Electric Vehicle Review 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid


After pioneering the minivan segment in 1983, Chrysler is still in it and still on the ball, offering the only plug-in hybrid minivan you can buy. Here it is. This is the Pacifica hybrid, we’re going to take a look today. This Pacifica hybrid is in the new range topping pinnacle trim, but all Pacificas for 21 gets some styling updates, including a refresh grill with a large opening and this black mesh finish in there. We got LED headlights now, and a styled up lower bumper piece. Moving to the side, we’ll see some new designs for the wheels. You can get up to 20 inches. These are eighteens on this pinnacle, and then up here for the hybrid, you do get your plugin port. There’s a silver finish for these mirror caps and that same finish is on the window surrounds, and up here on these roof rails.

At the back is this new LED tail lamp that spans the entire tailgate to fall in line with some Dodge vehicles that do the same thing. Down here we’ve got a silver finish for the diffuser, and that same silver finish is on the Chrysler badge. The styling updates for 21 don’t dramatically change the Pacifica stance, but it does look a bit more upright, more like an SUV, and that’s what people want these days. The standard Pacifica uses a 3.5 liter V6 pair with a nine speed automatic gearbox, about 287 horsepower. The hybrid version swaps that nine speed for a CVT transmission, bundling two electric motors within that. And so the output is 260 horsepower somehow detuned with electric motors, I’m not sure how. Two hundred and thirty five pound for the torque, 0 to 60 is going to take 8.2 seconds top speed, if you care, is 111 mph.

More importantly, the fuel economy is 30 combined. If you go with the MPG rating, it’s 82 and 32 miles of all electric range. Inside the Pacifica hybrid, we find a really attractive cabin, just very nicely designed this new dashboard, and all Pacificas are going to get this new 10 inch Uconnect 5 system, which is just so crystal clear, very easy to use, very responsive. I love this system. They also all get a full suite of active safety features, including automatic emergency breaking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist. It’s a really nice package. They also all get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto. But it’s this pinnacle trim that I want to talk about, because this cabin is beautiful.

We’ve got this quilted nappa leather seating, heating and ventilated for these front seats, heated steering wheel, a sway headliner up here, wireless smartphone charging. Four USB ports in this cubby there, two more in here, two more in the second row and two more in the third row. Then there’s this gorgeous panoramic sunroof, and even the third row gets their own little moon roof that they get to open up. There’s also a 360 degree surround view camera system and 20 speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Now, one thing I didn’t see in this cabin that I would expect to be here, is a digital rear view mirror. I think that makes a lot of sense in a minivan where you’re going to be packed, full of kids and stuff. You want to be able to see through that out the back. You don’t have that in the Chrysler.

And how could I forget the fam cam? This new feature allows you to spy on your kids, and even go into one individual’s seat on the monitor here. And so, “I can see what you’re doing, Billy and I don’t like it.” If you have the key on you, you can use the hands free opening of these doors, just kick on the sensor and they slide right open and you get access to the second row. And this is a very nice second row. You’ve got the same quilted leather for the seats. And unlike the first row, you get your own quilted leather lumbar pillows with suede on the back. These are very, very nice, as these twin armrests. You can really enjoy the captain’s chairs. You can recline them if you want to, of course you can fold them forward to get access to a more flat load floor.

But you don’t get a completely flat load floor like you do in the regular Pacifica with these sto and go second row because they had to find a spot for the battery and it is beneath these. So if you want a completely flat floor, you got to take the seat completely out. You do get to slide these seats forward or backward if you need more room. In the third row or in the second row, these passengers do get their own touchscreen and a third zone of climate control. The problem is that the climate control is on this side. So that means that Billy over here is going to have to fight with Susie over here as to who gets to adjust the climate, and I don’t think the parents are going to want to hear that argument. Two other nifty features while I’m back here, this sliding drawer can reveal just cup holders or come all the way out for a nice big basin to store some things.

