We're spending 12 months with this Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, reviewing the full ownership experience with ongoing updates. For 2019, the Chrysler Pacifica is one of our 12 Best Family Cars.

 

Mom With Drive

by Lyn Woodward on May 6, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 8,702
Latest MPG/MPGe: 23.3
Total MPG to date: 33.72
Maintenance/Service Costs: $1,911.64
Days out of Service: 25

Wow, 646 miles since the last fill-up and counting! Yes, I am intentionally milking this for all its worth and seeing just how long I can go before filling the Pacifica Hybrid up. Stay tuned folks, because I still have 175 miles on the odometer, and I’ve got a Level II charger at the office and even though I charge through my regular 120V charger at home, I’m keeping my errands close.

Gas mileage, however, is not what this update is about.

Not long ago, I had to get to the airport fast. A flight was cancelled, and the replacement flight didn’t allow me time to park off site then take a shuttle and risk missing my plane. If you’ve ever headed to Moab for Easter Jeep Safari, you’ll know why you don’t want to be late for that.

So, the alternative was for my mom to drive me and given the state of her car, the Pacifica won out. Only problem is my mom’s daily driver is a 1998 Buick Regal. There is no push button start on her car. Her shifter juts from the steering column like a stalk of celery. And then there’s the plugging it in part. “This is like the toaster in my kitchen,” she said. Sort of.

Key fob foibles

Since the Regal is new enough to have the key fob for remote unlocking, that part was easy. But there are so many other buttons on the Pacifica’s that it warranted additional explaining.

The button below the unlock opens the rear hatch when you click it twice. Convenient. The one next to that will start the car remotely after pressing it twice. Very convenient. Below those are sliding door shortcuts, but which one is which? Orient the key fob the way the car is, lock and unlock representing the driver and passenger seats and that defines your left and right doors. “But you don’t need to do any of that, Mom. Just unlock the door.” I didn’t bother telling her that if she walked up to the car with the key in her hand and simply opened the door it would unlock for her. TMI.

Mom sat in the driver’s seat and surveyed. “Where do I put the key?” You don’t. I instructed her to put it in the center console. Starting a car with a button was a strange concept for my mom. Even more challenging was that the Pacifica’s start/stop button is tucked to the right under the steering wheel, making it impossible to see if you don’t know where to look for it. I would have to keep my fingers crossed she’d remember where that one was.

Shifter secrets

Explaining the rotary dial shifter was the next task. Personally, I’m not a fan. Now my mother isn’t one either. Sorry Chrysler, I biased her.

Truth be told, she did reach for the volume knob once, which is painfully close to it, and it confused her. It confuses me, I reassured her. She definitely had to look at it every time. As I’ve said before, it’s not the instinctive stick shifter or stalk older folks are used to and pulls driver focus. I’ll concede, though, the more I drive the car the more I can feel the three clicks from P to D then then two back to R. Shifting no longer distracts me the way it once did, but it’s taken a while.

A big test was getting it out of my tight apartment building parking spot. Checking rearview mirrors always trumps cameras, but in this case they’re a bonus. “This is a really big car,” she says. I explain that this is why I call it The Brick. But her Regal is no wallflower, and with the help of parking sensors and camera guidelines she backs out of the spot and we emerge from the garage.

Joys of EV operation

Driving instruction was minimal. Other than explaining what the beeping blind-spot detection warnings were, it’s just like driving a regular car. “Why isn’t it making any noise?” That’s because it’s an electric vehicle right now, only using power from the motor and those are quiet. She was relieved to know that there wasn’t 100-percent reliance on the electricity part. Gas engines are a familiar comfort to a lot of drivers. Hybrids are a perfect transition.

She loved the acceleration and how smooth the gearing was on the nine-speed automatic transmission. The Pacifica offers an even, comfortable ride despite its size. Mom dug it.

After I drove us to the airport, it was her turn. She slid into the driver’s seat, adjusted it to her liking and quietly buzzed away.

Like the good student she is, when she got back to my apartment parking spot, she plugged The Brick back in. The Uconnect alert on my phone confirming its return was comforting. She’d negotiated the congested 405 freeway without incident. She and The Brick were safe.

A minute later she texted me telling me as much. “I know.” She was confused. I told her about the app and my notifications. “Oh, this is so much better than my toaster.” 

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Hi Tech

by Lyn Woodward on April 22, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 8,555
Latest MPG/MPGe: 23.3
Total MPG to date: 33.72
Maintenance/Service Costs: $1,911.64
Days out of Service: 25

As you can see, when we do these updates we include current odometer settings. I almost just got up from my seat to walk all the way outside to check, until I remembered Uconnect. Uconnect is Chrysler’s mobile app that lets you connect with your car. Think it’s just some gimmicky throw-away extra? Then let me help you think again.

