2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Plug and Play - Review By Larry Nutson
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Plug and Play
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
Will 2017 be the dawning of the age of automotive electrification?
I, along with many others, thought 2010 was going to be. But, it didn’t turn out that way. Why? The growth in EV and plug-in hybrid charging station infrastructure didn’t happen the way it was expected.
However, that didn’t stop major automakers from continuing to develop EVs, hybrids and plug-in hybrids. In the global business world of today, other nations are driving these developments. The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in major urban areas is in the forefront. And as the world’s population continues to re-urbanize this will become even more important.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the company credited with inventing the minivan segment more than 30 years ago, has been very busy. With the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica they reinvented the minivan segment with an unprecedented level of functionality, versatility, technology and bold styling.
Taking the minivan a step further, the Pacifica Hybrid provides a class-exclusive, innovative hybrid powertrain. It’s the first electrified vehicle in the minivan segment and achieves 84 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in electric-only mode and 33 miles of all-electric range.
The 33-mile electric-only range is plenty for most drivers’ daily commutes. And for that family vacation, the Pacifica Hybrid has plenty of room for families, young or older, and all the their toys and gear.
The Pacifica Hybrid has a 566-mile total gas and electric range. For me this was important since my wife and I would be taking a weekend road trip to visit family.
No range anxiety is a key strength of a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Or better put, the huge driving range is a really big plus. We would have no refueling stops along the way.
The Pacifica Hybrid uses 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’s wheels through a planetary gear set and a one-way clutch.
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.
The way Chrysler engineered the Pacifica Hybrid is that it runs off the battery just like a pure EV until the battery charge is depleted. Then the gas engine starts up and drives the vehicle. When my Pacifica Hybrid media-loaner arrived the battery was down from it being driven to me. But, no worries.
We set off on our road trip heading east from Chicago along the interstate to southeast Michigan. I had some past experience driving the Pacifica Hybrid on its launch program but this would be my first extended drive. What I soon realized was that even though the battery was too low to drive the vehicle, whenever I lifted off the throttle and decelerated the engine shut off and we went into electric driving mode.
For our 246 miles of driving, we had 224 miles on the gasoline engine and 22 miles on pure electric….right around 10%. Overall fuel economy was 30 mpg.
After a weekend of driving here and there and then back home again, we totaled 668 miles, with 576 gasoline-miles and 92 electric-miles…about 14% electric and averaging 28 mpg.
Upon return home I used a conveniently located Level 2 charger that’s about a mile away to charge the battery fully. I drove around for the next few days ending up traveling 37 miles in pure electric for an effective 63 mpg fuel economy.
Looking at these driving experiences begs the comparison to the non-hybrid gasoline engine Pacifica that has EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings of 18 city mpg, 28 highway mpg for a combined rating of 22 mpg. As is with hybrids, the best reductions in fuel consumption take place in urban-use, city-type driving,
The bottom line is that you can drive the Pacifica Hybrid every day on pure battery power and never use a drop of gasoline. With charging at home and at your workplace you could cover a bit better than 60 miles without using any gasoline.
For 2017, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is offered in Premium and Platinum models, starting at $41,995. With the available $7,500 federal tax credit, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid pricing theoretically starts as low as $34,495, not including any additional state or local incentives, making it lower priced than a comparable gasoline-engine Pacifica.
For 2018 all Pacifica trim levels have upgraded multimedia systems and a standard blind spot warning system with cross-traffic detection. The 2018 Pacifica Hybrid lineup consists of three models--Touring Plus, Touring L and Limited, which now aligns more directly with the entire Pacifica lineup.
Note that on 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. Therefore, the Pacifica Hybrid is available with quad-seating, with two foldable center-row seats that are removable. Total seating capacity is for seven (2/2/3).
More info and specs on the entire Pacifica line-up can be found at www.chrysler.com. No matter which model might best suit your driving needs I strongly recommend you purchase all the driver-assistance safety features that are offered. The cost of this safety equipment will be recovered if it saves you from just one car crash.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica has received many awards including being named the 2017 Family Vehicle of the Year by the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
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© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy