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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