4010 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting



2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

Among the questions expecting parents can anticipate, aside from the usual inquiries into the baby’s gender and potential names, is, “are you going to trade in your car and get a minivan?” For quite some time, the act of trading in the trusty Miata or Wrangler for a “dull” van is seen as confirmation that new parents are firmly committed to their kids, putting themselves in the automotive penalty box by sacrificing driving pleasure for a kid-friendly cry for help.

But the Chrysler Pacifica, which first hit the market as a crossover in 2004 before being taken out of commission in 2008, hit the scene again in 2017 to replace the Chrysler Town & Country and has since threatened to destroy that notion. It’s racked up countless awards in the short time it’s been out, not only for putting the fun back in parenting but for delivering the utmost utility and doing the job it’s designed for, carrying lots of people, remarkably well. But Chrysler has taken its minivan a step further by introducing a plug-in variant, and we were lucky enough to borrow one for a week in order to see if it was any good.

Pacifica Hybrid Exterior

All Pacifica hybrid models feature similar styling to their non-hybrid counterparts, save for the eHybrid badging. Standard design elements include quad-halogen headlights, LED daytime running lamps, and LED taillights. 17-inch polished aluminum wheels are standard on the Touring Plus and Touring L trims, while the range-topping Limited features 17-inch alloys in a different design with 18-inch wheels optionally available on the Limited only. Chrome detailing and chrome roof rails are standard on the upper two trims, while only the Limited receives chrome side mirrors. The Limited also has the option of a tri-pane Panoramic sunroof. The available S Appearance Package adds Black Noise finish accents and unique 18-inch wheels.

Dimensions

Borrowing from the regular Pacifica’s platform, the Pacifica Hybrid bears similar dimensions in most aspects. It rides on a 121.6-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 203.8-inches. It measures 79.6-inches wide and 69.9-inches tall without the roof rack. The Hybrid boasts ground clearance of 5.1-inches – not exceptional but not really any less than the rest of the segment offers. Where the Hybrid and non-hybrid Pacificas differ is their curb weight, however, with the addition of a floor-mounted battery pack and electric motors pushing the weight of the Pacifica Hybrid up to 4,943 lbs from the 4,330 lbs of the regular Pacifica.

Exterior Colors

All three Pacifica Hybrid trims feature the same available color palette comprising ten hues. This is up from the eight available on last year’s model, with favorites like Ocean Blue Metallic, Velvet Red Pearl, and Dark Cordovan Pearl carried over. Two new options for the 2019 model year are Luxury White and Maximum Steel and all colors are available at no extra cost.

It’s usually the case that hybrids look great in an electrifying shade of blue, and despite its name, “electrifying” happens to be exactly how Ocean Blue Metallic can be described. Our Pacifica Hybrid Limited wore this color well and stood out when lit up by the bright Arizona sun. Despite its subdued black interior, our Pacifica’s S-Line package added comfortable Nappa leather seats with white stitching and “S” logos on the front seats, sprucing up the cabin and making it feel more comfortable on long drives.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review: Putting The Fun Back In Parenting

Pacifica Hybrid Performance

No one will ever remember the Pacifica Hybrid for its performance stats, and why should they? The Pacifica Hybrid exists for the sake of exceptional fuel economy. But in adding a battery and electric motors, the additional weight has hampered performance significantly. The 600 lbs of additional weight result in an 8.5-second 0-60 mph time, compared to the rather sprightly 7.5-second time it takes the standard Pacifica to reach the same mark. It’s understandable not just because of the additional weight of the Hybrid, but because its combined power output is lower than that of the standard Pacifica. The 3.6-liter V6 Atkinson Cycle engine and two electric motors only generate 260 horsepower compared to the 287 horsepower generated by the less efficient V6 in the standard Pacifica, accounting for the deficit in performance. Being front-wheel drive only doesn’t aid performance, however, only the Toyota Sienna offers an all-wheel drivetrain. While we’re sure the Pacifica Hybrid can tow, Chrysler hasn’t rated it’s towing capacity, suggesting it’s incapable of matching the 3,600 lbs of the standard Pacifica.