And these front two seats can slide all the way forward at the press of a button. And the best use for that feature is if you wanted to take yourself a nice little nap. Things are still nice in the third row. First of all, you got leg room and head room. Even with the seat all the way back, like in this position here, I still have leg room at six feet tall. You also still have the quilted leather chairs, very nice. No heating or anything like that. You do have that moon roof that I mentioned earlier. You also get two USB ports back here, but just like the second row climate control, it’s all the way on the right hand side. So that means you got Jimmy and Janet now, arguing over who gets to charge their smart device. At least they won’t have to argue about who gets a sun shade, that’s on both sides, and who gets to recline their seats.

Now minivan always has one thing in spades and that’s cargo space. So behind the third row in the Pacifica, you’re going to get 32.3 cubic feet of space, and you do have the sto and go for these seats. So these will fold all the way down. And when you have both of the third row seats folded flat, you’ve got 87.5 cubic feet of space. If you need more, you can take out that second row captain’s chair set and get 105 cubic feet of space. So I mentioned the Pacifica hybrid is the only plug-in hybrid in the segment, but unlike most plug-in hybrids, you don’t have the choice of when to use that electric mileage. So Chrysler was just saying that they interviewed their customers and their customers thought it was too confusing, or they just didn’t want to be bothered having to choose when to use the electric power.

So that’s why in the Pacifica hybrid they just said, “Well, the car will just decide when to use that electric range.” You’ve got 32 miles, but you can’t save it for like city driving for example, the most useful part for electric driving range. Instead, it may just be used up in the first 32 miles of your commute on the highway. And while that’s fine, that means you’re not maximizing the fuel economy. That’s probably why the Pacifica hybrid only gets 30 combined MPG, whereas something more like a traditional hybrid, the new Toyota Sienna hybrid gets a 36 combined MPG. So one thing to keep in mind. But as driving experience goes, the Pacifica hybrid is a really pleasant vehicle to motor around. The suspension where you care about a lot if you’re spending significant amount of time in the driver’s seat, is really very supple.

Soaks up the road blemishes really easily. It’s very easy to place on the road, easy to stay within your lane, easy to know the dimensions of the vehicle. And these seats are just so nice and comfortable. This is what a minivan is supposed to do. It’s just supposed to be pleasant motoring around town. The Pacifica hybrid does that very, very well. And if you need the power, it’s there, 260 horsepower of it, or is there. You just have to wait a second for it to get the vehicle moving, and the breaking feel, it’s a little light on the brakes. But if you get your foot hard down on the brake pedal, then it will slow the vehicle down, don’t you worry. And the handling is to be expected for a minivan, just acceptable. Don’t worry in an emergency situation, you’ll be able to dart where you need to go, but don’t be looking for any auto cross courses in the Pacifica hybrid.

Visibility however is excellent. It’s a minivan, what do you expect? Big, tall glass, so easy to see out of. Again, a digital rear view mirror would be very nice, but you can get by it because the standard visibility is awesome. And let’s talk competition for the Pacifica hybrid. The only direct arrival, actually there’s no other plug-in hybrid minivans, but there is one other hybrid minivan on sale, it’s the 21 Toyota Sienna hybrid. And that does it with a traditional hybrid setup, and it makes 245 horsepower. The starting figure for that one is 35,000 and some change to compare. The Pacifica hybrid starting figure is 41,000 and some change as tested. This is a $50,000 minivan however. Back to the Sienna though, 36 combined MPG in the cargo space is pretty generous at 34 cubic feet, just behind the third row.

If we want to talk about another minivan, a non-hybrid, it’s another big one, the Honda Odyssey, and that’s going to start around $33,000. It’s going to make 280 horsepower though. The most power of the set, and it’s fuel economy is going to be not as great, 23 combined MPG, the cargo space is right around the same 33 cubic feet behind the third row. So with those competitors laid out there, I think the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid stacks up very nicely with an upscale exterior, really nice and plush interior, and that all electric range of a plug-in hybrid. It does very well here, and I think you should consider it.