Pacifica was introduced in 2017 as a replacement for the Chrysler Town & Country. Like all minivans it offers dual sliding doors, three rows of seats and a rear liftgate. Pacifica can trace its lineage back to the original minivan, the 1984 Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Current competitors include the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna.
In 2018, Chrysler added a hybrid version of Pacifica and now for 2020 the model lineup also includes an all-wheel drive version. The standard Pacifica comes with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 287 horsepower. However, with the Pacifica Hybrid, Chrysler engineers re-tuned the engine to be more efficient and replaced the 8-speed transmission with a continuously variable automatic that houses 2 electric motors. There's also a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that takes the up residence in the stow-n-go bins for the second-row seats. All told Chrysler estimates that the hybrid powertrain produces 260 horsepower and can provide up to 30 miles of all-electric range. The battery pack can be charged in two hours on a Level 2 plug and about 13 hours on a standard household plug. It is worth noting, the battery does not need to be charged for normal hybrid operation, only if you want to drive in all electric mode.
Pacifica pricing starts at $34,045 and climbs to more than $49,140 for a top-of-the-line Hybrid model. All-wheel drive is currently only available on the Touring L model, but may be expanded to other trims in the future. All come with 7 passenger seating and feature power sliding side doors, 3-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and starting, 8.4-inch touch screen display and 2nd-row power windows. Available features include leather seating surfaces, power liftgate and leather-wrapped steering wheel, Uconnect Theater with wireless streaming and hands-free power sliding doors and liftgate.
Performance isn't at the top of most minivan shopper's checklists, and Pacifica's unobtrusive powertrain confirms that fact. On the positive side, the 3.6-liter V6 develops a robust 287 horsepower. That's good enough to propel Pacifica from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.7 seconds. Acceleration on par or better than most competitors. Unfortunately, the nine-speed automatic sometimes hunts between gears when accelerating and occasionally stumbles when coming to a stop.
Simply put, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid accelerates exactly as if it were a regular minivan with the one exception being completely linear power delivery. The sophisticated hybrid system seamlessly delivers power in the most efficient way -- and that's a good thing because Chrysler has not provided any option for drivers to control hybrid operation. When pushed, the van can accelerate from 0-60 MPH in around 8 seconds.
When fully charged, the battery can provide about 33 miles of mostly-electric driving. Mostly electric because the gas engine automatically kicks in under hard acceleration regardless of battery charge. Once the battery reaches a preset charge level of discharge, full hybrid mode kicks in and the vehicle uses the gas engine to accelerate and the electric motors to assist and maintain speed. The transition between gas and electric operation is as transparent as any hybrid and the electric motors have the ability to accelerate the Pacifica smartly away from stoplights, making gas assist only necessary in nearly full-throttle acceleration.
EPA-estimated fuel economy on the gas-only model clocks in at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Respectable numbers and that are certainly competitive with rivals. Individual fuel economy numbers will vary greatly depending on how Pacifica is used. As an urban carpool workhorse, owners are likely to average about 20 mpg. Throw in a fair mix of gentle highway cruising and fuel economy will likely approach 26 mpg overall.
While the gas-only Pacifica can tow up to 3,600 pounds, towing is not recommended with Pacifica Hybrid.
The EPA gives Pacifica Hybrid an MPGe rating of 82 combined and a gas rating of 30 MPG combined. The gas combined compares to 22 MPG combined for the regular Pacifica and the Pacifica's main competitors. EPA ratings aside, the Pacifica Hybrid is an amazingly fuel-efficient vehicle. In routine suburban driving it's easy to maintain 30+ MPG overall and if you take the opportunity to plug in, you can nudge past 40 MPG overall. If your daily drive is less than 30 miles overall, you can literally fill up less than once a month by plugging in nightly. Keep in mind though, hybrid fuel economy is best in the spring and fall and dips with constant operation of the heater or air conditioning. The 16.5-gallon fuel tank provides more than 500 miles of range.
Providing a smooth and quiet ride, the Pacific drives exactly as a minivan should. Though the ride is firmer than you might expect -- especially if you were a Town & Country owner -- it is never harsh or rough. The suspension provides good bump absorption over the rough stuff but is composed enough to prevent bouncing or bounding. Interior noise levels are low, possibly the lowest in the class. If you are coming from a Honda Odyssey, you'll immediately notice that the Pacifica is quieter and has a smoother softer ride.
Despite modest body lean and a portly curb weight of 4,500 pounds, Pacifica doesn't shy away from twisty roads. It's no sport sedan, but more than competent for most family duties and doesn't feel overly large or unathletic in traffic. The biggest weakness is numb and unevenly boosted steering that can grow notchy under acceleration. Pacifica's brake pedal is very easy to modulate. On hybrid models, the pedal don't pulse as it switches from regeneration to friction braking and provides for smooth, even stops.
Chrysler has more experience with minivan interiors than all of its competitors combined. So, you could argue that Pacifica's interior is the result of more than 3 decades of intense market research. Materials are price appropriate on base models and posh in the upscale Limited and the build is sturdy and functional. Drivers face a twin-dial setup but neither are a speedometer or tachometer. In the middle is a digital speedometer that also contains a driver information center. The center stack boasts a large touch-screen display that utilizes FCA's Uconnect infotainment system. Easily the best in the business, Uconnect is simple to operate, doesn't require a deep dive into the owner's manual and supports Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Climate controls are mostly separate, but some of the seat controls are tied to Uconnect. Window, lock and mirror controls are conveniently placed on the door armrest.
Pacifica front seats are nicely contoured and well padded. Head room is great but leg room is only adequate. Those taller than 6'2" might wish for a few more inches of rearward travel. Second-row captain's chairs are comfortable but feel a bit undersized. That's because they fold into the floor on non-hybrid models. Hybrids get different second-row seats that are even more comfortable. Another hybrid only feature, those second-seats slide for-and-aft. Third-row seats provide acceptable comfort for two adults, three across will squeeze everyone. Getting in and out of the front and second row is about as easy as it gets. Third-row passengers will have to twist and turn a bit, but it's still no chore.
As you might expect, cargo space is impressive. In back, Pacifica offers 32.3 cubic feet of luggage space. Fold the third-row and cargo space grows to 87.5 cubic feet. With all seats folded maximum cargo capacity is 140.5. More impressive though is the ability to utilize the stow-n-go seat bins for under-floor storage. Something no other minivan offers. Pacifica Hybrid loses the ingenious stow-n-go compartments, but the van does offer removable second-row seats and more than 140 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Interior storage is great with lots of bins, cubbies and shelfs throughout. There are tons of cub holders and USB ports for all three rows of seats.
Bottom Line -- With the advent of seven- and eight-passenger crossovers, Minivans aren't quite as popular with the carpool set. Still, there's no besting a minivan when it comes to family hauling. Pacifica makes a strong case for class supremacy with its user-friendly interior, innovative features and exclusive hybrid model. Pacifica is extremely competitively priced, oftentimes undercutting rivals by a thousand dollars when similarly equipped, so shop wisely and make sure you test drive the exact model you are looking to buy.