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Pacifica: Hybrid minivan puts Chrysler in bright spotlight

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The Chrysler Pacifica takes the minivan segment to another level of convenience, comfort and performance by delivering exterior style distinction that is exceeded only by its impressive performance numbers.

Saving a family hard earned dollars every day that it uses electric power rather than conventional gasoline makes the Pacifica a vehicle that pays for itself rather quickly. Add in the higher-level win for planet by not using fossil fuels and, for any size family, that has to be attractive.

Bragging Rights

The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid utilizes an eHybrid system. This pairs a 3.6-liter V6 engine with an eFlite single-electrically variable transmission (si-EVT) containing two electric motors that are powered by a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery. It’s a lot of tech to take in – but worth understanding, as it means the Pacifica can drive up to 33 miles on electric power only and an 84 miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) on the combined city and highway driving cycles.

Much of the time Pacifica families are tooling around it will be with the V6 engine and the electric motors working in tandem to provide 287 horsepower and 32 miles per gallon combined, which is amazing for a three-row vehicle, not to mention a full 566 miles of combined range.

Current Affairs

Charging up your Pacifica is a matter of time and money. If you choose, charging up with the standard Level 1 charger and a standard 120-volt outlet, Chrysler says you are looking at 14 hours. For plug-in hybrids I have tested, this is a pretty normal duration, but certainly not convenient. However, there is another option.

The upgrade Level 2 charger requires special installation at home, but the difference between the 120-volt and upgraded 240-volt outlet is worth every penny. The charging duration with Level 2 cuts down to two hours. The battery also gets a re-charge from regenerative braking, just like any other gasoline-electric hybrid.

Low and Center

One of the great benefits of the Pacifica’s battery pack is its placement in the bottom-center of the floor. This delivers a noticeable low center-of-gravity and it translates surprisingly well in the minivan’s exceptional handling, taking curves more like a sedan than a people-moving van.

One of the best parts about driving Pacifica, whether it’s on the highway or the road about town, is the ultra-smooth transition between electric and gasoline power. The hybrid Pacifica manages to get up to speed just as easily as any other minivan, it just burns less gas.

7-Person Space

Entering into the cabin of the Pacifica, you immediately notice the same flat loading floor, and voluminous cargo space. Of note for fans of the second-row Stow ‘n Go storage, it  has been replaced with the battery housing. It seems there is always a price for everything. The great part about not having the folding Stow ‘n Go seats is that they are more comfortable than non-hybrid Pacifica seats that must be foldable.

All Pacifica Hybrid are seven-person layouts only, with two bucket seats in the middle row and a three-person bench seat in the third row. Head and legroom in the second and third rows is very good and competitive with all the obvious players in the minivan space.

Pacifica Hybrid come in three trim levels: Hybrid Touring Plus, Hybrid Touring L, and Hybrid Limited. The Touring Plus starts at $39,995; Touring L starts at $41,995; and the top-of-line Limited comes in at $44,995.