Engine and Transmission

Beneath the hood of every Pacifica Hybrid, Chrysler equips a 3.6-liter Atkinson Cycle V6 engine. The Atkinson combustion cycle loses power to aid efficiency, but the deficit is made up for by two electric motors augmenting outputs, bringing the total horsepower figure to 360 hp. Power is directed to the front wheels (though an all-wheel drive version is in the cards) via an electronic CVT transmission in place of the nine-speed unit on the standard Pacifica.

The Pacifica does many things well, but among its star attributes is its powertrain. Whether accelerating quickly or at a more gradual pace, the hybrid system smoothly balances power delivery so that the electric motors’ low-end torque and the gasoline engine’s high-end pull don’t feel like two separate forces. The engine can sound coarse when idling or under hard acceleration, and some of its vibrations do make it into the cabin, but overall the hybrid and gasoline propulsion systems feel tailored and work well together. The CVT transmission means that the engine can exhibit a droning sound when climbing a mountain or trying to pass someone on the highway, though.

Unlike some plug-in hybrid vehicles, the Pacifica Hybrid has no pure electric mode or a brake regeneration system strong enough to enable single-pedal driving. However, the minivan will only kick on the gasoline engine once the PHEV battery is drained or when a driver needs to accelerate faster. Otherwise, the electric motors are capable of handling most driving situations, even allowing trips at highway speeds without the gasoline engine turning on.

Handling and Driving Impressions

The most surprising thing about the Pacifica Hybrid is how fun it is to drive. Yes, it’s cumbersome, it exhibits plenty of body roll in the corners and features steering as numb and detached as you’d expect from a hybrid minivan, but there’s something about the cab-forward driving position and the Pacifica’s ride that makes it a joy to rack up miles with.

The dark magic to credit here is the Pacifica’s smoothness. Even with the added weight of the PHEV battery, the van’s relatively mild overhangs translate to a long wheelbase. Combine that with a suspension system that’s pliable but stays close to the road and you get ride quality so smooth that it feels like the Pacifica is perpetually gliding over a layer of silk.

And the Pacifica is easily controlled, too. While the suspension means that road undulations and pavement imperfections can be driven over rather than steered around, the minivan’s steering is quick to respond to inputs, though a balanced on-center point means it’s easy to keep straight on the highway. A tight turning radius allows the minivan to make U-turns on two-lane roads without going into reverse, though the 3.13 turns lock-to-lock mean there’s a lot of cranking involved during the maneuver.

Overall, the spirit of the Pacifica is one of ease. Not much thought has to go into driving because this hybrid minivan turns most jobs-merging onto the freeway, navigating tight city streets, and even climbing winding mountain roads with tight corners-fairly easy with the expectation that drivers will have some attention diverted to noisy kids in the back. Nowhere is this summed up better than when descending the above-mentioned mountain road after a weekend camping trip, though, because simply twisting the Pacifica’s gear knob into Low mode is all it takes to keep speeds mild enough for stable cornering without burning up the brakes. That’s less work than it takes in an S-Class, where you have to use the paddle shifters and stay focused on what the engine and transmission are doing to descend.

Pacifica Hybrid Gas Mileage

The Pacifica Hybrid’s pièce de ré·sis·tance is in its extraordinary mileage estimates, and being the only hybrid minivan around it’s a key selling point. On gasoline alone, the Atkinson cycle engine and CVT transmission combine for an EPA-rated 30 mpg, significantly better than the standard model’s 22 mpg. However, when the electric drive is brought into the mix, the Pacifica Hybrid is claimed to achieve 82 MPGe. With a 17-gallon gas tank capacity, the Hybrid can achieve a claimed 520-mile range on a full tank, while it boasts 32-miles worth of electric-only range. On a stage two charger, the 16kWh battery pack can be recharged fully in about two hours.

