Road Test: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum

Road Test: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum

Not Just A Hybrid, But A Plug-in Hybrid

Once the king of the road, the minivan segment has seen sales steadily fall through the late 1990s and early 2000s, but then level off. They are now steady and have been for a few years, which shows that for around 500,000 buyers per year, the minivan is still the right answer.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The good stuff’s inside–and underneath.

Now, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has broken new ground with up to 33 miles of fuel-free driving, giving the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona some serious new competition. And that’s because the Pacifica Hybrid isn’t just a plain ol’ hybrid, it’s a plug-in hybrid. That means when the battery that provides the 33 miles of electric-only driving is depleted of energy, the Pacifica Hybrid smoothly switches to gasoline-electric hybrid driving.

In hybrid mode the new minivan gets 32 mpg combined city and highway fuel economy according to the EPA. That compares to the low- to mid-20s for those other guys. If you start out with a fully charged battery and a full a tank of gas, you can drive 560 miles before filling the fuel tank or recharging the battery. When operating in electric drive, the Pacifica Hybrid is EPA rated at 84 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe).

To get that 84 MPGe, it takes just two hours to fully charge the battery using a home charging station with a 240-volt, 30-amp circuit. Or, the battery can be filled with electrons in around nine hours with a standard 120-volt wall outlet.

But Wait, There’s More

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The Hybrid puts everything on the dash so you can walk back if you want to.

In addition to a more stylish appearance inside and out, the Pacifica Hybrid offers a host of available convenience and safety features. Joining the party: hands-free power-sliding side doors and tailgate, a triple-pane sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system with two 10-inch touchscreens.    

The 2017 Pacifica Hybrid is offered in two trim levels. The price tag for the Premium model starts at $41,995 plus destination charges, while the top Platinum edition starts at $44,995. When the federal tax credit of $7,500 is calculated, the cost matches the upper-trim versions of the conventional gas-powered Pacifica. In some states, additional perks and rebates will essentially eliminate the so-called hybrid or plug-in premium.

Minivan Fan—But…

Full Disclosures: First, I am a devout minivan fan. The interior space and flexibility of seating arrangements, not to speak of the sliding passenger doors, make it one of the most versatile vehicles you can buy. Second, I love plug-in hybrids. They can drive a fair amount of emissions-free miles and then switch to the fuel-saving miles of a hybrid. What’s not to like?

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The minivan draw–so much space!

So, you can see why I was delighted when Chrysler handed me the keys of their Pacifica Hybrid to drive for a week.

Minivans will never be considered sexy. They are, after all, small school buses with sliding doors, according to my youngest son. However, Chrysler designers did a marvelous job of successfully giving the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and its gasoline sibling an exterior style that is the most elegant minivan available.

The front end has a slim, sleek nose borrowed from the now discontinued Chrysler 200 sedan. The headlights, grille and entire front end present a distinct and handsome face of the minivan world. The side glass is trimmed in bright metal, rear pillars kick back with a relaxed style and sliding doors cover their tracks under the rear windows. The elegant styling continues on the sides, where optional 20-inch wheels give a more dramatic look. In a nod to one upsmanship, the hands free, foot wiggle opening treatment gets applied to the side sliding doors as well to the rear lift gate.

Premium Inside

A Chrysler badge denotes premium vehicle, which is confirmed by stepping inside. The Pacifica Hybrid is awash in upscale looks, highlighted by the thin rim of metallic trim on the steering wheel. The sculpted and stitched dash wraps beautifully around the front passengers, details that speak to the hours of interior design attention. Dash design is simple, with a central control pod that includes Chrysler’s rotary gear shift. The deletion of the center stack below the knees is a big bonus, creating both a place to easily put large items such as purses and briefcases, but also giving the interior a more open feel. A seven-inch color information display and 8.4-inch touchscreen allow the driver to access navigation. Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity are standard and included in the infotainment system.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

A new door for minivans

In addition to the 8.4-inch UConnect touchscreen for managing things up front, there’s UConnect Theater for rear seat passengers, featuring dual 10-inch high definition touchscreens. Audio can be upgraded to a 20-speaker Harmon Kardon system, to hear the best of everything.

