I don’t have children, which makes it a wee bit difficult to fully appreciate and evaluate every nuance of the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
Now, typically, minivans are huge boxes with a stratospheric center of gravity courtesy a whole bunch of steel, a whole bunch of panoramic sunroof glass, and a whole bunch of air ducting packed into the roof. This leads to a rather tippy driving experience that’s exacerbated by a soft suspension intended to provide pillow-like comfort for the kiddos in the back.
Throttle response is different in the Pacifica Hybrid as well, providing ultra-smooth and torque-rich electric power delivery reminiscent of an EV. Even when the all-electric range has been depleted, the Pacifica Hybrid continues to feel more like an electric car than one that also has a gasoline engine aboard.
Actually, when I wrote “all-electric range” earlier, that’s not quite accurate. With the plug-in battery fully charged, the engine can still come on if the driving scenario requires it — say, should you really gun the thing — and there’s no “all-electric” mode as in most other plug-in hybrids. In fact, there are no drive modes at all.
Having said that, the Pacifica Hybrid is estimated to have an almost-all-electric range of 33 miles, according to the EPA. The car showed me 31 miles when I set off on my standard 75-mile vehicle evaluation route, which in the past, has confirmed the ranges of other plug-in hybrids, including the Honda Clarity and Kia Niro.
Besides my “general suburban outings” being more conducive to running on electricity, the Pacifica Hybrid still functions as a, well, hybrid when the almost-all-electric battery range is depleted. The electric motor is still utilized with power captured through regenerative breaking. As such, total fuel economy, according to the in-car fuel meter, was 31.3 mpg. Combined fuel economy, according to the EPA, is 32 mpg.
Of course, that 121.4 miles featured a lot of highway miles. If you just drop the kids off at school, drive a reasonable distance to and from work, and then recharge at night, you’d be looking at far better and more realistic fuel economy than I achieved.