Leave it to Chrysler to come up with a first. A pioneer of the minivan segment more than four decades ago with the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, the automaker debuted in 2017 with the Chrysler Pacifica — the world’s first gasoline plug-in hybrid minivan. The result has been a big seller from day one.
A 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar gas engine is coupled to two electric motors, one of which serves as a generator and the other delivers torque. The rechargeable 16-kWh lithium-ion battery in the second-row floor enables the Pacifica to go about 32 miles on pure electric. Pumping up the battery via a 240-volt charger takes just two hours. On a full battery and gas tank, you can go well over 500 miles. All in all, its total horsepower is 260, plenty to cruise the highway or speed up in rush-hour traffic. The electrically variable transmission in the front-wheel-drive minivan is up to the job.
Our high-end Pinnacle model showed off a black-front, 3D-diamond-styled grille with platinum chrome surround, flanked by bifunctional LED projector headlights, daytime running lights and fog lamps. But it is for interior amenities that people will buy this minivan. Forget Stow ’N Go for the second row (though the captain’s chairs easily slide), but the third-row bench does power-fold into the floor. For extra gas savings, keep a close eye on the digital information display of battery charge, engine power and fuel gauge readings. Laudable are the convenient driver and passenger-side power-sliding doors for easy ingress/egress. And, of course, storage compartments thrive in the Pacifica, offering 140.5 cubic feet with both rear rows folded and 32.3 cubic feet behind the last row.
During long family trips, tiny tots in the rear seat can be entertained via two 10.1-inch touch screens (plus a FamCam that offers a bird’s eye view too). Other goodies include tri-zone auto AC, eight-way power front heated/cooled seats, power lift gate, quilted caramel Nappa leather seats, 10.1-inch Uconnect for infotainment, suede headliner, dual panoramic sunroof, integrated and flowing floor console and a tilt/telescopic leather steering column.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for all three rows, front knee airbags and active head restraints, lane departure/forward collision warnings, electronic stability/traction control with brake assist, four-wheel antilock brakes, blind-spot monitor with rear-cross detection, 360-degree camera, front/rear and hill-start assists, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian emergency brakes, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
While by no means a bargain at a steep $60,345, the Pacifica plug-in hybrid should attract families looking for a safe and solid ride, people- and cargo-hauling capability and mainly substantial fuel savings at the pump.