While the Pacifica Hybrid’s EPA-estimated mileage sounds fantastic on paper, buyers should be aware that getting near that 30 mpg combined rating requires active participation in the plug-in hybrid lifestyle. Because of the Pacifica’s aforementioned shortfall, the inability to choose whether to drive it in a battery-saving hybrid mode or a pure electric mode, our tester arrived to us with an empty battery after traveling 100 miles to reach us from its home base. Since it was left parked in an apartment garage or at a campground during our weekend adventure, there were no opportunities to charge the battery, so we ended our weeklong fling with the Pacifica averaging only 24.4 mpg. We did, however, get to charge the battery to around 80% after descending 10,000 feet in low-range mode, though the climb to get there in the first place put a dent in average fuel economy.

Pacifica Hybrid Interior

The Pacifica Hybrid trades on many of the same elements that endeared us to the standard Pacifica, giving buyers a high-quality cabin with great practicality and an abundance of technology and comfort features. Comfortable with a good driving position and solid ergonomics, it’s a relaxing place to be. However, there are a few caveats, and as in the standard Pacifica, third-row seating isn’t as generous as the Honda Odyssey. There’s still seating for seven, however, unlike the standard Pacifica, the second-row seats aren’t able to Stow ‘n Go like the standard model by virtue of the battery pack being mounted in the floor space. It might lose out marginally on practicality, but for a comfortable, high-quality interior with three-row seating, the Pacifica Hybrid is still a top offering.

Seating and Interior Space

The Chrysler Pacifica’s hallmark feature is, of course, its roomy interior, which is designed to pack an entire soccer team or members of the extended family inside. Unlike a large 7-seat SUV, the Pacifica can fit seven in comfort since the lack of wheel arches and a transmission tunnel means legroom and headroom aren’t cut down as you move into the rear third-row seats. The front two rows are the most comfortable given that each of those seats is a captain’s chair, with the driver and front passenger’s seats given armrests to make up for the low center console and the center-row seats boasting armrests on either side. With ample storage space for gadgets and personal items, plenty of charging ports, and enough room for the driver and passengers to avoid feeling confined, the Pacifica remains the perfect car for the quintessential American road trip.

Interior Colors and Materials

Our tester came fitted with the best material and interior color scheme possible for a minivan: upscale-feeling Nappa leather seats that are easier to clean than cloth seats, which are then colored black as an added tool to aid the fight against stains left by young backseat passengers. White stitching on the seats comes courtesy of the S Appearance package and gives the Pacifica’s interior a classier look, but the optional Tri-Pane Panoramic roof helped the dark cabin look less stuffy when the weather outside is gorgeous. But even though the seats felt nice, and though buttons on the dashboard and storage cubby lids are stout and glide smoothly, many of the plastic interior trim panels feel cheap and can even rattle on bad roads.

Pacifica Hybrid Trunk and Cargo Space

Minivans are renowned for their ability to seat seven or more and their versatility when it comes to cargo volumes, and the Pacifica Hybrid is no different. Behind the third row of seats, you’ll find 32.3 cubic feet of storage space – enough for two large suitcases and several duffel bags, while stowing the third-row sees that figure climb to an impressive 87.5 cubic feet. Even without the Stow ‘n Go functionality of the second-row seats, maximum cargo volume behind the front-row is a pleasant 140.5 cubic feet, matching that of the regular Pacifica. Overall, storage is less than the best in class, but the Pacifica is by no means found wanting.

Small item storage is particularly exceptional, with a center console accommodating large water bottles, boxes, and packets of snacks, and phones, keys, and wallets with ease. There’s a large glove box too, and smaller storage pockets can be found in abundance throughout the cabin, as can cupholders and magazine slots.

