For economical family transportation to some beach, it would be hard to choose better than the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Hybrid minivan.
How about fuel economy of 34 mpg going and coming in all traffic conditions? Chasing back and forth to supermarkets and shopping in the beach area without using any gasoline at all? That’s because this is a plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone.
So: Plug it into any 120-volt socket at the beach house and it will recharge the battery in about 12 hours, or overnight. If you have access to a 240-volt charger, the charging time is two hours.
If you locally travel less than 33 miles a day, you would hardly ever have to take Pacifica Hybrid to the service station to gas up. For that, the Pacifica’s engineers have 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 any possibly tainted fuel.
The EPA rates this Hybrid at 84 mpg equivalent on gasoline-electric operation, with an overall range of 566 miles. After the battery is depleted the gasoline engine starts seamlessly.
Then there’s the convenience that you can convey seven people with 32 cubic feet left over for luggage, beach umbrellas, coolers, chairs and the like. If only four of you go, there’s 99 cubic feet of stash space behind the second row and, if just two, a whopping 141 cubic feet behind the front seats. You can practically bring your own bed and rocking chair.
The Pacifica Hybrid is an offshoot of the critically acclaimed Pacifica from the manufacturer that invented the minivan back in the mid-1980s. It used to be called the Town and Country but Chrysler resurrected the Pacifica name for the 2017 all-new model, which came in standard and hybrid versions.
The tested 2018 Limited Hybrid is essentially the same but with upgrades, including a premium Harman Kardon audio system, revised center console, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and universal garage-door opener.
There wasn’t much to add because the Limited already was loaded with about every safety, convenience and comfort feature available on a modern automobile. That included Chrysler’s KeySense fob, which allows parents to set limits on top speed, radio channels and volume, and emergency thresholds for their younger drivers.
Other equipment, some standard and others optional: front collision mitigation; parallel and perpendicular parking assist; tri-zone automatic climate control; one-touch power side doors and tailgate; panoramic sunroof; adaptive cruise control; lane departure assist; blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert; UConnect streaming connectivity and entertainment system; SXM satellite radio, and 360-degree surround-view camera.
One curious omission: Although the owner’s manual listed memory seats and radio in the index, none could be found in the text or the vehicle itself.
About the only other feature not found in the Hybrid Pacifica is the gasoline model’s stow ’n’ go second-row seats, which fold into the floor to expand the cargo capacity. On the Hybrid, that space is taken up by the 350-lb battery.
To make up for the loss, the Hybrid comes with plush captain’s chairs that have more padding than the thin stow ’n’ go seats. But 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 gasoline-electric system delivers a total of 260 hp, enough for a vehicle that weighs nearly 5,000 pounds. Because electric motors produce maximum torque instantly when the throttle is pressed, the Pacifica Hybrid has robust acceleration off the line.
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 2017 original the new benchmark for minivans.
Among them: Hands-free power sliding side doors. 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.
Other minivan “firsts” included an electric parking brake, rotary shift knob (eliminates shift levers), 10-inch touch screens for second row passengers, and wireless connectivity for devices.
- Model: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited four-door minivan.
- Engine/motors: 3.6-liter gasoline V6 with dual transmission-mounted electric drive motors; total system 260 hp.
- Transmission: Continuously variable gear-driven automatic.
- Overall length: 17 feet.
- EPA passenger/cargo volume: 165/32 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,987 pounds.
- EPA fuel consumption: 84 mpg equivalent gasoline-electric; 32 gasoline only.
- Range on electric only: 33 miles.
- Base price, including destination charge: $45,590.
- Price as tested: $48,580.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.
Photos (c) FCA