Front seating is well-positioned with plenty of legroom and headroom. The Pacifica has the largest total interior storage space in the minivan market, although this version of the minivan seats seven, not eight. Due to the placement of the 16 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, the plug-in hybrid doesn’t have the second row Stow N’ Go seats that fold into the floor. Yet, the seating is highly configurable with second-row captain’s chairs. The rest of the cargo features—lots of bins, pockets, and hooks—is intact.

There are 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row thanks to a deep tub created when the seats are up for use. When the third row is folded down, the loading floor becomes flat with a very useful 87.5 cubic feet. With the second row removed, cargo expands to a massive 140.5 cubes.

Surround view cameras, parking assistance and various autonomous safety systems such as a blind spot monitoring system and adaptive cruise control are offered.

On The Road

With a lively zero-to-60-mph time of around 7.5 seconds, acceleration is something no one is likely to complain about. This comes courtesy of FiatChrysler’s hybrid system engineered for the Pacifica, and likely to find its way into other vehicles. It starts with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine found in the standard gas-powered Pacifica.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The hybrid Pacifica shares its good lucks with its non-hybrid cousins

Engineers modified the six with different pistons, camshafts, and valves; bumped the compression ratio; and added Atkinson-cycle capability for maximum fuel efficiency. The engine is connected to a continuously variable planetary-gear transmission that houses two electric motor/generators that get electric power from the battery. Chrysler estimates the total output for the hybrid system at 260 horsepower that’s sent to the front wheels.

The real benefit from this system comes in fuel economy, as the Pacifica Hybrid showed me a combined average of 34 mpg for a drive of 182 miles, where the engine was on for the majority of the drive time. In town electric driving was a very excellent 109 MPGe on one occasion. Overall, after chalking up 356 miles, the readout indicated 33.2 mpg.

I am used to driving a minivan (not a Chrysler or Dodge) and I give kudos to the Pacifica for outward vision all around. And more cheers for the surround view camera when backing out of shopping center parking spaces.

The minivan was easy to navigate in urban and suburban traffic. Driving on freeways, the Pacifica Hybrid wasn’t different than piloting an equal-size crossover SUV, but sight lines were better.  Steering provided little feedback, although the people hauler always went where it was pointed. The adaptive cruise control did something cool, automatically setting the drivetrain to accelerate when I hit the turn signal when passing or changing lanes. The system, which automatically matches speeds with slower traffic ahead, also brings the Pacifica Hybrid to a complete stop when traffic stops.

The suspension wasn’t close to being sporty, but it was comfortable. There was just enough firmness to keep the Pacifica from jostling about on a curvy road. What really set the new hybrid minivan apart was its interior quiet. Making a big box like this quiet at speed isn’t easy, and Chrysler is way ahead of rivals like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey.

Turns Out, Pacifica Hybrid Is Not My Cup of Tea

For those not needing eight-passenger seating, the Pacifica Hybrid should be on their minivan shopping list, but it just doesn’t work for me. This is a plug-in hybrid, and as such should have a driving mode that holds the electric charge when driving on freeways for later use in city driving or heavy stop-and-go traffic. Chrysler says that minivan owners don’t want to have to think about maximum efficiency. Well, this minivan driver does.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

And, in the end, not Larry’s kind of minivan

Even if I could disregard the lack of an electric hold mode, I couldn’t get past the terribly uncomfortable driver’s seat. After a little more than an hour behind the steering wheel, the pain I felt in my back was nearly unbearable. And I’m not alone on this one.

A friend of mine was seriously considering the Pacifica Hybrid. I suggested he test drive one for at least two hours to check out the seat. He called me after driving about an hour and a half to tell me he was asking the sales person to take over because his back, too, was in severe pain. So, my tip is take at least a couple hour test drive.