Pacifica Hybrid Infotainment and Features

Features

The Pacifica Hybrid boasts only three trim lines, but they’re the equivalent of top-end models on the regular Pacifica line-up and are well-equipped as a result. There’s standard power eight-way adjustment for the driver’s seat, with front passenger power adjustment added at the Limited level. Heated front seats are equipped from the Touring L, while ventilated seats are added to the Limited. Tri-zone climate control is standard, as is a reverse camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and cruise control, while a power liftgate is an available option. A heated steering wheel is equipped to the Touring L and Limited models, while a panoramic sunroof is available on the top-of-the-line Limited as well. The best driver aids are the reserve of the Limited and include standard adaptive cruise control, while optionally you can get a 360-degree camera, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, front and rear park sensors, and parking assistant, while standard on all trims you’ll find blind spot monitoring and rear park sensors.

Infotainment

The latest version of Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system is fairly easy to use. Its 8.4-inch screen responds to commands quickly, and the fact the screen is positioned so it’s easy for the driver and front passenger to reach makes adjusting settings a breeze. Uconnect does make it easy to navigate through crucial menus quickly by placing static menu buttons at the bottom of the screen (like Ford’s SYNC3 does), but finding more obscure settings takes parking the vehicle since options are organized on the screen like apps on a smartphone, only in a more cluttered way. Thankfully Apple CarPlay and Android Auto help reduce headaches. Whether playing songs via Bluetooth or the radio, our tester’s optional 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system ensured that occupants anywhere inside the car can hear the music clearly.

Pacifica Hybrid Problems and Reliability

To date, there have been limited reports of issues from Pacifica Hybrid owners, but several have reported issues with the engine stalling whilst the vehicle is moving. There has been one recall, however, affecting 2018 models in which the suspension may disconnect from the suspension increasing the chances of a crash. Chrysler covers the Pacifica Hybrid under a standard three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty, a ten-year/150,000-mile battery warranty, and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The Pacifica Hybrid didn’t give us any mechanical or technical problems during our week with it, but we did note a few quality concerns. They stemmed from the fact that there were many places in the cabin where the plastic trim felt loose or didn’t seem to match up correctly. At worst, it caused rattles on bad roads, which felt out of place considering how smooth the Pacifica rides. At one point, we even stopped to search for the source of an annoying rattle and discovered that the rearmost shade on the tri-pane panoramic sunroof, which is the only manually operated shade, was very hard to lock in the closed position because of a poorly-designed latch.

Pacifica Hybrid Safety

The NHTSA and IIHS have not specifically tested the Hybrid version of the Pacifica, however, the standard Pacifica minivan scored highly, achieving a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA while taking top honors as a 2019 Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

Key Safety Features

Contributing to the high safety ratings of the Pacifica Hybrid are a range of standard and optional safety features. Standard features include a rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a full suite of eight airbags (dual front, front side, three-row side curtain, and driver and front passenger knee airbags). Adaptive cruise control is standard on the Limited, while optionally, a range of assistance features include a 360-degree camera, full-speed collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Additionally, park assist is available on the Limited trim.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid a good Minivan?

The one Pacifica attribute we kept marveling at throughout our week with its Hybrid version was how fun this minivan was to drive. It’s not just the fact the driver sits far to the front of the car that changes the experience, it’s the way the Pacifica just seems to glide around surface streets making every maneuver and by extension, every trip, feel easy. But that’s the icing on the cake. The best part about the Pacifica is, of course, how much utility it offers. Packing the hybrid up for a camping trip at the end of a long week took no effort, even though the battery pack keeps the second row from stowing and going like the third. Replace sleeping bags, tents, and camping stoves with people and the effect is still the same: getting around feels easy and better yet, fun. The added extra is the fact that those wanting to keep their carbon footprints low can make sure to charge the Pacifica up every night and bask in the glory of all-electric transportation.

What’s the Price of the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid?

The cheapest Pacifica Hybrid is still relatively expensive, priced at $39,995 before licensing, tax, registration, and a destination charge of $1,495. From there, the mid-spec Touring L carries a base MSRP of $42,195, while the Hybrid Limited is priced from $45,545. Local state and dealership incentives are also available, however, including up to $2,500 off in California, while up to $7,500 tax credit can be applied for as well. Other incentives include use of the HOV lane, even when riding solo.

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