2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited - Long-distance Hauler

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

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).

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.

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.

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]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • HotPotato HotPotato on Apr 09, 2019

    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.

  • Doug Dolde Doug Dolde on Apr 20, 2019

    Why do you review this garbage?

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.
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