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.
“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.