Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has more going for it than fuel-saving virtues

By Paul Borden

(August 19, 2017) Having resurrected the Pacifica nameplate in 2016 with the introduction of a full-fledged minivan replacing the combination wagon/SUV that went out of production after the 2007 model, Chrysler has unveiled a plug-in hybrid version of the same for the more fuel-conscious among you.

Both the standard Pacifica and the Pacifica Hybrid are labeled as 2017 models, though the former has been around for well over a year and the latter just hit showrooms this past spring.

They are essentially the same vehicle with the obvious difference in powertrains, plus the popular Stow-’n-Go seats that hide the second row captain's chairs under the floor for more storage are not available on the Hybrid. That's where they put the battery for the electric motor.

Well, there is also a difference in price.

The Pacifica Hybrid Premium (the base trim) carries an MSRP of $43,090 including the $1,095 destination and delivery charge with a $7,500 federal tax credit bringing the effective price down to well under $36,000. (Chrysler says it’s under $35,000 but that doesn’t figure in the destination charge.)

The top trim level for the Hybrid, the Platinum edition, checks in at $46,090, which is competitive with the Pacifica Limited with its 3.6-liter V6 (base MSRP of $42,990) when that tax credit is applied. Various options can make a difference when doing comparison shopping, of course.

The Pacifica Hybrid Platinum I had for a week carried a total MSRP of $47,885 with the Customer Preferred Option Package, which included such features as adaptive cruise control, blind spot and cross path warning, and the UConnect Theater Package, was counted in.

The Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in model that can go up to an estimated 33 miles on electric power only, which may be enough for running the kids to school or making a grocery trip depending upon where you live and shop. Past that, power comes from the V6.

With an electrically variable transmission with dual motor EV drive capability, the Pacifica Hybrid earns a fuel economy rating of 84 miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe), which the company says leads the minivan segment. Keeping that battery charged for the most efficient operating takes up to 14 hours on standard housing 110-volt storage. Get the level 2 charger (240 volts) and that time is cut to just two hours.

That works for routine daily tasks, and for long family trips where public charging stations may not be available, the gasoline-only operation is rated at 32 miles-per-gallon overall.

With the exception of the second-row, Stow-’n-Go seating, the Pacifica Hybrid comes with all the features you are looking for in a minivan, No. 1 being lots of space for seven passengers and all their stuff.

There are all kind of nooks and crannies for storing items throughout the spacious, nicely appointed cabin. There is 32.3 cubic feet of storage area behind the third row, and the Stow-’n-Go system that is missing on the second row still works for the third with the back seats folding neatly into the floor to boost cargo capacity to 87.5 cubic feet.

The Platinum edition in particular comes with a plethora of standard features that make the difference in price worthwhile. They include a hands-free power liftgate, power sliding doors on both sides, keyless operation with push-button start, capless fuel filler (push a button on the driver’s door and a signal in the instrument panel lets you know when it is ready for fueling), three-zone A/C, UConnect 8.4 NAV (which is one of the more intuitive systems to operate), automatic headlamps with LED daytime running lights, fog lights, LED tail lamps, leather seat surfaces, and an 8-way power driver’s seat with 4-way lumbar lumbar support.

That Customer Referred Package, a $1,795 option, is well worth it. In addition to the features mentioned earlier, it also includes a 360-degree surround view camera and rear-seat entertainment and park assist systems.

So why go for the Hybrid over the standard Pacifica?

The bottom line to me comes down to how many miles you drive in a typical year and if the savings you get from the Hybrid are worth the difference in upfront costs. I’ve seen people crow about the virtues of their hybrid car and then just let it sit in their driveway most of the day/week.

If you do drive the normal amount and keep that battery charged up, you’ll get the full benefits of the Hybrid, and there also may be state and local tax breaks in addition to the federal tax credit that will make a difference in cost as well.

I’ll let you do the math for your potential savings. It gives me a headache.

What I liked about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: Lots of high quality materials are found throughout the interior. The ride (with an exception I’ll note in a minute) is very quiet and comfortable. It cruises nicely on the highway, and power (estimated 260 horsepower) makes for a nice drive around town.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: The whine from the electric motors — which is typical on many hybrids — as you slow to a stop grinds on the nerves. Also, I don’t like fooling around with the extension cords that come with plug-in hybrids.

Would I buy the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid? Well, no, I wouldn’t at this stage of my life. I’ve been an empty nester for quite some time. But when it comes to family transportation, a minivan is hard to beat, and the Pacifica Hybrid has to be near the top of your list. If price is the determining factor, check out the gasoline-powered Pacifica. You can get the Stow-’n-Go seats with the vacuum cleaner with it!