Reviewing cars, one rarely gets a chance to use such things as the mobile app as there simply isn’t time, but because The Brick (this is my new nickname for our long-term 2018 Copper Pacifica) is in our hands for a while, we have time to try it out. I downloaded the app from the Apple store then had to get login information through our contact at FCA, but as soon as I got the registered email, password and PIN, access was easy. Face ID with my iPhone Xs makes logging in every time very simple. Unless of course I’m in disguise wearing a hat, glasses and moustache.

From there you can customize your car name, hence The Brick. Modifying which notifications you receive is simple. You can get updates on the vehicle’s health as well as when it gets plugged in. My mother drove me to the airport last week, dropped me off, then parked it back in my space and plugged it in. The second she did I got a notification. She texted me about a minute later explaining the car was back safe, but I already knew! After her initial thought that I was somehow spying on her, she was baffled and amazed. Stay tuned for the next update when I explain what it was like teaching her how to drive the Pacifica.

More than just charge status available

It’s great knowing how much time left until the Pacifica fully charges, but there is other helpful information you can access remotely as well. Tire pressure, oil health (and when it’s feeling like it’s time for a change) and individual trip information and vehicle location are in the palm of your hand. This function is great if you had teen drivers in the family who use the minivan. It’s easy to know when the vehicle is in use and how far it’s gone.

If I’m getting close to the car and it’s parked in a dark spot, I can automatically start the car and unlock it. Great safety feature. I can also access the horn and lights, which would probably freak someone out if they were lingering around the Brick. Certainly, I’ve seen a cat or two scamper out from under it.

Do I use Uconnect every day? No. But it adds value when I do use it, like today when I saved time by not having to go outside. Or does that just make me lazy? Don’t answer that.

And, hey, that MPG up top is from two updates ago. That’s right, I haven’t had to fill up the tank in almost a month, almost 500 miles ago, and I’ve still got 201 gas miles left to use. The Pacifica Hybrid is a mileage machine. 

 

Some Odds and Non-odds

by Lyn Woodward on April 5, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 8,094
Latest MPG/MPGe: 23.3
Total MPG to date: 33.72
Maintenance/Service Costs: $1,911.64
Days out of Service: 25

Non-odd: You might notice that the mileage, MPG and MPG to date don’t change much on these updates. That’s because I only have to change those when the car gets filled up with gas. Thanks to the plug-in hybrid-ness of the Pacifica.

Odd: When I climb over the Hollywood Hills watching the battery drain on the Pacifica is like sand thorough an hour glass. But there’s something else I’ve noticed of late. When I turn the radio off, I’ve started to notice the Pacifica isn’t a quiet little lady. There’s a whirring noise that sounds like a fan in the electric motor but then there’s also a lower droning that sounds like the gas engine contributing the tenor bits of the choral exercise. I’m pretty sure it’s always done that I think I just drown it out normally listening to the Harry Bosch series of novels as I commute through the city.

Odd: Recently, I received notification of a Pacifica Hybrid recall. According to the NHTSA "after the vehicle has been operating in PHEV propulsion mode, the gas-fueled engine may not restart properly resulting in unburned fuel entering the exhaust catalyst." In layman’s terms this means that we’re running a potential risk of catching on fire. While the recall was announced last fall, we just received notice on it a week ago. This seems as though something of this magnitude should have gone out sooner, but perhaps that means our VIN isn’t really affected and this is more of a precautionary measure. Next week it will go into the shop and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Fingers crossed nothing happens before then.

Non-odd: The other night the Pacifica came in quite handy. I met up with some friends at an art gallery opening. In typical LA fashion we all drove separately. When we decided to head out for a bite afterward everyone piled into the Pacifica and we hit up a local Thai restaurant. One passenger commented on how much she liked the steering wheel in the Pacifica. Handsome devil. I like it when everyone wants to come with me. I feel like the school bus driver.

Odd: The more I drive the Pacifica Hybrid the bigger it feels. It might be that I’m driving it more, or that I’ve been driving smaller cars in between, but I find myself being extra cautious going around corners, so I don’t curb the wheels. Maybe I’m just having an Alice in Wonderland moment and everything is going to start shrinking next. Stay tuned.

 

Chrysler Pacifica Versus…

by Lyn Woodward on March 22, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 7,519
Latest MPG/MPGe: 23.3
Total MGP to date: 33.72
Maintenance/Service Costs: $1,911.64
Days out of Service: 25

It’s been a while since I’ve spent time in KBB’s long-term Chrysler Pacifica. Not for lack of desire, but the minivan’s been quite popular and too busy to spend time with me recently. Happily, I got in it last week. Because our long-term Honda Odyssey leaves us this month, we decided a comparison between the two rectangles on wheels was a good idea, and for my money it reaffirmed something I already knew, how great the Chrysler Pacifica really is.

Getting into the driver’s seat there is no comparison in my eyes. Where the Odyssey feels like an old relative’s long-used Lazy Boy chair, a bit too broad and soft, the Pacifica’s seats feel like higher quality leather and far more supportive, especially when embarking on an extended journey or being stuck in dense Southern California traffic.

