electric motor as a generator while the other sends power to the wheels. On the Pacifica, a one-way clutch allows the second motor to also send power to the wheels as needed.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The gasoline-electric system delivers a total of 260 horsepower. Chrysler officials were reticent on questions of how much torque the system delivers. Torque is a measure of twisting force that translates into a strong surge of power.

Because electric motors produce maximum torque instantly when the throttle is pressed, the Pacifica Hybrid has robust acceleration off the line. It feels a bit less after the gasoline engine kicks in.

Except for instrumentation needed to communicate what’s going on with the hybrid system, the new Pacifica Hybrid has all of the same features that made the original, introduced earlier this year, the new benchmark for minivans.

Among them: First minivan with hands-free power sliding side doors. Very convenient. Simply touch a button on the outside door handle and the door slides open. Touch it again and the door closes. No jerking of handles. The side doors are made of aluminum, also used in the hood and tailgate for reduced weight and better fuel economy.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Other minivan “firsts” include an electric parking brake, unique 20-inch alloy wheels, rotary shift knob (eliminates shift levers), 10-inch touch screens for second row passengers, and wireless connectivity for devices.

The new Pacifica Hybrid doesn’t come cheap. But Chrysler emphasizes that it qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit. There are two models: Premium at $43,090 and Platinum at $46,090, including the destination charge. An optional three-pane panoramic sunroof costs $1,795.

Potential buyers will have to weigh that and the loss of the stow ‘n’ go seats against the Hybrid’s considerable advantages.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum four-door minivan.
  • Engines:6-liter V6 with dual transmission-mounted electric drive motors; total system 260 hp. Torque rating not disclosed.
  • Transmission: Continuously variable gear-driven automatic.
  • Overall length: 17 feet.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 165/32 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,943 pounds.
  • Estimated EPA fuel consumption: combined 80 mpg equivalent.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $46,090.
  • Price as tested: $47,885.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

Photos (c) FCA.

 

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Three decades ago, Chrysler invented the minivan and triggered the doom of the big American family station wagon. Now they’re back with the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which won’t visit Armageddon on anything but should chip away at the establishment.

The design places it in the vanguard, epitomizing the state of the art. It’s short of a revolution because it’s still a minivan, a vehicle that has diminished in popularity but captivates a stalwart band of customers, though overall it is not discovering any new frontiers.

Still, the Pacifica boasts three dozen “firsts” for minivans, which arguably are the most useful passenger automobiles on the planet. A few of the “firsts” are a bit duplicative of other vehicles (like a heated steering wheel) but many do not invite argument.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica HybridAmong them: First minivan with hands-free power sliding side doors. Very cool. Simply touch a button on the outside door handle and the door slides open. Touch it again and the door closes. No jerking of handles. By the way, the side doors are made of aluminum, also used in other body areas for reduced weight and better fuel economy.

Another: First minivan with second-row Stow ‘n’ Go seats that tilt for access to the third row without the need to remove a child seat. (Some crossover SUVs also have seats like this but they’re not stow-able).

This deserves a mention. Chrysler minivans are the only ones on the market with Stow ‘n’ Go second row seats that fold easily under the floor. It’s a difficult engineering feat but in the new Pacifica the engineers actually designed the tub into which the seats fold in a way that strengthens the entire body structure, contributing to rigidity and improved handling.

A cute first is the “Are we there yet?” navigation app, obviously for the kids. It operates like those screens on airliners that show you exactly where you are, and how many miles and how much time is left on your trip. It likely won’t shut up the sprouts, who will find another way to annoy the adults.

Other minor minivan “firsts,” some standard, others optional: electric parking brake, nine-speed automatic transmission, 20-inch alloy wheels, rotary shift knob (eliminates shift levers), 10-inch touch screens for second row passengers, wireless connectivity for devices, and dual-pane panoramic sunroof with fixed glass for the third row.

