Chrysler has introduced the first hybrid minivan for 2017 with the Pacifica Hybrid plug-in model.
Following in the steps of the all-new Pacifica, with unparalleled functionality, versatility, technology, and bold styling, the new hybrid adds a class-exclusive, innovative gasoline-electric powertrain.
The base Premium trim starts at $41,995, has leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-speaker auto system, power side doors and liftgate, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
The Platinum model, my tester, starts at $44,995, with upgrades to Nappa leather-trimmed bucket seats, heated/cooled front seats, a 13-speaker Alpine audio system, hands-free power side doors and liftgate. It also has a rear-seat entertainment system, heated steering wheel, navigation, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, 360-degree camera, active park assist, and adaptive cruise control.
Re-engineered from the ground up, the Hybrid rides on the lightest, stiffest platform in its class for class-leading ride and handling, plus reduced noise, vibration and harshness, less body roll and enhanced agility. Electric-only mode is rated for 84 MPGe, thanks to class-leading aerodynamics.
With the battery fully charged, the Pacifica Hybrid can travel up to 33 miles on electricity alone, after which the gasoline engine turns on to work in tandem with the electric motors. Standard 120-volt charging requires about 14 hours, while a 240-volt outlet will fully charge it in about two hours. Estimated total travel range is 566 miles on a tank of fuel and fully charged battery.
A specially modified, plug-in hybrid-specific 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine acts as a generator, while providing power to the wheels, using a reduced air-fuel mixture for maximum efficiency.
The Single Input Electrically Variable Transmission uses two electric drive motors with a power inverter module to deliver power to the front wheels, with one providing primary drive to the wheels and the other providing some drive assist and charging the batteries.
The battery pack is stored under the second row floor, leaving the cargo/passenger area capable of hauling up to seven passengers or several sheets (up to 64) of plywood or wallboard. The trade-off is the loss of the Stow-N-Go seating of the second row and the necessity to remove the second row captain’s chairs to open up the cargo area.
The second row seats will fold, but will not be level with the floor. Because they don’t fold flat, the padding is plusher. The seatbacks recline and the seat can be slid fore and aft for comfort and easy entry to the third row. The third row can also be accessed between the second row seats. The third row 60/40 bench seat still folds into the floor.
Pacifica Hybrid has four sets of child-seat anchors – in each second-row seat and the outboard third row seat. Side-curtain air bags in all rows help protect occupants’ heads, front seat-mounted side air bags protect front passengers’ thorax, and knee-bolster air bags protect their knees from the dash.
Cargo area behind the third row is 32.3 cubic feet. With the third row stowed, cargo space is 87.5 cubic feet, and with the second row removed, there is 140.5 cubic feet – the largest interior volume in the segment.
Passengers have plenty of room to get comfortable, with 41.1 inches of legroom in the front, 39 inches in the second row, and 36.5 inches for the third row. Headroom is equally generous with 40.1 inches in the front, 39.6 inches in the middle, and 38.7 inches in the rear.
Hybrid-specific technology, including a smartphone app, delivers charge status and scheduling, charging station locations and an “efficiency coach” for more-efficient driving.
Using the Uconnect 8.4 touch screen, Electric Pages include Power Flow, a dynamic illustration showing how and where power is flowing within the vehicle; Driving History, a chart showing distance driven in electric mode and hybrid mode, graphed by day; and Charge Scheduling, allowing owners to schedule charging times during off-peak hours or charge immediately if needed.
A 6.6-kW onboard charger along with a 110-volt charging cord are standard, with a port on the front quarter panel just in front of the driver’s door.
The Uconnect Access smartphone app allows access to state of charge of Pacifica’s battery, estimated time to full recharge, vehicle range, charge status updates, charge scheduling and charging station locations and availability. The app also allows, as with other FCA vehicles, remote lock and unlock, remote start (with cabin preconditioning), destination transmission to Uconnect navigation via Send ’n Go, and much more.
A customizable seven-inch color TFT cluster display with unique Pacifica Hybrid screens includes the “efficiency coach,” which helps the driver control the throttle to optimize energy consumption on acceleration, and provides guidance on braking to help take full advantage of regenerative braking. The screen itself changes color to indicate which mode is in operation – teal for electric, blue for hybrid. The battery level and fuel level are always displayed, along with the combined total range.
My Pacifica was a beautiful Silver Teal Platinum model, one of 10 exterior colors, including Billet Silver, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl, Granite Crystal Metallic, Molten Silver, and Velvet Red Pearl, with the Teal exclusive to the Hybrid.
A sculpted exterior with fluid-like surfacing had a level of style not found in the minivan segment. Sliding door tracks hidden under the rear side glass made them nearly indistinguishable. The long wheelbase, wide track and low ground clearance gave my Pacifica a planted appearance.
Unique wheel designs, a unique front grille pattern, and distinctive badging set the Hybrid apart from the rest of the Pacifica lineup. My wheels were 18-inch polished aluminum with seven cut-outs. Seventeen-inch, five-opening aluminum wheels are offered, packaged with front air deflectors. A tri-pane panoramic sunroof with power open-and-close shade added $1,795, and featured two deep-tinted glass panels above the first and second rows and a fixed panel above the third row. The first panel slid and tilted, with a power shade, while the third panel had a manual shade.
The upscale interior, with high-end materials, had black on the dash, door panel inserts, and floor, with alloy seats, door panels, and liftgate. The exclusive interior included Anodized Ice Cave accents, Ice Blue stitching and black piping, with sculpted, horizontally drawn features moving the eye around the spacious cabin – very relaxing and inviting.
A vault-like interior design, along with standard Active Noise Cancellation, meant a quieter cabin and greater enjoyment of the 13-speaker premium Alpine audio system and other infotainment features. In fact, the interior was quiet enough to hear even the quietest conversation.
An all-new, class-exclusive Uconnect Theater rear entertainment package included dual 10-inch seatback video screens, dual HDMI inputs, a Blu-ray/DVD player, USB video port, a third-row USB charging port, three-channel video remote control and wireless headphones, and a 115-volt auxiliary power port. Rear passengers could watch movies, play built-in games, or connect personal devices to surf the Web.
SiriusXM satellite radio, Travel Link and Traffic were standard, along with HD radio, Uconnect navigation, integrated voice command and Bluetooth.
The tri-zone climate control can be activated remotely to attain the ideal temperature before passengers enter. The 8.4-inch touch-screen infotainment system had straightforward menus and responded quickly to inputs. Some internet apps, such as Yelp, are available, although the smartphone connections are not available.
The KeySense programmable key fob is useful for parents of young drivers, allowing them to place limits on speed and audio volume, mute the audio if the front seatbelts are not buckled (teens need tunes to drive), block certain SiriusXM channels and prevent the disabling of certain “nanny” features such as Forward Collision Warning-Plus and ParkSense rear park assist.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the most technologically equipped vehicle of its kind. It is comfortable, as well as efficient for hauling lots of people and equipment, DIY and gardening supplies.
It’s very good looking – inside and out – and actually fun to drive. With $1,795 in options and a $1,095 destination charges, my Pacifica Hybrid delivered for $47,885.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.