The interior layout feels more deliberate in the Pacifica. The infotainment screen is fully integrated into the center stack and its graphics are great. The Odyssey’s are good too, but I do prefer Chrysler’s Uconnect system. If incredibly easy and intuitive to operate and customize sounds is interesting to you, you’ll like it, too. Though I prefer the Odyssey’s push-button shift mechanism over the Pacifica’s rotary dial version.

More in-cabin extras, please

The Pacifica doesn’t compete with the Odyssey when it comes to in-cabin extras such a Honda’s Cabin View and Cabin Talk, allowing the driver to communicate and watch what’s going on behind them, but there’s a part of me that thinks those systems might be more of a distraction for the driver. However, if you’re kids are wearing headphones, it might be better than having a parent yell or throw Pepperidge Farm Goldfish in their spawn’s direction to get their attention. If you do choose the food-fight method, there is a vacuum system in our Pacifica just like the Odyssey. Clean up on aisle all of them.

Perhaps I’m biased with that instant torque the Pacifica’s hybrid motor offers, but the driving experience doesn’t compare for me. Quick acceleration from a standstill in the Odyssey offered tire spin and sluggish throttle response. The Pacifica responded immediately to a lead foot on the floor without complaint from the tires’ touchpoints with the pavement. Once both are up and running there isn’t that much difference. These aren’t exactly powerhouse vehicles, but both do the job efficiently, though points again go to the Pacifica in the fuel economy column with that 33 miles of pure electric operation you can get with a full charge, making its estimated 84 eMPG untouchable. Time to hybridize, Honda!

As for the look of them, that’s going to be up to the owner, but Chrysler’s got some pretty sweet extras to jazz up your van. On a recent 2019 loaner we had an $800 S package that included black leather interior with the S badging embroidered on the headrests, blacked out 18-inch wheels and other murdered-out accents on the roof, grille surround and window moldings. The Odyssey Elite and its floating roofline just don’t bring sexy back to the minivan category. Okay, that’s pushing it, I know, but you get what I mean. Go, Chrysler Pacifica! 

 

Life Happens

by Richard Homan on February 18, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 7,320 miles
Latest MPG: 25.1 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 33.8 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $1,911.64
Time out of Service: 25 days

It's pretty ugly how much damage a mean old Volkswagen Eos can do to a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Yep, our big Copper Pearl-Coat minivan's rear got bumped as it backed out of a driveway by a VW Eos that didn't see it while turning left into traffic from the other side of the street.

Nobody hurt -- that's all that matters -- but the area below the Pacifica's liftgate got pretty mangled when the VW brake-submarined beneath the minivan's bumper. No warnings went off -- that's not really what the rear cross-path detection sensors specialize in -- but the bumper did its job beautifully and absorbed most of the oncoming energy.

Normally, insurance companies would sort this out and the repairs would be done in about a week. Since our long-term Pacifica Hybrid technically belongs to Chrysler, they wanted to step in and supervise repairs. That meant a series of approvals and such that kept the Pacifica out of our fleet for about 25 days.

Total cost for the repair was $1,911.64, the lion's share of which was taken up by labor -- $918.05 -- and the rear bumper cover incorporating the ParkSense rear park-assist sensors and tech -- $671.00. Fortune favored our Pacifica in that the rear hatch was undamaged and only needed a little touch-up work.

Now back in full-time force, our 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited is ready for more action, just not this kind.

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Control (Button) Issues 

by Steve Lind on February 15, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 7,259
Latest MPG/MPGe: 24.2
Total MGP to date: 34.1
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.0
Days out of Service: 0

After a couple of weeks in the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid I’ve gotten to know it much better and while overall, my impressions are good, there are, like in any relationship, some personality quirks to get used to.

The temperature controls on the touchscreen are a bit tricky to use. You have to move the arrows up and down, which makes for imprecise adjustment. If I wanted even a couple of degrees change, it would take a while to get it just right. The touchscreen is either too sensitive or not sensitive enough and sends the temps from 75 to 68 to Low without hitting anything in between.

While I understand they are regenerative, the brakes on the Pacifica Hybrid are not my favorite. They don’t have a terribly responsive feel in that artificial, stiff way regen brakes feel. Certainly, they do the job, and with kids in the car I’m grateful for that, but as someone who enjoys the feel of driving, I wish they could be improved. I’m sure as the tech progresses so will the execution of said brakes.

I believe this has been addressed in another update, but the rotary dial shifter is a design that should be thrown out with the baby and bathwater. It pulls driver focus from the road in quick shifting situations and can be outright dangerous if accidentally shifting from drive into reverse. Because the volume knob is in close proximity, on more than one occasion I grabbed for the wrong one and started turning up the transmission. This design seems imperfect in my opinion.

Other than the three nit-picks the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid proved to be a great help while my car was in the shop, and if anyone asked me for a recommendation, of the ones to choose from, the Pacifica is the van to beat, my control button issues notwithstanding.