You could also describe the tested Pacifica Limited as a convertible. Almost anyone can quickly stow the two second-row seats, power fold the third row and the seven-passenger minivan becomes a panel truck with a flat floor and 141 cubic feet for cargo.

The Pacifica replaces the Town & Country in the scant Chrysler lineup, which includes the 200 and 300 sedans. It’s likely to get lonesome for awhile because of reports that Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Chrysler chief, plans to bag at least the 200 in favor of new crossover SUVs, currently the hottest vehicles on the market. The Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, which is being carried over unchanged, also is a candidate for extinction.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica
2017 Chrysler Pacifica

One question involves the name, which Chrysler used from 2004 to 2008 years on a wagon-like vehicle similar to the Mercedes-Benz R-Class. That was when Chrysler was married to Mercedes, before the divorce that eventually led to the assignation with Fiat. Though that Pacifica was summarily dropped, the Chrysler folks said the name was familiar to potential buyers and carried little negative baggage.

It’s coming just in time. Sales of the Town & Country and its sibling, the Grand Caravan, dropped precipitously between 2014 and 2015 while the establishment leaders—the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey—saw decent increases.

The Pacifica delivers handsome new styling both inside and out, more resembling a luxury crossover than a traditional minivan. Interiors, especially on the tested top-line Limited model, which featured mocha leather seats and dashboard trim, would not be out of place on luxury cars with six-figure price tags.

There are five Pacifica models, starting with the $29,590 LX and topping out at $43,490 for the top-of-the-line Limited, the subject here. With options, it had a bottom line sticker of $47,150.

For its intended use as a family traveler, the Pacifica displays solid road manners. On the highway, the interior is serene and quiet with minimal intrusion of wind, mechanical or road noise. The ride is supple without being cushy, and the Pacifica tracks cleanly on the highway without inducing driver fatigue.

The competition is formidable. But the Pacifica displays all the right stuff.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica HybridSpecifications

  • Model: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited four-door minivan.
  • Engine:6-liter V6, 287 hp, 262 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic.
  • Overall length: 17 feet.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 165/32 cubic feet (88, 141).
  • Weight: 4,330 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/28/22 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $43,490.
  • Price as tested: $47,150.

Read Jason’s take on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. 

Photos (c) FCA North America

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Test Drive And Review

by Jason Fogelson

It’s not all sports cars and motorcycles for me. No, sometimes I get to test out the latest in minivans, too.

I actually love minivans. The first brand new car I ever bought off of a dealer’s lot was a 1984 Toyota Van. After two years at graduate school in Boston, I decided to move back to Los Angeles to start my career. I went to the local U-Haul location, and discovered that they wanted $1,300 to rent me a beat-up van for the one-way trip. Right next door, the Toyota dealer was in the middle of a big sale. I wandered the lot, and tripped across a totally stripped down Toyota Van. It was set up as a cargo van, completely empty inside except for a driver’s seat. It didn’t even have carpeting or sound insulation — just bare metal, fixed windows in back and a hole where the radio should have been. I took it for a drive, and really liked it. Best of all, I was able to buy it with $800 down, and the dealer talked me into adding one accessory: A $170 front passenger seat. That Toyota Van got me, my cat and all of my stuff across the country safely, and was my daily driver for the next several years.

I’ve transitioned from that minivan to SUVs over the years, but I still remember how much I loved the space, maneuverability and low center of gravity that characterized my Toyota Van.

GM and Ford have abandoned the minivan market over the past decade, but Chrysler has stuck with it. The Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country remain in the lineup, both essentially unchanged since the early 2000s. Honda’s Odyssey and Toyota’s Sienna minivans, and to a lesser extent Nissan’s Quest, have continued to push the form, and have left the GC and T&C behind in terms of refinement and technology.

Now, Chrysler has developed an all-new minivan, the Pacifica, riding on an all-new platform. It will c0-exist with the GC and T&C for a while, and then will become the sole minivan offering from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

I drove the new minivan at a launch event recently, and returned with this 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Test Drive And Review for Forbes.com.

Photo (c) FCA North America

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