By on April 5, 2019

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Hybrid

3.6-liter V6 (estimated 260 horsepower)

Electrically variable transmission with dual-motor drive

84 MPGe combined/32 MPG combined

2.8 Le/100km. 7.3 city, 7.2 highway, 7.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $44,495 (U.S) / $58,940 (Canada)

As Tested: $48,580 (U.S.) / $61,775 (Canada)

Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 to $2,695 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Today’s crossover craze may be in part a rebuke of minivans, but that hasn’t stopped Chrysler from putting effort into the class.

After all, if the company that more or less invented the modern version of the people-toting minivan was offering up a subpar effort in the class, that wouldn’t reflect well on it. Chrysler doesn’t have to worry about that, as its Pacifica minivan has fought the Honda Odyssey for top billing in the class seemingly since its launch.

One thing the Pacifica offers that the Odyssey doesn’t? A hybrid version.

Since minivans are often considered for long road trips, and since long road trips are better when fuel stops are fewer, I was happy to be in possession a Pacifica Hybrid for a trek from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan and back last summer.

The hybrid powertrain mates a 3.6-liter V6 to a single-electrically variable transmission, which uses two electric motors that are capable of driving the van’s wheels. The lithium-ion battery pack is 16 kWh, and the total system output is an estimated 260 horsepower. Chrysler promises an electric-only range of up to 33 miles on top of the 566-mile fuel range.

Minivans aren’t especially svelte, and that’s true of the Pacifica. Acceleration is fine for around-town driving, but freeway passes must be planned out.

The Pacifica Hybrid handles like a van, too. That means a bit of body roll, plus artificial steering (which, at least, offers a firm feel).

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Not surprisingly, the highway ride is a tad floaty, but just a tad – Chrysler keeps things mostly in check, and a long freeway stint isn’t uncomfortable.

Despite the hybrid powertrain, I did not get all to the way to Ann Arbor and back without having to fill up, though the hybrid’s behavior can be praised for it seamlessness. The plug-in Pacifica returns 84 MPGe combined or 32 mpg combined when gasoline-only.

While I never carried more than a single passenger during my time with the van, I felt that asking random families to borrow their children might be a bad idea; however, I’ve spent enough time riding in the second and third rows of Pacificas (Fiat Chrysler loves to use them as shuttles at media events, for obvious reasons) to know it’s relatively roomy back there, even for adults. I’m long of leg, and the second row has never been uncomfortable. I can even maneuver myself into the third row for short trips.

Looking over the options list of this particular tester, perhaps being in the second row is preferable to driving. Not because driving this minivan sucks – it’s probably tied with Honda’s Odyssey for best driving dynamics in the minivan class – but because there are available seatback video screens to gaze upon, dual HDMI ports, wireless headphones, Blu-ray/DVD player, and remote control. Needless to say, the driver can’t partake in that passive entertainment. Then again, dodging slowpokes on I-94 is entertainment enough.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

At least drivers and front-seat passengers get premium audio, Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment, and Apple Carplay and Android Auto to play with.

Other available features included power sliding doors, power tailgate, keyless entry, remote start, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, cooled front seats, satellite radio, front and rear park assist, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, parallel/perpendicular park assist, forward-collision warning plus, lane-departure warning plus, and panoramic sunroof. My tester rode on 18-inch wheels.

Few minivans are sexy, but the Pacifica manages to look inoffensive at least. Chrysler designers didn’t try to be funky, but rather try to make a bland design look as attractive as possible. They mostly succeeded. This Pacifica dons PHEV-specific fan-blade wheels to alert onlookers to the presence of a hybrid.

Inside, the large dash has a two-level center stack with rotary shifter, and the gauge cluster brackets an information center with two analog dials. Like the exterior, it’s a bit of a bland look, but it’s functional, and that’s what matters the most. Two-tone coloration helped liven things up.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

I can’t imagine spending nearly $50K on this thing if I didn’t plan on road-tripping much – the gas-only Pacifica would suffice. But a 570-mile promised range is nothing to sneeze at, and the van is a pleasant road-trip companion. I’d prefer a little more passing power, but for a relaxed cruise, the Pacific Hybrid is just fine. Especially when you factor in all the little storage nooks and crannies typical of a minivan.

Minivans have their uses, and cross-country cruising is one of them. Hybrid or not, the Pacifica is a fine choice for the long haul.

[Images: © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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33 Comments on “2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited – Long-distance Hauler...”

