While minivans will never be considered sexy, reviewers say that the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is the most elegant midsize van available. It uses sleek lines where it can—taking some design cues from the latest wave of crossovers. The Pacifica uses lightweight materials to reduce weight by about 250 pounds compared to its predecessors. The plug-in variant is identical to the gas and hybrid versions, except for the charging port positioned in front of the driver’s door.
The Pacifica Hybrid combines a 3.6-liter V6 with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) plus two electric motors—one basically with the engine and another one at the wheels—to generate 260-horsepower performance. Utilizing a one-way clutch system, there is great flexibility to use the motors in various ways. Notably, they can work together to deliver power and torque—with the solid 3.6 V6 engine joining in at any point in the drive cycle. Chrysler says the vehicle is whisper-quiet in all-electric mode, but the gas engine is barely noticeable when it joins up for propulsion. The plug-in Pacifica can travel in electric-only mode all the way to 120 miles per hour—if you use a steady foot.
The hybrid Pacifica gets up to 80 MPGe, according to Chrysler. The Pacifica uses a 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack to provide 33 miles of all-electric range. Combined electric-plus-gas range is 560 miles, the automaker claims. Overall efficiency is projected at 80 MPGe—a huge improvement over modern gas-only minivans, whose combined EPA ratings peak in the low-20-mpg range.
The Pacifica-with-plug fully charges in about two hours when a 240-volt supply of juice is supplied to the onboard 6.6-kW charger. Plug in to a standard 120-volt outlet and expect a charge from empty to full to take 12 hours. Sorry, no Quick Charging, which isn’t really essential considering the relatively small battery pack that can be filled in two hours via a Level 2 charger.
The Pacifica has the largest total interior storage space in the minivan market, although this version of the minivan seats seven (not eight). Due to placement of the battery, the plug-in hybrid doesn’t have the Stow N’ Go seats that fold into the floor. Yet, the seating is highly configurable with second-row captain’s chairs, and the rest of the cargo features—lots of bins, pockets and hooks—is intact. The Pacifica comes with a full range of cutting-edge features, including a modern infotainment system (with premium audio) and built-in vacuum cleaner. A seven-inch color information display and 8.4-inch touchscreen allow the driver to access navigation. Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity are standard.
Safety ratings are not yet available for the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid. Yet, there will be a safety package that includes a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control with stop and hold, cross-traffic and lane-departure alerts; and forward-collision warning.
Pricing for various trim levels of the gas-powered Pacifica ranges from $28,000 to $42,000. While the sticker price for the plug-in hybrid has not been announced, we expect a premium of as much as $7,500 to $10,000 compared to the conventional version. That added cost will likely be negated by a federal text credit of $7,500, plus local and state incentives.
Comparisons with Similar Vehicles
The quality and design of Chrysler’s minivans used to lag behind those found in the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. The 2017 Pacific changes that. Its spaciousness, adept handling, powerful V6 engine, and updated styling have earned critical praise. The availability of a version that can plug in—and thereby double or triple efficiency—is a potential game-changer for the minivan market.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is expected to go on sale in December 2016. It will be available in dealerships in all 50 states.