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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

Is the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Ready for Your Next Road Trip?

Chrysler and Dodge have been the official minivan automakers for the past forty years, selling over 15 million units since introducing the modern van in 1983. As their popularity faded due to the proliferation of family SUVs, the American automaker launched the first-ever plug-in hybrid minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica, in 2018. It still is the only PHEV version. Let's dive into the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Select Road Tripper, which has an MSRP of $70,988 and is built at the Windsor, ON plant.

Chrysler Pacifica PHEV
Photo by Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

Design-wise, the 2024 Pacifica has been restyled with LED running lights, a larger front grille with a darker emblem, and the lower bumper has been refined and includes the fog lights housing. The chrome accents are gone, giving the minivan a sportier look overall. The vehicle's profile has mostly stayed the same since 2017; the Road Tripper decal is neat, and the electric logo on the charging port is a nice touch. The 18-inch Luster Grey wheels, unique to this package, complete the look nicely. It is difficult to ignore the lightbar stretching across the back. In this Baltic Grey paint, the minivan has a stealthy look. While there was a genuine attempt to make this van look good, Chrysler could have pushed the envelope for a more modern and updated look.

The Chrysler Pacifica's interior is comfortable but is starting to look dated, which is disappointing for a vehicle at this price point. The doors and center console still share many parts with the old Dodge Grand Caravan or the Chrysler Town & Country, including the turn signals, wipers stock, window controls, and even the materials used on the dashboard. That said, the gauge cluster looks great, with the fuel gauge and electric tachometer combined with the 7-inch display, large enough to display essential information at any given time. The 10.1-inch touchscreen is large, compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, easy to use and responds quickly to the user's inputs. It also combines the climate controls, and the physical buttons are placed under the screen. The only downside is the need to look at the screen if you want to turn on or off the heated seats and heated steering wheel; it's a simple task that should have buttons on the control panel. On our test version, we also had Uconnect Theatre Family Group, a $4,995 option, which includes FamCam, displaying the rear occupants directly from the infotainment screen. The second-row passengers also get their 10-inch display on the backs of the front seats, with individual headphones and a remote. These screens have Amazon Fire TV built-in, allowing you to access Prime Video, YouTube, and Twitch, for example, without too much effort. You can also plug your devices in with the HDMI, USB ports, and power outlet. Finally, the 13-speaker Alpine sound system complements the ensemble harmoniously.

Photo by Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

Moving back to practicality, when you opt for a minivan, you want the most spacious vehicle available at a decent price, and the Chrysler Pacifica delivers. All the Chrysler minivans (including the Grand Caravan and the Voyager) come with seven seats; no eight-seat configuration is a miss, especially on the base variant. The seats are comfortable and large in the second row; in the back, they feel snug but still have plenty of headroom and legroom. The ISOFIX ports tucked in the seats are identified, and the rear anchors are accessible to the parent installing the car seat. The third row folds down thanks to the Stow 'n Go seats, but the second row does not, as the battery takes up space underneath. Instead, you get extra bins to store smaller items. It is still very spacious, as evidenced by its 906 L (32 ft3) cargo space with all seats in place.

Under the hood of the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid, you will find the 3.6L Pentastar V6 mated to an e-CVT and a pair of electric motors, which develop a total of 260 hp forwarded to the front wheels only. Unfortunately, the PHEV version isn't available with all-wheel drive; only the ICE version gets this feature. On the flip side, you get a decent 51 km of electric range on a full charge, thanks to its decent-sized 16 kWh battery pack. During our testing, the temperature oscillated around –5 and –10 degrees Celsius (14 to 25o F), and the gas engine had to start before switching to EV mode. That can be frustrating when you want to use as little gas as possible, but this way, the cabin heater doesn't rob you as much in terms of range. A quick note on charging: although there isn't a fast-charging port, it takes less than 3 hours to get back to a full charge on a standard level 2 charger.

J-1772 plug Chrysler Pacifica
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Performance-wise, this family-oriented vehicle has a 0-100kph time of roughly 8 seconds in a straight line. Otherwise, the acceleration is linear in EV mode; the engine is a little noisy but punchy, like the other versions of the Pacifica. You can increase the regenerative braking when putting the shifter on L. There is some oversteer when punching the accelerator, but the computer manages the instant torque quite easily. The braking is efficient. The steering and handling are surprising for a vehicle this size; thanks to its low center of gravity, you can easily take corners without leaning too much in the curve. Parking is also relatively easy, thanks to its light steering wheel. The suspension is stiff; we felt the bumps more than we like to. On the other hand, this improves ride quality and makes for a more pleasant drive, especially on the highway. A quick word on fuel economy: the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV is rated at 7.8 L/100km (30 mpg) on combined city and highway driving; we hovered at around 9 L/100km (26 mpg) during our testing, thanks in part to the colder temperatures.

Chrysler Pacifica PHEV fuel consumption
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Closing it out, the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV is still relevant thanks to its contemporary design, excellent interior room and great electric range for the size. It would be best to plug it in daily to benefit fully from the electric powertrain. Otherwise, the gasoline version would be a better choice. Reliability-wise, the first three years were challenging; nowadays, the necessary corrections have been made. A minivan is the best family hauler compared to SUVs: the question is, are you ready to experience it and never go back?

Chrysler Pacifica PHEV headlights
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Chrysler has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle for one week. We have no affiliation with Chrysler Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion of the car referred to above.

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