  • avatar

    On the highway, the Hybrid version returns approximately the same fuel mileage as the regular gasoline Pacifica once the battery is down to it’s lowest permissible state of charge. So I wouldn’t buy it as a highway road tripper. Where it shines is in urban to suburban commutes where the all electric range is useful and regenerative braking is plentiful. In that cycle the benefits are really evident.

    • 0 avatar

      Was thinking the same thing. I guess everyone has their preference but for me, I’d only opt for the hybrid if most of my driving was around town.

    • 0 avatar

      An ICE is best in steady state, and an EV in acceleration. Even on the highway you have to accelerate – I’m guessing it helps there – though not as evident as in the city.

    • 0 avatar

      This is something FCA really dropped the ball on. The 2011-12 Chevy Volt operated just like the Pacifica hybrid in that there was no control over ICE/EV operation; Volts in those first two years always drain their battery first, then switch to ICE operation.

      It was the biggest complaint from those first Volt owners, too, and the third year (and, presumably, all later) Volt offered the driver a menu option to force a switch between ICE or EV operation. In effect, someone who knew they would be taking a long highway trip, could ‘save’ the traction battery for urban driving, and use the ICE exclusively on the highway.

      It’s baffling that FCA didn’t research this aspect of the Volt and offer the same toggle on the Pacifica hybrid for the most efficient highway (ICE)/urban (EV) operation. It’s almost as if they simply took the operating software from a first year Volt and transferred it, verbatum, to the Pacifica.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “So I wouldn’t buy it as a highway road tripper. Where it shines is in urban to suburban commutes where the all electric range is useful and regenerative braking is plentiful. In that cycle the benefits are really evident.”

      +1……and 33 miles of range is pretty good. Would have been nice if the test had included some specifics about what he actually got “real world” for EV range.

    • 0 avatar

      The seats in the PHEV have more padding since they don’t have to fit in the floor where the batteries are now located. If you take adults on road trips with you it may be worth it for the better seats. Otherwise, the gas only one does pretty well. At least the rental we had did well.

  • avatar

    The emphasis on road trips in this review is puzzling. Hybrids mostly focus on improving fuel economy around town, and don’t help much for a road trip.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, it sounds like the majority of the road-test was nothing more than a round-trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor and back. That’s a bit disengenuous and the author is quite correct in that if that’s ‘all’ you plan on doing is taking long road-trips, the extra cost for the hybrid (which really isn’t much with the $7500 federal tax credit) isn’t really necessary.

      But who only takes long-road trips with a minivan? It’s unfortunate there wasn’t a bit more on urban, around town driving (and the plug-in aspect of offering zero gas consumption).

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “But who only takes long-road trips with a minivan? It’s unfortunate there wasn’t a bit more on urban, around town driving (and the plug-in aspect of offering zero gas consumption).”

        Agree. Pretty disappointing review. Not sure why he even bothered.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim Healey

        Just had very little time with the van around-town, and no easy chance to plugin.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      You’re generally correct, but one of the selling points of this particular plug-in is the long range. When I think of range, I think of distance between fill-ups, and a round-trip without a fill-up would’ve been nice. Should’ve been doable, given the distance.

      I simply didn’t have much chance to drive around-town by my house, or to plug-in.

  • avatar

    I replaced a 2012 Ram 1500 that averaged about 15mpg with a 2018 Pacifica Hybrid, it averages about 70mpg if calculating just using gas and not accounting for the fifteen or so extra in electricity it costs me to charge it every month. It would do even better except I take one long trip a month and loose the electric advantage. I took a trip to Florida last week and got 28.2mpg running all interstate with the adaptive cruise set at 79 miles per hour. That was with one passenger and about 300 pounds of luggage. I’ve been very happy with this purchase.

  • avatar

    Eh I though the advantage would be bigger.

    The regular one is rated at 28 mpg highway and has a 19 gallon tank meaning a 500 mile range is possible.

  • avatar

    A review from someone without passengers i.e. children, etc really doesn’t make for an excellent review. With passengers and cargo, the ride and performance is much different and a minivan is used much differently than say a GTI. Just my .02 cents.

  • avatar

    Soooooooo observed MPG?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    If I had a large family, this is exactly what I’d buy.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a largeish family, and there are two Pacifica Hybrids that have been sitting on the lot at my local Chrysler dealer for months. I bet I could drive a hard bargain on one of them

      There’s a good chance that both my wife and I will get raises in the next few weeks, and so swapping the Mazda5 for one of these might be a good fit.