 

Long-Term Loaner to the Rescue

by Steve Lind on February 8, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 7,124
Latest MPG/MPGe: 24.4
Total MGP to date: 32.6
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.0
Days out of Service: 0

As a Kelley Blue Book employee who doesn’t normally get to test cars in the long-term test fleet I was happy to contribute my thoughts about the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan I drove while my car was in the shop.

Usually, I drive a Land Rover, Range Rover, so you can imagine what a wonderful surprise the fuel efficiencies of the Pacifica were. Before the Range Rover, my family drove a Honda Odyssey and loved that car. The Pacifica proved every bit as capable and as great a utility as our old trusty.

The overall driving experience was solid. The Pacifica, thanks to the hybrid’s instant torque, has great acceleration. It handles like a much smaller car especially when turning, and the blind spot warnings and other safety features really inspired confidence. Most of my commuting travel is local, but I didn’t charge it. The editorial staff was interested to see what kind of straight gas mileage it got. 24 mpg is a pretty impressive number for something that can carry that much stuff.

One day I took my sons to a Warriors/Clippers game at the Staples Center, about 50 miles north of the Kelley Blue Book offices in Irvine, CA. Maneuvering through LA congestion was easy. Certainly, my mind was at ease with the boys fully utilizing the game screens on the back of the front seat headrests. This feature sure makes for happy parents during frustrating commutes.

Every time we got into the Pacifica I made the boys use a different seating configuration, just for fun. The third-row stow and go feature made that super easy. They could do it themselves. It’s too bad the second row doesn’t operate in that way, too, though I think it’s because the hybrid battery rests beneath those seats, so they’re fixed.

Out of the gate, my family gives the Pacifica a six-thumbs up. And if I had three thumbs I’d put that one up, too for the very cool Copper exterior color. 

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Commuter Countdown

by Jason Allan on January 25, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 6,752
Latest MPG/MPGe: 25.1
Total MGP to date: 37.9
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.0
Days out of Service: 0

Riddle Me This

How can it take me exactly an hour to get to the office in the morning, but only eight minutes to get home? Hint: I have school-age children. Ah, the joys of piling bleary-eyed pre-teens into the car while still swallowing that last bite of Cheerios. No, Dad doesn’t like getting up this early either, guys, but we all have responsibilities.

My commute isn’t as far as our Executive Editor’s, but it’s still decent. And even with two school drop-offs extending the route in the morning, our Chrysler Pacific Plug-In covers the entire day on electricity alone. Even if I didn’t have access to a charger at the office, I could return home in the evening with plenty of juice to spare. Now, granted, I don’t pick up the kids from school in the afternoons, but perhaps there’s another experiment due, because I’ll bet if I drive it right, not using too much power on extras like the radio, climate controls or driving like a speed demon (as much as one can in a minivan) I might just make that entire round trip and stay inside that 33-mile EV bonus.

For longer trips, the Pacifica has faithfully shuttled our family to San Diego and Palm Springs, covering the roundtrips of more than 100 miles while returning impressive fuel economy in the mid-high 20 mpg range. That only slightly makes up for the disappointment felt when the battery charge bottoms out at zero-percent. Once you drive a plug-in hybrid there is something pretty satisfying about how long to extend that charge.

Short daily driving mixed with regular extended trips isn’t an uncommon scenario among minivan owners, which is why the plug-in hybrid minivan makes so much sense. And for the time being, the Pacifica Plug-In is the only game in town. And this comes from a tried-and-true fan of the Honda Odyssey. Come on Honda, you’ve been served. 

 

Winter Summer Day 

by Jason Allan on January 11, 2019

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 6,536
Latest MPG/MPGe: 36.5
Total MGP to date: 32.4
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.0
Days out of Service: 0

Beach Machine

When you think of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, maybe it’s not the first car that comes to mind when driving down a coastal road on a sunny day. Maybe a convertible with the top down seems more apropos. But I’ll wager the Pacifica might be one of the better vehicles, and not just because it’s named after a small surfing town tucked under San Francisco along the northern California coast.

Granted the weather is pretty good year-round here in coastal Southern California, but one joy we don’t get to fully experience is that first warm sunny day after months of unrelenting cold and wet in pretty much the rest of the country. That’s when parks and patios fill up, sleeves and hems shorten, convertible tops come down, and the city is filled with a palpable sense of relief, delight and camaraderie. I’ve witnessed it first-hand in Seattle and Chicago, and I know it’s a universal phenomenon across the northern stretch of the country and far beyond our borders.

But after an unusually wet and chilly spell -- our coldest in 60 years – a long-yeaned for beach day was an especially welcome one. As a cathartic and liberating unofficial first day of spring, this was about as good as it gets around here.

I was glad to have taken the Pacifica Plug-In for the weekend, because few vehicles will swallow bikes and beach gear more easily than a minivan. Trucks work well, obviously, but minivans keep your things more secure. Most SUVs can hold a bike or two but loading more than one can be tricky. For a full-featured beach day, minivans are where it’s at.

