2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
For 35 years, the minivan represented the pinnacle of practical family transportation. It was Chrysler that introduced us to this type of vehicle with the Dodge Caravan and the Plymouth Voyager. Not only were they seen as the best solution for families to travel together, but they saved the company from oblivion.
Today’s minivan might not be the big sellers for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. However, the company continues to build them with the latest design, engineering and technology. Their latest minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica, embodies the latest and greatest of the vehicle type. This includes offering the only minivan with a plug-in hybrid driveline.
We wanted to see how the minivan has evolved over the past 35 years. Therefore, we had a chance to drive a 2019 Pacifica Hybrid to see this progress in family transportation.
The Pacifica has a very distinctive look among minivans. There are shapes in the windows and all around that distinguish the Chrysler above the rest. The Pacifica shows off a front quarter glass for better front corner vision, a reverse slant far rear side glass, and horizontal taillights.
The Pacifica Hybrid adds a different grille texture than its V6-powered siblings. Our Limited tester added the S Appearance Package, which turns anything chrome to black. The young folks call this the “murdered out” look. We like how custom the overall finish turned out – as if someone added aftermarket wheels and a paint job.
As dramatic as the outside, the cabin takes a huge leap forward in design and comfort. Our tester came with a seven-seat configuration, with the third row folded into the floor through the Stow’n Go system. It will provide a flat floor all the through the back of the second-row seats. On normal Pacificas, the second row can also be folded into the floor for a completely flat space. On the Hybrid, the battery pack just happen to reside underneath the second row.
All three rows offer adult-size accommodations. Access to the third row is very easy with a quick release of each second-row seat and two power sliding doors for ease of entry and exit. Front row occupants are treated to comfortable and supportive bucket seats. Choosing the SV Appearance Package gives all three rows nice black leather upholstery with the “S” stitched into the seats and white piping. Storage is abundant with small little cubbyholes down the lower center tack and on the floor in-between the front seats, along with sliding storage places and so forth. The Pacifica is designed to take everything with you on any trips, including your work commute. And, there is a place for anything.
The Pacifica now has perhaps the best instrument panel in the minivan segment, anchored with excellent and concentrated controls. The transmission is controlled by a knob, while the electronic parking brake is a push button, all on the center stack. Capping the center stack is the new 8.4-inch UConnect touchscreen, offering access to UConnect Apps and a multitude of audio playback options. Instrumentation includes a customizable information screen in-between the speedometer and tachometer.
And, then there’s UConnect Theatre, the next level is rear seat entertainment. They can connect game consoles, playback BluRay discs and choose any of the onboard loaded games through two 10.1-inch high definition screens on the back of the front seats.
The big twist is what lies underneath the hood of the Pacifica Hybrid. First, there’s FCA’s Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, which is attached to two electric motors, a Lithium-Ion battery pack, and the Eflite Variable Transmission. Total system power is rated at 260 horsepower, though it feels as it has a lot more performance to offer than that. Not only is this a powerful and efficient driveline, it’s very quiet to run. So quiet, people can actually think or play with the UConnect Theater.
For the Pacifica Hybrid’s system, the electric motors take priority above the gasoline engine, as long as the battery is charged. A fully charged battery can drain within 33 miles. On a 240-volt Level 2 charger, a full charge would take about two hours. Chrysler also claims a maximum combined range of 566 miles. Our Pacifica Hybrid tester averaged 29.8 MPG.
The Pacifica Hybrid delivers a superior ride quality with absorbent suspension all around to ensure that it drives along without any negative feedback from the vehicle. Although handling is quite decent, some roll and lean is evident, but the low and central position of the battery pack keeps the Pacifica Hybrid from wallowing about.
Cornering is excellent, even with an electric power rack-and-pinion steering set. The turning radius is very sharp for a 203.8-inch minivan making quick work of tight maneuvers. Steering action is good on-center with great response from its thick-rimmed wheel. Brakes are good with a solid feel at the pedal. For a Hybrid, the Pacifica yielded solid stops in both normal and panic situations.
The Pacifica Hybrid starts with a base price of $39,995. Our Limited with S Appearance Package tester came with a sticker price of $50,375. The non-hybrid Pacifica starts at $26,985.
There are only a few competitors among minivans these days. Toyota’s Sienna, the Honda odyssey, the Kia Sedona, and FCA’s Dodge Grand Caravan are easily comparable to the Pacifica. You could also add the Ford Transit Connect wagon to the mix, but no other minivan has a hybrid option. For family space, others have compared the Pacifica with large SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, and Ford Expedition.
If your family have children who are growing and need that space to make sure they’re comfortable, the minivan is your best solution. If you want one that can deliver of fuel economy, advanced technology, and technology, look no further than the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors