|The stylish Pacifica looks great in both conventional and Hybrid trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Case in point, the 300 is the perennial Canadian bestseller in both the mainstream full-size luxury sedan class and the mid-size premium E-segment (it arguably fits into either depending how you load it up). It obviously targets its audience very well. The Pacifica minivan hasn’t been so fortunate thus far, and due to the slow take-rate of electrified vehicles this new plug-in variety even less so, but to Chrysler’s credit the conventionally-powered model’s sales have been growing since a new entry-level trim was introduced, and base pricing concurrently came down.
|The sleek Pacifica cheats the wind. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
To be clear, I’m talking a serious lead here. Since January 1st, Canadian FCA dealers have sold more than three-and-a-half times as many Grand Caravans as the next best selling Toyota Sienna, almost six-and-a-half times the Honda Odyssey,
|Quad halogen headlamps incorporate auto high beams in Platinum trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
As noted, Pacifica sales are steadily growing, the newcomer quickly outpacing Kia’s Sedona and rapidly approaching Odyssey sales numbers. This makes sense as the Pacifica is now the industry’s best minivan, or at least that’s what this auto writer thinks. Word about its goodness still needs to get out amongst import buyers that currently place the Grand Caravan at the bottom of the heap due to its old design and discount pricing (but shouldn’t, as it’s still an excellent van) and therefore
|These chunky 18-inch rims come as part of the top-line Platinum upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Our $56,495 Velvet Red Pearl painted Pacifica Hybrid Platinum tester included most everything offered in base $52,495 Hybrid Premium trim, such as auto on/off quad-halogen headlights, LED DRLs, fog lamps, LED taillights, a Stow ‘n Place roof rack, remote start, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, overhead ambient surround lighting with LED courtesy lamps, a 12-way powered driver’s seat with four-way powered lumbar, heatable front seats, a clear, colourful and feature-filled 7.0-inch configurable in-cluster multi-info display, tri-zone auto climate control, massive 8.4-inch touchscreen
|This door leads to potential fossil fuel freedom. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
On top of these items Platinum trim adds more chrome exterior trim, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, proximity-sensing hands-free for the side doors and liftgate, a more upscale interior with contrast stitching in key areas, a stunning two-tone heated leather and genuine metal trimmed steering wheel (seriously, this is one of the best steering wheels in the industry), rain-sensing wipers, navigation with mapping,
|LED taillights are standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Additionally, the Platinum includes a host of Advanced SafetyTec features such as auto high beam headlights, dynamic cruise control with low speed follow plus stop and go functionality, forward-collision warning with autonomous braking, advanced brake assist, lane departure warning with active lane keep assist (some of these features causing the removal of active grille shutters that come with the base
|Attractive two-tone interior is nicer than anything else in the minivan class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
For reasons unknown Chrysler didn’t totally load up my Pacifica Hybrid tester with its available tri-pane panoramic glass sunroof, and due to not having a working online configuration tool at the time of writing there’s no way to give you price. I checked south of the border and saw it available for $1,795 USD, so I’m guessing around $2k here.
Options in mind, the top-line Pacifica Hybrid Platinum is devoid of some additional key features that caused me to enjoy my previous Pacifica Limited model more, albeit these are not available in this electrified van at all. The list of missing items includes
|A comfortable, high-quality cabin includes luxury finishings and superior tech. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Unlike the regular Pacifica, the Hybrid gets a 32A socket on the left front fender for recharging its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery that powers an innovative dual-motor eFlite electrically variable transmission (EVT), which allows just over 50 kilometers of EV driving before automatically transforming into a regular gasoline-electric hybrid by letting the specially designed low-friction,
|This 7-inch configurable display is standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Its estimated 2.6 Le/100km combined city/highway fuel economy (when factoring in EV driving) is best in class by far, as is its total possible range of 911 km, which makes it the ideal choice for family road trips (we took a load of friends to a local tulip
|A 360-degree surround camera system is included with the Platinum. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It takes about two hours to recharge the battery with a 240-volt Level 2 charger, these available for your home from your FCA dealer or via aftermarket sources, or you can find them (for free most of the time) in front of shopping malls, government buildings, hotels, some retail stores like Walmart and Ikea, or curbside in most urban centres. Alternatively you can plug it into a regular 120-volt socket at home or work, at which point you’ll need about 14 hours to top it up from empty (it can’t manage Level 3 “superchargers”).
When doing so, a big charge indicator on top of the dash lets you know that all systems
|This space-saving dial selects gears. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Other than the trip out to the Fraser Valley (about an hour and a quarter each way, including picking up and dropping off friends along the way), I spent about half of my time behind the wheel in EV mode (as life would have it, we were too busy to regularly recharge and can’t do so from home). Still, its first full charge lasted for a couple of days of errand hopping, and various quick top-ups minimized fuel usage the rest of the time.
|The Platinum’s heated and cooled Nappa leather seats are fabulously comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Second-row captain’s chairs are comfortable, but they don’t fold into the floor due to the Hybrid’s battery. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Of note, both Pacifica models ride on FCA’s new Compact U.S. Wide platform architecture that’s comprised of a rigid framework formed from 84-percent high-strength steel and four-percent aluminum, plus front MacPherson struts and an
|Dual flip-up screens with stock content make for one of the best rear seat entertainment systems yet. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’ve mentioned the lack of second-row Stow ‘n Go seats a couple of times already, and while I initially thought this would be a deal-breaker for me if I were to buy a Chrysler van again (I’ve owned a Caravan and also helped my mom purchase her Pacifica), I’m no longer completely convinced. The thing is, I tend to use the large vehicles in my life for hauling stuff around, which is why I’m a big proponent of FCA’s Stow ‘n Go seating system (I wouldn’t consider a minivan without it), so when faced with the prospect of bringing a full-size Ikea Kivik sofa home, which measures
|Even the rearmost seats are roomy and comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I started by removing one seat, which was an easy process that came as second nature after living with the aforementioned Caravan for three years, although when carrying it to the garage I found it heavier than I remembered, probably due to my previous experience being 20 years ago when my then-new 1996 Caravan was utilized by a much younger, fitter driver (I’ve really got to get back to the gym). I was midway to the garage when an idea came to mind: what would happen if I were to flip over the seat I was carrying and put it on top of the seat that was still attached to the van’s floor? I turned around and did just that (after pulling
|Third-row sunscreens are a nice touch. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Still, faced with the dilemma of choosing between this Pacifica Hybrid Platinum’s superb fuel economy and the greater versatility, many more high-end features, and lower initial cost of the Pacifica Limited, I’d probably opt for the conventionally powered minivan, just like most Canadian consumers. Then again it’s
|If you don’t manually remove the second-row seats, this is the Hybrid’s maximum cargo capacity. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
So my advice to you is as follows: first, if you’re planning to purchase a new seven-passenger crossover SUV, consider a minivan instead as they’re way more useful unless you must have AWD; second, if you’ve decided to buy a minivan make sure to test the new Pacifica as it’s the best, as noted; third, make sure to spend time in the regular Pacifica as well as this new Pacifica Hybrid, as they’re both worthy of your attention yet still quite different from each other.
|Chrysler should call this Stow ‘n Go remedy, "Stack ‘n Go". (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
That’s a tall order, but in the meantime we’re all treated to a very innovative plug-in hybrid drivetrain powering a brilliantly executed minivan.
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