In the Marketplace

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid doesn’t have any true competitors as it is the only hybrid minivan on the market. However, crossovers can be an alternative to minivans as a family car with passenger and cargo capacity. In that regard, there are a number of hybrid crossovers to cross-shop, such as the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Acura MDX Sport Hybrid and Lexus RX 450hL. But these tend to be five-passenger vehicles or have less than comfortable third row seats. Most also don’t offer extended electric-only driving.

In order to give you, the reader, the best perspective on the many vehicles available, Clean Fleet Report has a variety of contributors. When possible, we will offer you multiple perspectives on a given vehicle. We hope you’ll enjoy these diverse views–some are just below—and let us know what you think in comments below or at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica (John’s view)

First Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica (Michael’s view)

News: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Minivan

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Road Test: 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

First Drive: 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Road Test: 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The Best Seven-Passenger Choice

Imagine a world where a sport utility vehicle did not exist and the words, “I am not a minivan mom!” never were uttered. Imagine a family yearning for a seven-seat vehicle that could also carry all their luggage, in comfort, in a vehicle that gets the best fuel economy in its class–with the majority of the around-town, family trips using no gasoline at all.

What kind of a world would this be? Except for the no SUVs, it’s one we can live in now with the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV).

Hybrid Exclusivity

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the first and only plug-in hybrid minivan on the market. This does not mean it is best in class by default. This claim, and all the accolades that have been bestowed on the Pacifica, must be and have been earned. Let’s start with the fuel economy.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Reinventing the category they invented

The front-wheel drive Pacifica Hybrid has a powertrain consisting of a gasoline-powered 3.6-liter Atkinson cycle V6 and two electric motors, all mated to a nine-speed automatic. Using regular fuel, the total system combines for 260 horsepower. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates fuel economy at 19 mpg city/28 highway/32 combined, with an impressive 84 mpge, or miles per gallon equivalent. MPGe is an EPA measurement of how far a car can travel, electrically, on the same amount of energy as is contained in one gallon of gasoline. No minivan can equal these numbers. Not even close.

Common on all hybrids is a regenerative braking system, which recharges the Pacifica’s 16-kWh Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. Regenerative braking converts braking or coasting energy into electricity. Driving around town, stuck in stop-and-go rush hour freeway traffic or coasting down hills will recharge your battery you’ll see an instant display of the battery state of charge and mileage range on dash gauges.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The advantage over every minivan on the road

The advantage of the Pacifica being a plug-in hybrid, is that when the battery is fully charged, the first 33 miles you drive produce zero tailpipe emissions. After this all-electric driving range is exhausted, the Pacifica is powered by the gas-hybrid system. A welcome addition would be for Chrysler to add a small generator that would replenish the Li-ion battery while you are driving in gasoline or hybrid mode. This way, you could choose when you want the ability to drive in all-electric mode.

Plug-in charging can be scheduled for off-peak hours to save on electricity costs. The 6.6-kW onboard charger will replenish an empty battery to the maximum 33 miles driving range in about two hours using a 240-volt, Level 2 charger. Expect about 14 hours with a 120-volt household outlet.

The upshot is that the Pacifica Hybrid has an estimated 570-mile total driving range. Not that you wouldn’t hear a constant cacophony from the rear seats of “Are we there yet?”, but you could drive San Diego to San Francisco with sixty miles to spare. Or maybe the family is going to a NASCAR race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and then hitting the road to Disney World in Orlando. Easy stuff, as those 525 miles are well within the Pacifica Hybrid’s driving range.

