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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (84 eMPG) First Review By Larry Nutson +VIDEO

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SEE ALSO: Find 2017 Cars, SUVs, Pickups and Minivans With Seating For Large Families

Editor's Note: Can the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid's 84 eMPG, good looks, economical cost per mile, practicality, power, range, performance, options, 15-year/150,000-mile on emissions components and 10-year/150,000-mile on battery, warranty, be enough "good stuff" to help today's independent minded woman to overcome the ubiquitous gender-wide "Soccer Mom's anti-minivan mindset? Will the Pacifica's assets help the Soccer Dad convince Mom give up her SUV because it really does offer enough benefits to allow her to once again consider her family's comfort, a minivan's conveniences and a minivan's practicality and embrace becoming the owner of a "best-for-the-family and best-for-the-environment Pacifica minivan?...stay tuned

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (84 eMPG) Minivan
A hybrid for the rest of us

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

What does that mean? The hybrid for the rest of us!

Well, what comes to mind when you think of a hybrid family vehicle? Perhaps a sedan, somewhat smallish in size, that works well for one person to drive to their job each day. Or perhaps a more expensive luxury sedan that costs a lot more to get some lower fuel consumption when driving, for the most part, at lower speeds around a city. Oh yeah, there are hybrid taxis too,

When Chrysler conducted customer focus group research, common feedback according to Matt McAlear, Chrysler’s Senior Manager for Brand Product Marketing was that the Pacifica Hybrid would be a vehicle that works for everyone in every family, It was “the hybrid for the rest of us.”

The all-new 2017 Pacifica minivan arrived earlier this year with much acclaim and is said to have raised the bar in the minivan segment, a segment that represents about a half-million total sales a year---mostly Chryslers. There’s no domestic or European brand minivan. There are minivans from Toyota, Honda and Kia, but none offer a hybrid powertrain.

Chrysler invited me along with other automotive writers to spend a day with their Pacifica designers and engineers and to drive the Pacifica Hybrid around the Los Angeles area to learn first-hand about this new model.

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The big news is of course the new powertrain for the Pacifica. To add some distinction to the Pacifica Hybrid the design team chose to add a unique front wave-pattern grille, unique flush-design 18-inch alloy wheels, teal blue accents in the wing badge and e-logo on the front fender charge port door and eHybrid badging on the rear liftgate.

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On the inside the teal color is carried through to accent stitching on the seats, steering wheel and instrument panel. Hybrids usually loose some functionality because the battery takes up cargo space. Not so with the Pacifica Hybrid. The battery is placed below the floor, in the center of the vehicle where the center stow’n go seats normally would fold. Instead, the Pacifica Hybrid comes with quad-seating, with two foldable center-row seats that are removable. Total seating capacity is for seven (2/2/3).

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The instrument cluster is new with no tachometer. The changeable display shows battery charge level, driving range, power flow, economy readouts and more. The center 8.4-inch touchscreen has added hybrid pages to monitor power flow and provide coaching on regenerative braking.

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Under the hood is Chrysler’s 3.6-L Pentastar V6 that has been modified and features an Atkinson cycle combustion system. This is paired with a dual-motor eFlite electrically variable transmission. There are two electric motors driving the vehicle through a planetary gear set and a one-way clutch.

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The 16-kWh battery pack is stored under the second-row floor and can be recharged through a front fender port. The regenerative braking system provides additional driving range by recharging the battery. Complete recharging can be with the included 120V Level-1 charger taking fourteen hours or with a dealer available 240V Level-2 charger taking two hours.

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Driving range is 33 miles all-electric with a full battery charge. The Pacifica Hybrid received an official EPA rating of 84 MPGe per gallon equivalent. Total driving range for e plus gasoline engine operation is 566 miles.

Because Pacifica Hybrid could feasibly be driven for weeks or months using just the battery power, the system constantly monitors the average age of fuel in the tank. If needed, the Pacifica Hybrid will automatically shift from electric to hybrid mode to cycle through any fuel that is more than 90 days old, eliminating the need to add a fuel stabilizer – meaning one less thing to think about.

We drove the Pacifica Hybrid first on city-street routes within urban Los Angeles and then out to more suburban roads and highways. Chrysler designed the Pacifica Hybrid to seamlessly and automatically switch between all-electric and gasoline operation. With a charge in the battery, whether it be full or partial, the Pacifica Hybrid drives on the electric motors at speeds up to 75 mph. When charge is depleted the gas engine switches on….unnoticeably.

Total system power is estimated at 260HP. My driving partner and I were quite satisfied with the ability of the hybrid system to deliver good acceleration, hill climbing, highway on-ramp merging as well as passing. The Pacifica overall is very quite with little tire or wind noise disturbing our conversation and listening to the audio system. The all-electric running is virtually silent although there’s a bit of a gentle whir sound. Climbing hills later in our drive route when we had depleted the battery you can hear the gasoline engine doing its job, but not disturbingly. On a long downhill run from the heights above the Pacific down to the coast we recharged the battery using the regenerative braking system to 15-percent that gave us another 8 or 9 miles of pure electric driving.

The all-new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will come in two models; a Premium trim priced at $41,995 and a Platinum trim priced at $44,995. Both qualify for the $7,500 Federal income tax credit, as well as incentives offered by various states. Chrysler expects that the typical Pacifica buyer would have a total tax liability such that they would get the full $7,500 credit at the time of tax filing. With that the Pacifica Hybrid pricing falls in the range where 47 percent of all minivan segment sales are.

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A hybrid-exclusive is a smart phone app that lets you see charge status and scheduling, charging station locations, and allows you to pre-condition the interior (heat or cool) so that when you are ready to drive the interior is comfortable.

The Pacifica Hybrid has transferable warranty coverage of 15-year/150,000-mile on emission components and 10-year/150,000-mile on the battery.

In September I reported on my drive of the Pacifica with the standard 3.6-L gasoline engine and you can read that right here. More information and specs on the entire Pacifica line can be found at The Pacifica Hybrid is expected to be in dealer in early 2017.

If you are in the market for a minivan you just might want to wait a bit and check out the Pacifica Hybrid. The seamless operation of the powertrain, the everyday around town all-electric driving, the 530-mile vacation road trip all can be done in this, the industry’s and the world’s first electrified minivan.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

This report comes from an invitation-only Chrysler launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. FCA-North America provided my overnight accommodations, meals, and transportation.