So, no, it might not be a Jeep Wrangler with the top off or a Mazda Miata zipping past the frothing surf, but the Pacifica serves as a great beach drive car. I just wish this one had a sunroof.

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Exceptional Real-World Fuel Economy — 46.1 MPG

by Michael Harley on December 29, 2018

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 6,193 miles
Latest MPG: 46.1 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 36.2 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Time out of Service: 0 days

Wow, this long-termer caught me by surprise. While nearly every automaker cripples their hybrid gasoline-electric offerings with small fuel capacity and tiny engines (limiting range and driving enjoyment), Chrysler fits this minivan with a 3.6-liter V6 and a 16.5-gallon fuel tank. Charge the battery before a road trip and it will deliver 30 combustion-free miles. Once the battery is exhausted it drives just like a standard six-cylinder minivan — with an electric assist motor — with a more-than-reasonable 350-plus mile range. But around town, with nightly charging, combined range is jaw-dropping.

To see how the hybrid minivan would tackle my family’s routine at home — a mix of highway and stop-and-go travel with plenty of local elevation changes — I took it home for the two-week holiday season. Long story short, it blew my mind.

I put 612 miles on the minivan over the course of 10 days. The driving was a mix of high-speed highway, stop-and-go highway traffic, city traffic, driving over the Santa Monica mountains to Malibu (with six adults on board), and running errands — exactly what most families would do (I even loaded it with a dozen folding chairs and two tables, as I was hosting dinner one evening). As expected, I charged it every night with a standard 110-volt wall outlet and its included charger. When the fuel gauge needle finally kissed the red, I swung by a gas station to fill it up. The pump shut off at 13.29 gallons — based on the 612 miles on the trip computer, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid delivered a hand-calculated fuel economy of 46.1 MPG.

Of course, there are hybrid vehicles that squeeze more miles-per-ounce of fuel, but none deliver the power of a V6, the range of a standard fuel tank, and the utility of a seven-passenger minivan with jaw-dropping efficiency. All gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles should be this exceptional.

 

Close to Home

by Lyn Woodward on December 18, 2018

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 4,414
Latest MPG/MPGe: 37.5
Total MPG to date: 34.6
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

Driving the long-term Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a little bit of a tale of two cars thanks to the plug-in hybrid system.

When I don’t find myself driving to the office from my home in Southern California, the Pacifica acts like a very large and wonderful golf cart. One charge shuttles me to the grocery store, the workout place, even hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains high above Los Angeles. There’s massive satisfaction knowing that I’m driving around a beast while not using one drop of gas. Every morning when I get into the Lucky Penny, one of its nicknames because of its awesome copper color, it’s satisfying to see the blue charging lights fully lit, and that 100-percent battery life indicator.

But, alas, like all things, it doesn’t last.

When commuting (and who doesn’t have to be at work?), initially I find myself doing that hybrid driving thing. You know, that thing hybrid drivers do trying to maximize their mileage, crawling on the freeway and exploiting the regenerative braking to prolong the charge. Of course, that doesn’t last long. Never one to dawdle in the driving department, I like to get where I’m going, even if that means fuel efficiency be damned. My 33-mile EV range disappears quickly. Blue lights out.

Charging challenges

Charging Coppernicus (another nickname) when I’m not home has proven to be something of a challenge. While at Kelley Blue Book headquarters in Irvine, about 60 miles south of the San Fernando Valley sprawl in which I live, we have a high-speed charging station that gives the Pacifica a full charge in about 2 hours, give or take. I can get about halfway home on that if the traffic planets are correctly aligned. That’s much less than the 14 hours it takes on 110 volts when charging at my apartment.

There’s a ChargePoint station three long city blocks from my house. Unfortunately, there is no special designated parking space for it, so anyone can, and usually does, park there to grab quick items from the grocery store it’s next to. The second closest option is the mall. For someone trying to curtail a retail therapy habit, the last place I want to find myself with nothing to do for two hours is near a Bloomingdale’s.

I’ve asked my previous apartment building manager about the odds of getting a high-speed charger installed. All that got me was in trouble for using the plug located in the parking garage, the one that the building manager uses when power-washing the crud out of the drains. I surmise that the rest of the world similarly continues to play catch-up with EV technology.

Until then, I’ll have to make due with sneaking the extension cord across the courtyard after hours. But I could see how the logistics of charging could be off-putting for a non-homeowner who doesn’t have a viable charging option.

Fuel efficiency takes a hit

Sadly, this means sometimes it doesn’t get charged, negatively affecting our overall fuel economy numbers. My commute is successfully sabotaging that number as well. Perhaps the conclusion is that the Pacifica Hybrid is the minivan for folks who never have to venture far afield who also own their own field.  

We promise to keep you plugged in to all the latest updates on the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, so keep checking in here to read more.