Driving Experience: On the Road

Clean Fleet Report drove the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum, with an EPA curb weight of 4,987 lbs. At an additional 657 pounds more than the non-hybrid Pacifica, the batteries located under the floor are responsible for most of the increase. Coming in at about two-and-a-half tons, we were curious how it would ride and handle. As far as the ride goes, the Pacifica Hybrid is as smooth as would be expected, with wind gusts or passing big rigs not having any effect on stability. The electric rack and pinion steering was tuned to leave sufficient road feedback, but don’t go crazy taking corners like you would in a sports car. The Pacifica Hybrid cornered well and the easy-to-predict minor body roll was manageable. A low center of gravity, thanks again to the batteries being located under the floor, and the 235/60R/18 all-season Michelin tires providing excellent grip, made the overall driveability of the Pacifica Hybrid a pleasant experience.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The dash is clean and functional

Stopping was straight. The four-wheel power-assisted disc, anti-lock brakes, were easy to modulate. As part of the regenerative charging system, more aggressive regenerative braking can be achieved by setting the drive mode to the “L” position. Doing so results in feeling the braking more than if in the “D” drive mode.

Completing the stopping suite were brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control and Rainy Day Braking. Rainy Day Braking is a helpful technology that lightly applies the brake pads whenever the windshield wipers are turned on. This helps keep the rotors dry during wet weather for more efficient braking, aiding shorter and more controlled stops.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid retains the sharp, crisp design of the non-hybrid Pacifica, which was all-new in 2016. From the side and 3/4 views, the Pacifica Hybrid has a stance and silhouette that makes people say it doesn’t look like a minivan. The smooth exterior design, with a very low 0.30 drag coefficient (Cd), begins with LED headlights that extend wide on the fenders. Fog lamps are set low in the fascia, and chrome accents are kept to a pleasant and tasteful minimum.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

A power lifegate ends of the aerodynamic van

The windshield sweeps to a roof that peaks just behind the front seats. The roof, with rack rails, a shark fin antenna and a built-in spoiler over the rear hatch (which has its own wiper), leads to the LED tail lights. The low lift-over means loading items as large as a 4×8 sheet of playwood into the interior bed is an easy task.

Driving Experience: Interior

Clean Fleet Report’s Pacifica Hybrid Platinum model came with the optional Customer Preferred Package, which included the Advanced Safety Tech Group and the Connect Theater Package. Our Pacifica Hybrid also had the optional Tri-pane panoramic sunroof. With the batteries placed under the floor, the very handy, and easy-to-operate Stow ’N Go function is not available on the hybrid. While the two middle bucket seats do not fold into the floor, they can be easily removed. They are somewhat heavy, but once removed you have a completely flat floor. This van will handle a whole bunch of your stuff!

The cockpit layout is simple and clean with soft touch materials on the dash and door panels. The easy to find and reach cruise, telephone and audio controls are housed on the leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel. I was especially pleased to see the radio had on/off knobs for volume and channel selection, and the climate control wheel was a different size than those of the radio. This may not seem like a big thing, but it is when reaching for these very different controls in the dark–regardless of your familiarity with the vehicle. The simplicity of the dash layout made for easy reading of the gauges and the full-color driver information display. The center cluster includes charging and battery information, displaying the power flow from battery to the engine, engine to the wheels and back into the battery during regenerative braking.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

A touch of luxury surrounds the front cabin inhabitants

Another nice touch, which opens-up cockpit space and reduces clutter, are the gear selector (a large wheel) and the electronic parking brake (piano switch), located side-by-side and next to the radio knobs. The well-thought-out dash is elegant in its design, as is the complete interior.

The UConnect Theater Package included an 8.4-inch touch screen for 3-D GPS navigation and the rearview camera display. A great sounding Alpine audio system, with a 506-watt amplifier and 13 amplified speakers, controls the AM/FM/HD with SiriusXM radio (one-year subscription included). There is a Blu-ray/DVD player with an USB video port. You also get Siri Eyes Free connectivity, Aux-in jacks, a 115-volt auxiliary power outlet and Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Rear seat passengers have a full entertainment system

For the second row (configured as two bucket seats) the passengers get individual, high-definition multimedia 10-inch HD seatback video screens. With three-channel, wireless headphones and Bluetooth touchpad remote controls for an uncluttered entertainment experience. Third-row passengers get a USB charge port and cup holders.

