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2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Ownership: Doing Minivan Stuff

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author photo by Brian Moody January 2019

I've been behind the wheel of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid for a few weeks now. Frankly, I think I've about worn it out pressing it into service for just about every conceivable task. However, I've mainly been using it as a people mover. Over the long holiday break, my wife's sister and kids came to visit. So that we wouldn't end up annoyed with each other, and so that the kids wouldn't repeatedly grumble "I'm bored," my wife planned a long list of activities -- and they all required the van since there were seven of us total: three adults and four kids.

Remember this is the plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica, so some of the family activities lent themselves well to the Pacifica hybrid's abilities, others not as much. Before you buy a Pacifica Hybrid, ask yourself what you really want out of a minivan. If the bulk of your driving is around town errands and a moderate commute to work, this van is perfect. If you do a lot of long-distance travel, you might be better off with a gas-only Pacifica Limited, an excellent family car in its own right.

Only Game in Town

Whatever my feelings about the Pacifica Hybrid, one thing remains true no matter what I say. The Pacifica is the only hybrid minivan available today. Not only does that mean it will be hard to find a family wagon that meets or exceeds the Pacifica's fuel economy, it also means Chrysler is the only game in town if this kind of car is on your radar. But the Pacifica isn't just a hybrid, it's a plug-in hybrid or more officially a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). That means it can go a good distance working just as an electric car, then switches to a gas/electric combination for trips that exceed 25 -- 35 miles.

Every morning, when I fire up the Pacifica Hybrid (assuming I've remembered to plug it in), I see "100 percent" for the charge and "33 miles" for the EV range.

Keeping those family trips in mind, I ran in almost all electric mode 90 percent of the time. A 15-mile trip to Medieval Times, all electric. A 5-mile trip to the mall, all electric. Upon entering the mall food court, I instantly had the survival fight or flight sensation kick in. The Pacifica does not help with this.

Long Distance

We did take a 100-mile trip to the nearest Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, Georgia. If you want to see the finest collection of screaming toddlers ever assembled in the Western Hemisphere, your local Great Wolf Lodge is the place to go. Hey dad in the Kohl's swim shirt, your crying toddler definitely does not want to try the waterslide again. In terms of fun for school-age kids, the place is really great and they've done a very good job of making it feel like a special experience including many non-water related activities like mini-golf, ropes course and mini-bowling.

Clearly, the 100-mile trip means the Pacifica's gas engine is going to kick in. When it does, you can hear it, but it's not annoying or loud. Total fuel economy for the trip was just over 40 miles per gallon -- that's combined gas and electric. The really great thing here isn't so much the mpg but the fact that the Pacifica Hybrid is an electric minivan that doesn't limit you with a moderate or low-EV range. That gas engine means the Pacifica Hybrid is flexible enough to be super efficient, but also to any and EVERY minivan task you can think of.

The real problem with the Pacifica hybrid, the only problem really, is that you'll drive it and then instantly say, "why can't it just be an electric car the whole time?" That would be amazing, the Pacifica is at its best when it's working as an EV -- it's really quiet, quick and kind of fun to drive. The truth is, Chrysler could build an all-electric minivan, but it wouldn't cost $40,000 like the Pacifica Touring Plus. That's about the same price as most new, 2019 minivans with a decent level of features.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Ownership: Doing Minivan Stuff - Autotrader