Chrysler introduced the first minivan to U.S. motorists in 1984. The minivan’s popularity has since been eclipsed by America’s seemingly insatiable appetite for crossovers and SUVs. But Chrysler hopes to revitalize this segment with the Pacifica plug-in hybrid (PHEV) minivan. It’s an industry first, and it works quite well.
Inside, forward visibility is very good because of the low dash. The front of the cabin is spacious, with plenty of headroom and storage space. A convenient rotary transmission shifter also saves space. The top-trim Limited’s front seats, covered with perforated leather, are luxurious. However, the seat cushions themselves are flat and offer little support. The rear seating area offers plenty of headroom and legroom; sliding rear-seat captain’s chairs with video monitors mounted to the front seatbacks are available.
The Pacifica’s ride quality is quiet, compliant, and comfortable. The 3.6-liter V6 hybrid powertrain (260 hp total) runs smoothly and also transitions seamlessly from EV to hybrid operation. The Pacifica PHEV has an electricity-only driving range of approximately 33 miles, and then switches to gasoline-electric power. The vehicle’s battery can be fully charged in two hours on a Level 2 (240 volt) system, but it takes 14 hours on a standard home (120 volt) setup. Because it’s a plug-in hybrid, the Pacifica qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
On the downside, just a couple of gripes: Some electric motor whine and clatter is evident, and the brake pedal is soft, with longish stopping distances. Also, no advanced safety features are standard; all are extra-cost options.
Photos courtesy of Chrysler
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