The list of convenience features on the Pacifica Hybrid Platinum is what would be expected. You get power everything, including the twin sliding side doors and rear lift gate, and exterior mirrors. The very comfortable heated and ventilated front Nappa leather seats are power for the driver, with the driver also getting power lumbar adjustments. The power panoramic sunroof opens the skies through-out the cabin.

Safety Features

Clean Fleet Report’s 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid came with a good combination of safety features, including 12 air bags, remote keyless entry, push button and remote start, hill start assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, rear parking assist with auto stop, anti-theft engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitoring system and the fore-mentioned four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (ABS) with brake assist. The optional Advanced Safety Tech Group package also included rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and the very helpful surround-view camera system. This system provides a bird’s-eye view on the 8.4-inch screen, as if looking down at your car’s positioning. This is extremely useful when parking.

The Pacifica Hybrid has not been rated National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid its highest rating of a Top Safety Pick.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2017 Pacifica Hybrid comes in two models, with these MSRP.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The gauges tell the hybrid story

Premium

$41,995 Base, plus options

Platinum

$44,995 Base, plus options

Clean Fleet Report’s test Pacifica Hybrid Platinum had option packages that brought the price to $46,790.

All prices exclude the $1,095 destination charge.

The 2017 Pacifica Hybrid comes with these warranties.

  • Battery 10 years/100,000 miles
  • Hybrid System 10 years/100,000 miles
  • Basic   Three years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain 10 years/60,000 miles

Observations: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler invented the minivan. First introduced in 1984, Chrysler has had massive success with their Chrysler Town & County, Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager models. Competitors over the years and the SUV craze, that began in the mid-1990s, winnowed Chrysler’s minivan offerings. The Voyager and the complete Plymouth division were discontinued; the Caravan was superceded by the larger Grand Caravan and still survives. Competitors from GM and Ford disappeared as things got rough for minivan sales.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler has reinvented the minivan segment from the inside out

To revive this once robust segment, Chrysler knew they again had to do something that was completely new. The release of the gasoline-powered Pacifica in 2016 was only the start; the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid is the new game-changer for Chrysler.

Knowing that most minivan owners are running in-town errands and hauling their kids and their kids’ friends everywhere and anywhere, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is engineered to go the first 33 miles on pure electricity. This range conceivably means that all those short trips would be made without burning any gasoline. As long as the Pacifica Hybrid is plugged-in each night, the range will max-out at 33 miles and off you go again for another fun day of sports practice and grocery store runs.

But the Pacifica Hybrid isn’t just for around town jaunts. Where it really shines is on the open road where the family can go for hundreds and hundreds of miles in extreme comfort. With available rear seat personal video screens (complete with included wireless remote and headphones) and storage space to carry whatever a family would want to carry, hearing the words–“Hey, honey, grab the kids and let’s head for the mountains”–is no more daunting than driving to the corner store for milk and eggs.

Chrysler has made getting into the class-leading Pacifica Hybrid a two-model choice. There is only (and I say “only” knowing I am spending your money), a $3,000 price difference between the Premium and Platinum models. Deciding to go for the Platinum trim line is worth the investment considering the additional features that are packed into this package. And to top it off, opt for the $1,795 panoramic sunroof and your 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum is fully loaded for around $46,000. With Federal and state tax credits, your final price could be in the mid-$30,000 range.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid leads the category

When compared to a fully optioned seven-seat SUV, this is an excellent value for the money–and this does not even take into account the money you will save on gasoline over the lifetime of ownership. Plus, in many states, owning a plug-in electric vehicle qualifies you for a coveted, single driver carpool sticker.

There is nothing frumpy or dowdy about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. You will get positive comments on its looks, as well as people saying they wish they had bought one instead of the SUV they just signed onto for the next five or six years of payments.