Vegas or Bust

by Lyn Woodward on November 19, 2018

Price: $47,730  | Price yours
Current Odometer: 4,007
Latest MPG/MPGe: 41.38
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

Recently the long-term Pacifica Hybrid went on an unlikely road trip to SEMA, the aftermarket car parts convention in Las Vegas. A minivan doesn’t exactly scream a need for aftermarket bits like raucous Magnaflow exhausts or over-sized Bilstein shocks, but on a road trip comfort is what I’m after and the Pacifica seemed like the best choice.

The almost 300-mile trip each way wasn’t going to be a test of how great our gas mileage was using the plug-in hybrid since we didn’t even get out of the LA County before we used up the available 33-mile electric charge, so I brought a colleague along and thought I’d use the opportunity to get her thoughts on the Copper Cab (this is my new name for it – you got a better one let me know).

First impressions

“It rides like an SUV,” she said. If she was blindfolded she would have thought so. The ride was smooth, comfortable, but didn’t feel minivan-ish. To her it also felt more powerful than what a minivan would. We both attributed its quickness to the electric motor and the instant torque it provides.

Visibility was another area that surprised her. The large front windshield made for some great desert landscape sunset spotting, and once we got to Vegas some great neon light peeping as well.

From the inside, the only dead giveaway that this wasn’t an SUV was the pronounced slope of the A-pillar and perhaps the fact that the doors are farther away from both driver and passenger creating van width. “I feel like this could be smaller, well, narrower, and you’d still get the utility you’re looking for.” I tend to agree that minivans have gotten pretty maxi of late.

How about the ride?

She was blown away by how comfortable the Pacifica is. “The captain’s chairs are perfect for long trips, but this leather would be destroyed by a kid within ten minutes.” She was commenting on the light grey color that I mentioned in one of my previous posts about the seats being beautiful but not conducive to sticky fingers and shoes climbing all over them.

“Could you tell how fast I was going right there?” She had no idea. I’m not encouraging anyone go that fast, and I’m not telling you what I did. I only increased speed because I was passing someone then slowed back down to a more reasonable and legal clip when the truck was in my rear view. Point is, the Pacifica’s suspension is smooth and rides like it’s floating on a cloud.

Overall thoughts

“This is a solid package,” she said. “If I had to choose, I’d pick this over the Honda Pilot or the Ford Edge for sure.” Yes, those are smaller vehicles, but I appreciated her point. The Pacifica rides like a far smaller SUV.

“I also like the way the safety features work. There are lights but also audible warnings for stuff like blind spot detection,” she said. “It’s good to have both especially on a long road trip when the drone of the road has a lulling effect on the driver.” Couldn’t agree more.

We could also hear each other fine. Cabin noise from either wind or road is minimal so there’s no shouting above anything. Now, if there’s a stack of kids in the back, I might not say the same thing, but for this trip it was peacefully serene.

All in, the road trip was a great success. I felt more punished by the 20-plus miles of walking I did in the convention center than the 626 miles I drove from door to door. It wasn’t the flashiest car cruising Las Vegas Blvd, but it might have been the most comfortable road-trip I’ve taken in a while.  No money was lost during the testing of this vehicle. 

 

The Good, The Bad, and the Fun

by Lyn Woodward October 15, 2018

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 2,714
Latest MPG/MPGe: 47.1
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

The more time I spend with our long-term Chrysler Pacifica the more I like it. However, like any enduring relationship, ours is not perfect. For a minivan, I still think it’s too big. When I put it in my apartment parking spot, I have to position it just so otherwise I can’t use the sliding side doors. That seems to me to be one of the plusses you want to exploit with such a vehicle. And don’t get me started on finding a charger when you want one. Alas, those are updates for a different day.

There are three things in particular that over the past several weeks have started to leave an impression, meaning, I think about them every time I drive the car. So, what do you want to hear first, good news or bad news or the fun? Fun for last? Okay, then.

Good news it is. The third row stow-and-go seats are so easy to use sometimes I just put them up or down because I can. The second row isn’t stow-and-go because of the hybrid battery, but I’d never drive it with zero seats like a cargo van anyway unless there was occasion. But I don’t haul a ton of stuff. I haven’t been asked to move a friend. I don’t have a job as, say, a massage therapist who carries a massive table to appointments. I do have a single folding chair in the back of the Pacifica constantly. So, sometimes I put both seats in the third row down and sometimes I put one of them up then stash the folded soccer mom chair at an angle in the hole where the other seat isn’t tucked away. Fun! According to Chrysler there are 243 possible seating configurations in the Pacifica. Before this long-term experiment is over, I’m going to see if I can do them all.

Now to the bad news. The shifter is one of those rotary dial ones. I always thought that if I had more time in a car that had one, I might get used to it. No. Despite having driven this car for a couple months now, I still have to look at the dial to see what gear I’m shifting into. It’s not intuitive like a stick shifter, which lands at the same angle for drive, neutral or reverse every time. Same with a stalk in trucks, pull it toward you, pull down and blamo! You can feel from the position of the stick which gear you’re in. The rotary not so much. You just turn a knob with no idea of what gear you’re in without actually looking at it.

