Driving The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid In The Real World


The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the first — and so far only — hybrid minivan available in America. On the surface, this should be an incredible car. Rated 84 MPGe by the EPA, it promises to give families with kids and stuff to haul around the option of reducing their fuel usage significantly while contributing fewer carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Chrysler says the Pacifica Hybrid gets 32 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. The conventional Pacifica is rated 19 city, 28 highway, and 22 combined.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

“Combined” can mean different things to different people. For Cars.com, the Pacifica Hybrid got 27.6 mpg during a 241 mile highway journey with the cruise control set at 75. That’s not significantly different that the conventional van, so if you are looking to save money in highway mode, the Pacifica Hybrid doesn’t offer much of an advantage.

What happened in city driving is stunning, however. The Cars.com driver says he put on about 150 miles in stop-and-go city driving over a period of days, always recharging the battery at night and setting the car for maximum regenerative braking. The result? An observed, actual, honest to gosh 45 miles per gallon. That, folks, is more than double what a driver could expect from a conventional Pacifica. 45 mpg in a full size seven passenger minivan? If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will.

It’s not all sunlight and roses, though. The battery for the hybrid takes up the space under the floor that is normally reserved for the nifty Stow N Go seats. If you need to schlep some 4×8 sheets of plywood or a pool table, you will need to physically remove the middle-row bench seat. That’s not an easy task, but it’s a chore that should arise infrequently.

The bottom line is this: The Pacifica Hybrid is brilliant at what it does best — transport families and all their stuff to wherever they need to go and back home again economically and efficiently. Most of the time, the Hybrid, with its 30 miles of range, is capable of operating in electric-only mode close to home. The big plus in all of this is that when the family needs to venture far afield, the Pacifica Hybrid won’t need to be recharged along the way. Being a plug-in hybrid, it eliminates range anxiety from the equation completely.

Is the Pacifica Hybrid the ideal car? Is it faster than a Tesla Model X? No and no. But for those who don’t have $100,000 to shell out for a family hauler but want to add a touch of green living to our lifestyle, it may be the perfect choice.

Source: Cars.com

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Jim Smith

    Took the family to Disney World a month ago and we had a rental Pacifica. Granted it was a stripper model, but the interior felt and looked cheap. The exterior is sharp looking. The wife’s van has around 84k on it so we have a couple years until she needs something new. I really hope there are more choices then as we were not impressed with the poor interior quality.

    • Steve Hanley

      Sorry to hear that. Quality is not a word often associated with Chrysler products. However, I have friends who drive cross country regularly in their T&C van and love it. Perhaps in non-rental car trim it is more customer friendly inside.

    • Wallace

      You are comparing a stripped model? The top Pacifica Hybrid comes with captain chairs in the middle. That is luxury. This is why the top Pacifica Hybrid looks much much better than the gas version. I would rather have leather captain chairs over the thin stow n go seats.

      • Jim Smith

        i am focused on the dashboard and center console. Those do not change much between models.

  • If you need to schlep some 4X8 sheets of plywood or a pool table, you will need to physically remove the middle row bench seat. That’s not an easy task but it’s a chore that should arise infrequently.

    I think the PH would be a decent delivery/work van for many people, though Chrysler will probably not market it as such.