2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited S Appearance Package Review By Bruce Hotchkiss +VIDEO
I wonder what the "S" stands for?
By Bruce Hotchkiss*
West Coast Bureau
The Auto Channel
I'll never understand car model names. Take the Chrysler Pacifica. Not that it is a bad name. Far from it. I used to live in Pacifica, CA so the name conjures up a coastal vision. But why did the name 'Pacifica' replace 'Town & Country'? The very fact that I wonder these things is probably one reason no one ever asks me to assign names.
Let me address one issue right off the bat. It's not a negative, nor a positive. I'm just over hybrids. In my opinion hybrids had their time, but the time has passed. We all got used to the idea of electric vehicles because of hybrids. With the proliferation of pure electrics, I don't really see much of a future for hybrids. Just my opinion!
None of this takes anything away from the Pacifica. I judge it on its merits regardless of how it is powered. And again, in my opinion, it does quite well.
I remember the first Chrysler minivans. They were innovative, and they sold like the proverbial hotcakes. But they really weren't that good, and not any worse than much of the competition. That was a long time ago and Chrysler has come a long way since then.
My original first driving impression was how loose the Pacifica felt. Body structures used to flex like crazy. One company I worked for had a model we used to call the 'flexible flyer'. But no more. Today's solid body structure minimizes the chance of squeaks and rattles down the road.
Let's take a look at what motivates the Pacifica Hybrid. The gas engine is a 3.6-liter, 60-degree, dual overhead cam V6. The total system power is 260 horse power. There are 3 power sources; the gas engine, and two electric motors. Other than being extra quiet when the electric motors are the source of propulsion, you wouldn't know what was powering the Pacifica.
You won't get far in total electric mode; 30 plus miles is the electric range. Essentially, the electric motors assist the gas engine allowing it to allegedly return better fuel economy, while upping performance. I say allegedly, because I saw a "best of" just shy of 28 mpg on the highway, and the gasoline only version of the Pacifica is rated at 28 mpg highway. It's virtually the same.I will admit that most hybrids favor city driving so I would expect the Pacifica Hybrid to better the gas engine version's 19 mpg around town. My around town driving was limited, so I can't really confirm this.
My first impression of the interior was "OMG! Who chose this color?" The test Pacifica Limited had what Chrysler calls the 'Red S Appearance Package' that include Rodeo Red seats among other things. It is a brilliant red/orange color that almost hurt my eyes. I'm just not that wild, especially first thing in the morning.
Ignoring the seat color (not easy to do) I found the interior very comfortable and accommodating. There are two very comfortable, 8-way power adjusted, heated and cooled, front seats; two center bucket seats, and a split-bench rear seat. The center and rear seats are Chrysler's 'Stow N Go' and fold flat giving a huge cargo area of 140.5 cubic feet behind the front seats.
The large touch screen (10.1") houses just about everything except the volume and tuner control for the sound system (round knobs!). The only control that I didn't like was the seat heating/cooling touch buttons. They are small and I had to take my eyes off the road to use them.
I am not your normal mini-van, SUV, or cross-over buyer. I don't have a large family nor do I travel with a ton of stuff. Yet more often than not I find myself at home in a vehicle like the Pacifica. It was easy to get in and out of, and it drove better than many sport sedans of the not too distant past.
The 2021 Pacifica Hybrid Limited with S Appearance Package that I drove, lists for $50,825 including destination charge. A hybrid adds in the neighborhood of $5,000 to a non-hybrid Pacifica. Frankly I don't see the value. If you don't drive like an idiot, you're going to get decent fuel economy without the hybrid powertrain. And if you tow anything, the hybrid is out of the question because it's not recommended by the manufacturer. On the other hand, the non-hybrid model can tow up to 3,600 lbs.
The least expensive Pacifica starts at $35,045. You can start from there and build your Pacifica. My ultimate opinion is the Chrysler Pacifica is a good choice for a full-size car, but skip the hybrid.
*Author's Note: I have been writing car reviews since 1984. I am a Certified Automotive Technician although I no longer ply that trade. I worked for twenty years for the California Department of Consumer Affairs & Bureau of Automotive Repair. I sat on three legislative advisory committees. I wrote an automotive column for the Tracy Press, and before that the Pacifica Tribune. I was a member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada and am a member of the Western Automotive Journalists.