The other problem is the rotary dial’s proximity to the volume knob. More than once I’ve reached over to adjust the volume and grabbed the gear shifter. Turn that while you’re driving, and it changes gears, I tested it. Going 10 mph I shifted the minivan from drive into reverse. The car slows to a stop and then heads into reverse. If the driver isn’t paying attention or doesn’t know they’ve shifted to change direction and keeps their foot on the accelerator this might cause some problems. Maybe at higher speeds it doesn’t do that, but I’m not willing to be the guinea pig in that test. That being said, pay attention while you drive.

Now for the fun. Chrysler as a company love Easter eggs. No, not the kind a possibly fictitious rabbit hides every spring, but little gifts for its owners. On the Pacifica, if you look closely down by the floor between the driver and passenger seat, there’s a shallow, rubber-lined cubby with which to hold stuff like a purse or a phone. Subtly etched into the rubber grippy liner are four Chrysler minivans representing their evolution since the first Town & Country appeared in 1989 and through the current model Pacifica.  This cheeky nod to Chrysler’s heritage is marvelous. When I glance down and see these mini minivans, I always smile.

 

A sumptuous interior

by Lyn Woodward October 1, 2018

Price: $47,730 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 2,417 miles
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

What part of the word minivan conjures visions of sumptuous leather, perforated to perfection, sublimely supple and comfortable? Uh, no minivan comes to mind? Well, look no further than the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited. That’s our long-term tester and, folks, I have to tell you, the interior reeks of gorgeous.

The seats, each captains chairs support one’s posterior to perfection. Channels of Nappa leather bolster every backside that sits upon them. The headrest cradles the craniums of either short or tall, depending on adjustment, and the seat back accommodates both broad and petitely statured persons. If a comfortable seating position previously eluded you in other cars, this one adjusts eight-ways with an additional four just for your lumbar region.

On our Limited trim model, contrast stitching comes in so tantalizingly a turquoise one daren’t get lost in a Caribbean dream during elementary school drop-off or pick up. The lightest gray leather echoes through the entire cabin on soft-touch surfaces to caress your arms as they sit atop the armrests and run your hands across the door panels. Uh, wait a second, light gray? Can that be correct? On a minivan that will most likely have kids, plural, in it, wielding their mud and ice cream smeared hands like weapons across this light-colored leather oasis? Yup, that’s right.

As a woman who does not have children myself, I see no problem here. I take impeccable care of my cars, and this one would look new until the day I sold it, no matter how many years later. However, I have friends with kids, and even those who keep their cars relatively clean, should never, ever buy a minivan with a light interior. Every pen mark, every dirty shoe print, every vomit stain, every everything shows up! Yikes. I’m not 100% sure what Chrysler was thinking when making Alloy Gray an option. Unless you’re Super Parent, this seems like yet another thing to worry about when little Mikey already scraped his knee. No one wants to worry about whether dried blood comes off of leather the hue of picturesque San Francisco fog.

That being said, I cannot swoon enough over how good the interior looks, well, the kid-free version of the interior. Guaranteed if there were small children crawling around it like a jungle gym, I might have some very different things to say.

One nit pick on the seats is about the heating and ventilation function. There is no physical button with which to turn either on or off. The driver must navigate through the infotainment screen while driving to employ either. Again, in a minivan where most drivers are more than likely parents with enough on their hands, like if they forgot one of their children somewhere because it’s simply too quiet in back, perhaps a short cut button for this feature is warranted.  

 

The Pacifica Hybrid as a camera car?

by Lyn Woodward on September 17, 2018

Normally, when you think of what a minivan can haul it’s one of a few things, kids, groceries, soccer stuff, camping gear, but here at Kelley Blue Book, we thought we’d see how well it could haul our video production camera equipment. So, recently, while we were shooting the Kia Forte Review & Road Test video, we used our long-term Pacifica Hybrid as our camera car.

As far as cargo space goes to load in all our cameras, sound equipment and the Movi, which is the rig we use to mount the camera on the back of our vehicle to shoot car-to-car footage, the Pacifica Hybrid of course didn’t disappoint. There was plenty of room, even with the second row in place. We tucked away the Stow-n-Go third row of seats and had 87.5-cubit feet of space for gear. Really we could have put a ton more in there, probably enough to shoot a short film and not just our six-minute video, but we run a lean crew, and the Pacifica Hybrid’s space proved more than ample.