      The confound is that the 5 of us could just fit into a Model Y, so I have to decide if holding out for the Model Y makes sense.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Good review.Although I think all hybrid reviews should mention if the regen brakes feel weird , and if the CVT rubber bands alot.

    • 0 avatar

      Since the electric motor can move the car up to highway speeds, I would expect a consistent response (minimal rubber banding) — unless you smash the go-pedal into the floor.

      The last plugin hybrid I drove (Honda Clarity PHEV) had this behavior. It was a clutched serial hybrid (like the Chevy Volt), and it has what felt like a switch at the bottom of the gas pedal’s travel which changed the behavior from “drive like a regular car with some mind toward efficiency” to “dump as much power as possible into the wheels”. The switch had enough resistance that you wouldn’t trigger it accidentally, and that’s when I started feeling the rubber band effect.

      The Pacifica Hybrid’s drivetrain has the architecture of a big Prius (PSD), rather than a serial hybrid architecture. But, since the computer figures out how to balance the torque coming in on either side of the PSD, the car will only rubber band if the software engineers who wrote the code decided to make it rubber band.

      I expect the Pacifica to drive like a big Prius. As a former Prius owner, that’s a good thing doe me.

      P.S. The serial hybrid architecture is much simpler than the Prius-style architecture. But, then again, the Prius-style architecture is mechanically simpler than an automatic transmission (the complexity goes into the software).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It’s a hybrid, but you only mention *once* that it’s a *plug-in* hybrid.

    Where did you plug it in, how long did it take to fill, how did it behave when discharged vs full, and how did it affect fuel economy? How many actual miles did you achieve in town on battery only? Was it pleasant or scary to drive in EV mode?

    The plug is the only distinct feature of this Pacifica variant, but you neglected to describe what it’s like to live with. Anyone can own a plain hybrid, but a plug-in is a bit more like an EV, and needs to be plugged in to see the advantage.

    It seems like more was said about the infotainment stuff than the behavior and value of the plug-in hybrid feature.

    • 0 avatar

      It takes about twelve hours on 110 and about two hours om 220 volts. Some stores offer free charging while you shop. I can’t tell any difference in power from fully charged or battery discharged. It has very strong pickup at lower speeds. I have over ten thousand miles in seven months.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I had no chance to plug in. I live in a building with a communal garage, and while plugging in is possible, it’s a pain and I sometimes just don’t bother with PHEVs.

      To be fair — that’s part of the review that I should mention (the difficulty of charging in some places). I’ll try to do better with PHEVs going forward.

  • avatar

    They should have put in it some VM Motorized 4 cylinder diesel engine from Europe, then we could talk about a hey cruiser, 600 plus mileage. With the right diesel engine this vehicle could achieve over 40 mpg hwy without much drama.

    • 0 avatar

      A diesel would give better mileage but the fuel costs much more than gas in some places. And I think a diesel on top of the hybrid system would just cost too much and would drive people away from buying it.

      An Atkinson cycle gasoline engine is a good compromise and still gives plenty of power people are used to when the battery is drained.

      • 0 avatar

        When I was saying my now-wife, I owned a 2001 VW Jetta TDI. We lived 300 miles apart and we got together every weekend, and so we put a lot of miles on these cars.

        When we merged households, we kept the Prius and sold the TDI. The TDI was one of my favorite cars ever, but this was absolutely the right decision.

        The argument that a small diesel is simpler than a Prius only applies to highway driving, and is mostly theoretical anyway. The reason is that, in 2001, VW was building complex diesel cars with crap reliability. There are a surprisingly large number of failure-prone parts in the VW TDI architecture which cost $3k to replace: the transmission (which got me — 5 times, 3.5 times of which were under warranty), the injector pump, the turbo, and anything damaged in belt failure.

        I spent $7k to maintain my VW over the 18 months I owned it, while my wife just took her Prius for a dealer oil change a couple of times. Prius wins.

        Also, the Prius is efficient on the highway, because Toyota designed an efficient car AND THEN put the hybrid in it. It’s also efficient around town. And it’s even efficient at the actual tasks you use a small car for, because of great interior space utilization. Prius wins again, and again, and again.

        The only thing it didn’t do well was match bumper heights with the Silverado which hit it, after 12 years of ownership. The Jetta isn’t any taller, and so the Silverado would have totaled it too. This is a tie.

