The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the first electrified vehicle in the minivan segment and achieves more than 80 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in electric-only mode, an all-electric range of more than 30 miles and a total range of more than 500 miles. (Chrysler photo)
Photo: FCA US LLC
Photo: FCA US LLC

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid offers family transportation, memories

College trip shows it’s an ideal vehicle for the road

This week’s review might be a little more heartfelt and a little more emotion-filled than usual. My wife and I (Mrs. Driversside) took our high school senior daughter on a college campus tour.

We’re soon to be empty nesters as she heads out of state to college next year. While we couldn’t be happier or prouder of her, we will miss her. So, knowing that we had a 10-hour drive from Ohio to North Carolina, I arranged for a vehicle to take us on this road trip. I wanted something fuel efficient, comfortable and spacious.

Chrysler came through with the ideal vehicle for this trip – the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. With suitcases in tow, pillows and blankets thrown about the second row (so the soon-to-college student could sleep for most of the trip), the Pacifica Hybrid will now have a special place in our family’s memories.

The Pacifica looks modern. It can almost be mistaken for a crossover as the looks are very similar. The front end is tame-looking. There’s no aggressive styling here, rather, it’s more low-key and elegant. Clearly Chrysler’s designers were going for a more subdued, timeless look rather than something with flash-in-the-pan styling. Mission accomplished in that regard.

The Pacifica Hybrid has two electric motors to assist the 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine. I had driven the non-hybrid version before and it was tame and adequate, but uninspiring. With the two electric motors, not only is the Pacifica Hybrid more fuel efficient, but it’s also peppier. Combined, there are 260 horses to power this minivan. I generally dislike continuously variable transmissions, but with this setup, the CVT worked well. The quirks of a CVT were less noticeable on long stretches of highway.

The biggest performance issue with the Pacifica was the sway. The longer wheelbase of this vehicle, as opposed to an SUV, made it vulnerable to winds and even in sharper turns felt less controlled. At some point even, the sway felt noticeable and my passengers popped a couple of Dramamine to thwart off some car sickness.

Inside, the Pacifica Hybrid was everything you could want or need for a long road trip. There were even two video screens on the back of the front seats, so the rear passengers could plug in devices, or use the built-in WiFi to watch videos. There were even games built in that kept the rear passengers amused.

Adaptability with devices through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto helped keep phones charged and teenagers connected to their friends and social media. The interior of the Pacifica was designed brilliantly with families in mind. The comfort, connectivity and technology were all you could ask for during a road trip.

The gorgeous tri-panel panoramic sunroof added nice light. Window shades could be pulled up on the rear windows when there was too much light that interfered with napping.

Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system is one of my favorites. It’s simple to use; the combination of touch commands, voice commands and standard knobs was easy and intuitive. The 7-inch color screen is well placed in the center stack and is responsive.

Heated and cooled seats came in handy as we went through varying temperature changes of mountains and beaches during our 10-hour trip to Wilmington, N.C.

As a plug-in, this minivan has the ability to drive completely gasoline-free for around a 32-mile range on a full charge. After our initial departure, I was unable to find places to plug it in and charge for any amount of time, resulting in less fuel efficiency for our trip.

As such, we mostly relied on the gasoline engine for our travels which totaled almost 1,300 miles roundtrip. We averaged nearly 34 mpg for the entirety of the trip and could’ve gotten that number well over 40 with more charging time. But we were on a mission to get where we wanted to go and didn’t want to stop to charge up. Average charge time for this van is about two hours.

Starting price for this fuel-efficient family hauler is $45,795. With optional equipment like an awesome 20-speaker Harmon-Kardon sound system plus the advanced safety group and entertainment system, my tester had a final MSRP of $50,975.

Family trips can be stressful. In our case, this one was memorable and emotional. I was glad to have the Pacifica Hybrid be part of this memory.

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