Until it happens, and there are no rumblings out there that it is anytime soon, Chrysler has the only plug-in hybrid minivan. Not only are they first, but they have designed a wonderful vehicle. Go check it out for yourself.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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First Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

First Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

First Drive: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Buy It Because It’s a Great Minivan; Love It Because It Plugs In

Chrysler invented the minivan back in the Eighties and it’s been a mainstay in the market until recently, when car-based crossovers added a third row of seating, bumped up their styling and fuel economy. The one-box design of the minivan has always been the height of functionality, but that was pretty much all it had to offer. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the serious challenge to the new status quo—a strong attempt by Chrysler to retake the high ground with a new approach to the category.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The first minivan that plugs in

At the Western Automotive Journalists 2017 Media Day program, we had our first opportunity to spend some time in the plug-in hybrid Pacifica. We came away quite impressed. Chrysler’s long history with the minivan shows. The result is a vehicle that we predict will become the new benchmark for the segment.

The heart of the Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid powertrain designed to deliver unheard fuel economy for a big people hauler. The gasoline 3.6-liter V6 is pretty standard minivan fare, but in this case it routes power through an eFlite SI-EVT transmission (which includes two electric drive motors) and is paired with a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery. With that you get 33 miles of pure electric driving on a full charge. It defaults back to 32 mpg combined when just running in hybrid mode, light years ahead of its minivan competition. The MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent, which factors in the energy efficiency of the electricity coming from the battery) for the Pacifica is an even more impressive 84. With its combined electric and gas power the Pacifica should deliver more than 550 miles of range.

The hybrid powertrain is slick and clearly delivers some great fuel economy, but the smartest thing Chrysler has done is wrap it up in one of the best redesigns the minivan category has seen. Touches of luxury abound in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum trim level (the entry-level Hybrid is the Premium, which means there are no bargain-basement versions. The Hybrid versions of the Pacifica start at $41,995 (plus a $1,095 destination charge), a $13,400 bump over the base non-Hybrid Pacifica. But if if you look through the option list, which includes an almost endless batch of technology and functional add-ons, it looks like the up-charge for the hybrid is closer to a couple thousand dollars. Our top-of-the-line test model topped out at $47,885 (including the destination charge), but it appeared to have every available option.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid,interior

Luxurious ride for a family hauler

One of the first things you’ll notice in the Pacifica Hybrid is counter-intuitive. In electric mode, you’ll hear more noise than you might expect. It’s not coming from the engine, but you’ll hear road noise that would normally be masked by the engine. It’s not loud enough to be annoying (Chrysler uses noise-cancelling technology to quiet the expansive interior of the minivan, but it’s unique to this model.

Steering is brisk in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It’s much more nimble than its girth might indicate. The four-wheel disc brakes with regenerative braking to feed energy into the battery work seamlessly; the regen is mild compared to some systems on the market.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

A stylish and functional redesign

The minivan’s safety technology, a Chrysler hallmark since it became the first company to add airbags throughout its lineup, includes some great modern equipment. Airbags cover all of the seven seating positions. The Pacifica features a 360-degree view camera, optional forward collision warning with active braking, optional parallel and perpendicular parking assistance, adaptive cruise control and rear cross path detection.

We look forward to being about to spend a week in the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid to check it out in a more extended drive, but this first spin definitely puts this family wagon squarely in the battle for the hearts and minds of those who have people and things to move and want to do it with maximum efficiency.

As a footnote we should acknowledge that this is not the first time Chrysler has added a plug to its minivan. Back in the 1990s it did a short run of all-electric versions of its minivan at the time labeled the TEVan. Less than 100 were produced and it disappeared pretty quickly, though Chrysler made another run with the next generation minivan (this one labeled the EPIC (for Electric Powered Interurban Commuter), but also abandoned it after a couple years. Both were offered for lease-only because of the early stage of the battery technology.

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.