2018 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid Review

2018 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid - Chrysler debuts first electrified minivan


Chrysler's initial venture into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) has the whole family, including Fido, in mind.

While most other automakers settled for small, somewhat cramped lift backs to launch their first high-volume 'charged' offering, Chrysler thought 'BIG; minivan BIG.'

Chrysler practically invented the family-friendly front-wheel-drive minivan segment back in the mid 1980's. It's only fitting that the Pentastar-company's accumulated know-how got repurposed to take the lead introducing the first mass-produced and extremely well-executed plug-in minivan.  After all, the family that plugs together lugs together.

It's environmentally gentler technology merged with a practical, multi-use interior, recasting the minivan image as a 'cool kid' transport. Eight-year-old Cara Casey of Lombard says so.

If Fido's crate needs crating, Pacifica's the optimal pet-friendly hybrid. Pacifica plug-in proudly sells in Illinois and all 50 states.  Some rivals limit their plug-in sales strictly to coastal regions.

The seven-seat Pacifica hybrid opts for V-6 gas propulsion teamed with electric hybrid components. A majority of plug-in and gas-electric hybrids introduced during the past 18 years tap four-cylinder power.

Chrysler retired the long-established Town & Country name in 2017 and reintroduced Pacifica, a name not long ago gracing the brand's large crossover, as the new moniker, representing Chrysler's sixth-generation minivan effort. Side D pillars visually offset from the hatch region, creating a handsome, crossover-like silhouette.

Pacifica travels approximately 34 miles in pure electric mode (when fully charged), before the gas-electric hybrid engine seamlessly takes over, providing an expansive 570-mile range.  No perceptible jolt, slap or burp was experienced during the hand off during the week's testing.

Pure electric range varies slightly depending upon conditions. With the A/C blower working overtime during hot, humid circumstances, expect slightly less range.  After the gas-electric hybrid engine takes over, expect 32 miles per gallon of combined city/highway travel, about 10 miles better than the plug-free Pacifica.

Utilizing a conventional 120-volt outlet, charging the out-of-sight lithium-ion battery pack takes approximately 12 hours from a depleted state.

For quicker results, households may opt for a 'Level 2' 240-volt outlet (used for powering conventional washing machines). Aftermarket companies, including Chrysler's Mopar division, install at-home Level 2 chargers (for a price), but with PHEVs, a common 120v outlet suffices for most situations since full-charge ups take about 12 hours.  All-electric EVs such as Chevrolet's compact Bolt (with no internal combustion engine backup), provide longer all-electric drive ranges with longer charge times, and make stronger cases for Level 2 installation. Invest in a Level 2 station and Pacifica's charging time shaves down from 12 to two hours.

Chrysler locates the plug-in port on the driver's side front fender behind a circular, spring-loaded door. While one end of the extension-like cord plugs into the wall socket, the receptor's other end, about the size of a hand-held hair dryer connects into a circular port.  A series of blue bars visible front the interior dashboard's top blink and illuminate during charging.  When all blue indictors go dark, the process is complete. Taking a quick peek at the inside instrument panel also provides insight, with a digital countdown by hours and minutes until full charging.

Pacifica hybrid in 2018 comes in three trims, one more than 2017: new-for 2018 Tour Plus, Touring L and Limited. Also new this model year, easier Smartphone pairing allowing center screen interaction with Apple and Android cell phone products. Also newly standard in 2018: SafetyTec Group including pro-active radar-enhanced rear park assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert in all trims. Hands-free operating power sliding side doors and rear hatchback are standard in Limited.

Our top-trim Limited tester included a $44,995 starting price, with just about every bell and whistle. The only options, two a-la-carte features ($1,595 tri-pane panoramic sunroof and $895 18-inch polished aluminum wheels) brought the bottom line to $48,580 with $1,095 destination charge. The lowest-priced Pacifica hybrid, a Tour Plus, starts at $39,900.

Pacifica hybrid qualifies for the Federal government's $7,500 tax credit redeemable when itemizing yearly income taxes mid-April; a strong financial incentive to introduce this green machine to the family.

The dashboard location of the standard push-button starts at times gets blocked front direct access by the steering wheel.  The system includes amber 'run' and 'off' illuminated reminders surrounding the button, useful since propulsion system is eerily quiet.

The electronic gear shifter (actually a dial) includes a dashboard local.  This chrome dial twists left and right to select PRND selections.  An electronic push-button parking brake resides nearby.

This eflight single-electrically variable transmission works in tandem with two electric motors (generating 84 and 114 horsepower respectively).  Both are capable of driving the vehicle's wheels and work in tandem with Chrysler's higher-compression Pentastar V-6 engine specially tuned for hybrid interaction.

The rechargeable under-seat 96-cell, 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack resides in the cove once reserved for Chrysler's innovative Stow-n-Go seats which completely compact down into the underfloor cove in select non-plug Pacificas.  This large battery not only powers electric motors, but recaptures kinetic energy during braking for later reuse. Despite the hybrid's absence of Stow-N-Go under seat storage, Chrysler provides plenty of other family-friendly storage and stowage opportunities.

The hybrid's standard second-row captain's chairs can disappear from view, but not quite with the convenience of Stow-N-Go.    Old-school 'Tug-N-Lug' remains the order of the day, requiring a strong back for physical removal and unlatching of the seats for garage storage.

However, all Pacifica trims, plug-in or plug-free include 60-40-split third-row seats which manually stow nicely and relatively flat directly into the floor with the gentle aid of numbered pull straps.

The fuel tank holds 16.2 gallons of regular unleaded fuel, about 2.5-gallons less than the plug-free Pacifica. When and if the tank needs topping off, the twist-off cap has retired. Instead, the fuel nozzle enters through a plate that self-seals when completed.

Kudos to Chrysler's large, easy-grab  twist dials and push-plates commanding HVAC functions and the multi-function in-dash 8.4-inch UConnect touch screen, which includes an animated hybrid selection detailing the vehicle's  power flow.   Below the screen, a pair of sizable tactile knobs monitors volume (left-side) and selection (right-side).  Centered below and between the two, a dual-function dial controlling fan speed (with a twist), and a direction (via a tap).  Colored/arrowed push plates raise and lower dual temperature zones.

Pacifica features Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) nifty secondary audio controls.  Toggle tabs on the steering wheel's back side monitor sound and selection via naturally gripping finger tips.

Chrysler, founded in 1925, finds itself in sync with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) 93 years later. Chrysler fields a rather thin 2018 lineup with a pair of vehicles: the Pacifica minivan and 300 sedan.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid

Price as tested: $48,580

Engine: 3.6-liter V-6 e-hybrid

Horsepower:  260

Overall Length: 203.8 inches

Overall Height: 69.9 inches

Overall Width: 79.6 inches

Wheelbase: 121.6 inches

V-6 engine economy:  32 mpg

Pure Electric Range: 34 miles

Hybrid system warranty: 10 year/100,000 miles

Assembly: Windsor, Canada


Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.