The bigger concern was how the Pacifica Hybrid would perform while doing our tracking shoots. When I’m driving the test car, the camera car has to keep pace, sometimes even overtaking me to get the perfect shot. Normally, our crew uses a Honda Pilot with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 280hp. The Pacifica Hybrid comes with a 3.6-liter V6 as well as two electric motors, which makes a combined 260hp. While those sound like similar power outputs the Pacifica Hybrid is considerably heavier because of that hybrid powertrain, to the tune of almost 5,000 pounds compared to the Pilot’s about 4,200 pounds. That’s like driving the Honda with a grand piano strapped to its roof. Thus, the concern that the minivan would be lumbering and have trouble keeping up, even with the 147hp Forte.

Fear not. The Pacifica Hybrid kept in lock step with me constantly in spite of its heft. Acceleration from a slower speed or a complete stop was downright quick thanks to the instant low-end torque output of those two electric motors. In all honesty, the Pacifica Hybrid drives like a much smaller car than even the regularly powered Pacifica, which is also 1,000 pounds lighter. 

While there is noticeably more body roll around turns in the Hybrid thanks to that extra weight (who doesn’t roll around a bit more when we’ve gained a few, right) the minivan still felt solid and more than capable to keep up performance wise. Not sure we’d say the same when shooting a Lamborghini, but it was more than capable.  

The rear window, which is also smaller than that of the Honda Pilot, was still big enough for our camera mount, and to be honest it actually looked pretty good back there. Any concerns I had were definitely put to rest and hopefully my performance was at least half as good as the Pacifica Hybrid’s. After I posted a picture of the Pacifica Hybrid on Instagram all kitted out for work, a lot of automotive video producers chimed in saying how much they loved using the Pacifica Hybrid as a camera car, too. Seems they all know stuff I don’t. Unsurprising.

While you may not be the next Steven Spielberg chasing around cars in your minivan, if you’re in the market for one such vehicle that has versatile utility, is un-minivan-like quick and has a little bit of star quality, then the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid might be one to add to the test drive list. 

 

Introduction

by Lyn Woodward on September 3, 2018

  • Price: $47,730 (including $1,345 destination)
  • Powertrain: 3.6-liter V6 eHybrid Engine; eFlite EV Transmission
  • EPA: Gas & EV: 84 combined MPGe; Gas 32 combined MPG

 

Minivans are great when it comes to versatility. They’re amazing utility vehicles. Owners can easily haul around kids and stuff, but when one thinks of a minivan, amazing fuel economy doesn’t normally come to mind.

Well, Chrysler would like to change all that, so they’ve introduced the Pacifica Hybrid. It’s the first plug-in hybrid in the category, and we’ve just added one to our long-term test fleet to see if the Pacifica delivers.

Go Long

EPA numbers on the Pacifica are ridiculous. Estimates come in at 84 MPGe when using the combined gas and electric motors in tandem, but even the gas number alone at 32 mpg is pretty impressive for the category. That’s a lot of gymnastics classes and soccer practices.

But just because the EPA and Chrysler say those are the numbers, we want to make sure for ourselves. We plan on taking our Pacifica here, there and everywhere. Our Executive Editor can’t wait to drive the Pacifica on his 100-plus mile commute each way to the office. An editor will head up north on a road trip so she can cart her godson and his siblings around while their parents go on vacation. We’ll have plenty of ways to figure out if those lofty numbers hold up.

Beauty and the Beast

“Wow, what a gorgeous minivan,” said no one ever. Well, at least until now. The exterior of the Pacifica is as lithe as a minivan might look these days. It’s got great character lines on the body, and a simple but understated and elegant profile. Though the front end does sort of look like one of those paintings of a person with four eyes, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Striking Copper Pearl-Coat paint slathers the sheet metal. It’s a stunner.

We opted for the Limited trim and it comes overflowing with standard features. Nappa leather covers the seats and the most-touched surfaces inside. An 8.4-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will help keep us from getting lost, power seats, keyless entry and redesigned Stow-n-Go third row seating is also included.

We added both the Customer Preferred Package for $995 that includes 20 speakers with our Harman Kardon audio system, all kinds of safety features including adaptive cruise control and rain sensing wipers, and the Hybrid Special Appearance package for $395. That gets us body-colored power mirrors and door handles and 18-inch alloy wheels among other amenities.

However, we also know how much minivans get beat up, used, and kicked around. While we don’t plan on any extra-punches testing, we’re not going to baby this thing either. You and your family live in the real world and we plan on seeing how this beauty holds up in it.

Motoring

Our minivan motors with its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 eHybrid engine for a total of 260hp. All that goodness is mated to a one-speed electrically variable transmission. We know how great instant torque is from other EV and hybrid cars and we’re counting on the Pacifica Hybrid not being any different. We’re looking forward to seeing how it handles twisty mountain roads, you know, because road trips, as well as when it’s full of passengers and needs a little extra kick to get out of tricky situations on the highway.

Next Impressions

At first glance, yes, this minivan does look like it’s got both style and substance. Stay tuned while we find out if our first impression lasts an entire year.

Be sure to bookmark this page for regular updates we add to this review.

More about the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid:

See our full review of the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid or build and price your own to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own, and more.
 

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