        As much as I loved my Jetta, our Prius was just a better all around vehicle. The Jetta TDI was a driver’s car, and the Prius was an owner’s car — but I’m a car owner, so this matters.

        The idea that a diesel is just as good as a hybrid on highway trips is great in theory. But a sh!tty implementation is more than enough to tip the balance. If Toyota had made the diesel, and VW had made the hybrid, the victor in my “controlled test” would still have been the Toyota — because Toyota builds cars which don’t fall apart on American highways.

        How will Chrysler’s machines fare? I don’t know. Given their lackluster reliability ratings, applying the German Car rule may make sense: never own one out of warranty. Unless the car is going to be your hobby, of course.

  • avatar

    Just rented a 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan. Terrible for large, young families. Since the interior setup is probably identical seat-wise, Chrysler minivans should be absolutely avoided if you have more than 2 kids in car seats. Not bad for the 2nd row captain chairs, but trying to get a kid in the back seat is almost impossible. To begin with, you can only fit one FF car seat back there, and it overlaps the 60 part of the seats. If the car seat was any larger, it would overlap the 40 seat as well. Secondly, the storage compartments hang down far enough that my 5yo bangs his head every time he tries to get in his seat. And ingress and egress for me after bucking in said 5yo is a (back)pain. We have three kids (1, 3 and 5,) and have an easier time getting them into my work car, a 2019 Camry.

    I had mild hopes for the van when we rented it – and it failed miserably. Maybe it’s okay for adults, but for kids in car seats, it’s atrocious. (Note: I’m a car seat technician, so my views and experience may not reflect the average user.)

    • 0 avatar

      I have three kids (9, 4, almost 2), and I’ve been puzzled by cars like the Ford Flex which have similar problems.

      What I’ve realized is that a lot of vehicles are explicitly designed for buyers with, either older kids, or a wide distribution of ages.

      My 9yo and my 4yo can both buckle themselves in, and so the poor 3rd row access in a vehicle like the Flex would be mostly a non-issue for me now. But, when I had a 5 year old and a 2 year old, I just left the 3rd row folded down half of the time, because getting them buckled into the 3rd was a chore. When the 3rd one was born, the big kid had to sit in the back and buckle himself — which meant he had to go in before the bucket seat. It worked, but it involved a lot of sequencing, barking orders, contortions, and double checking the kids buckles.

      I wish I knew what the actual design criteria was for each family vehicle on the market. What kind of family do they think will fit in? I suspect that the families with older kids buy them new, since the parents are farther along in their careers — and so that’s who they actually design these things for.

      • 0 avatar

        Minivans are still the best, but they have a learning curve for every member of the family — and the 3rd row access could be better, especially for large families with small children.

  • avatar

    FCA can’t even execute engine stop-start. I’d steer clear of their hybrid.

  • avatar

    We had a rental and the stop start was seamless in it. When you stopped you couldn’t tell when the engine was off and as soon as you lifted your foot, you could tell the engine was starting, but it didn’t have any shudder or shake. I had heard all the bad stuff about Stop/Start and would have avoided it until I drove one for a few days.

    In the MT article it sounds like a different issue than Stop/Start since it was a leak elsewhere and some slow to work on the vehicle dealership mechanics.

  • avatar

    The point of a good PHEV is that you can plug it in and use no gas at all for your daily commute or family taxi chores. Sure, the ability to operate as a conventional hybrid boosts MPG and range a bit on the highway, but that’s not the main attraction.

    Of course, many PHEVs aren’t good — those from the European manufacturers in particular tend to be weak and cynical engineering efforts with short electric range that’s hardly worth plugging in for, and weak electric motors that can’t tolerate more than the lightest throttle without firing up the infernal combustion engine for help, etc.

    The Pacifica Hybrid isn’t one of those. It’s a legitimately good car. You get 33 miles of electric range, and you can get at least halfway through the gas pedal before the dino burner comes on line. All wrapped up in arguably the nicest minivan you can buy at any price, especially in top trim.

    Unfortunately it’s developed by FCA (meaning computer code may be half-baked) and serviced by FCA dealers (meaning service may be half-assed). That’s not an inconsequential combination. Recently a recall for one minor issue became infamous when, between sloppy work on FCA’s part and incompetent execution by FCA dealers, implementing it caused some customers’ vans to catch fire when the gas engine kicked on later. I wish I was making this up.

  • avatar

    Why do you review this garbage?

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