2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: 32 Miles Of Electric Minivan Goodness
The versatility of a minivan with the fuel economy of a small sedan.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the only plug-in hybrid minivan available today, and has been since its inception in 2017. We recently had the opportunity to drive one for a week, courtesy of a media loan from Chrysler, and wanted to see how good a plug-in vehicle the Pacifica Hybrid is.
The Pacifica Hybrid has a 16 kWh battery(total capacity), of which a little over 12 kWh is usable. It’s EPA-range rated at 32 miles per charge and we nearly averaged that many miles per charge during our time with the vehicle. We were impressed by the range because we were driving it in temperatures in the 20s and 30s (-4°C to 1°C) when EVs typically lose 20-25% of their all-electric range.
The 32-mile driving range puts the Pacifica Hybrid up near the top of the list of all-electric driving range for plug-in hybrids of any kind. When you realize that Chrysler came out with the Pacifica Hybrid 4 years ago when many PHEVs had 10-20 miles of driving range, that’s even more impressive.
Robust onboard charger
Chrysler equipped the Pacifica Hybrid with a 6.6 kW onboard charger, enabling the vehicle to fully recharge from zero in two hours from a level 2 charging source. Very few PHEVs have more than a 3.6 kW onboard charger and many take as long to charge at a fully electric vehicle because of the slow charging. We just finished reviewing the BMW X5 xDrive 45e, and while we mostly liked the vehicle the 3.6 kWh charging left us wanting the ability to recharge the vehicle faster.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but I loved how the Pacifica Hybrid drove – I must be getting old or something. The quick throttle response from the electric drive and smooth, blended regenerative braking system made driving the Pacifica Hybrid a pleasure.
The base trim for the Pacifica is called Touring. The Gasoline-only Pacifica is $4,950 less than the Hybrid, but the Hybrid qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit, and in many cases, additional state incentives. Additionally, according to FuelEconomy.gov, the Hybrid will save its owners about $3,500 in fuel expense in five years of ownership.
Video timestamps of note:
- @2:08 No selectable “Electric Only” Drive Mode
- @3:25 16 kWh Battery
- @3:35 6.6 kW onboard charger
- @4:18 Full recharge in 2-hours with 30-amp Level 2 EVSE
- @5:15 No “ChargePort Flap Open” warning
- @7:00 No 2nd Row Stow And Go
- @7:58 Interior volume
No selectable “electric-only” drive mode
This was a big miss in our opinion. Just about every PHEV available allows the driver to select an “electric-only” mode and the vehicle will operate entirely on battery unless the driver fully depresses the accelerator. In that case, the ICE turns on to aid the electric powertrain and deliver the additional power that was requested by the driver.
The Pacifica Hybrid always determines the driving mode; all-electric or hybrid, and automatically switches between those modes in an effort to maximize efficiency. I often take short 8-mile round trips to my town’s center and would prefer to manually turn the ICE off for then short journeys, but the Pacifica Hybrid wouldn’t allow me to do so. Since it was cold, the ICE would always fire up to aid in heating the vehicle.
No “Flap Open” warning
It’s easy to forget to close the chargeport flap on an EV – I’ve done it dozens of times. I can see that happening even more with a vehicle like the Pacifica Hybrid because owners are quite often herding a few little ones as they are unplugging the vehicle and getting set for a drive.
Many EVs today will offer a visual warning if you turn the vehicle on with the chargeport flap still open. It’s a needed warning, in my opinion, and can save the owner from an expensive repair. I’m speaking from experience on this.
Ten years ago I has an all-electric MINI Cooper, the MINI-E on lease, and one day I was charging outside and unplugged during a rainstorm and drove home without closing the flap. The chargeport had to be replaced and the parts and labor were nearly $3,000. Luckily, I didn’t have to pay for it because I was in a pilot program for BMW at the time and all repairs – even those caused by negligence, were covered by BMW.
Not available in all-wheel-drive
The top two trim levels for the Pacifica are Limited and Pinnacle. The non-hybrid Pacifica comes in AWD in those trims, but that’s not the case for the Pacifica Hybrid, as they are only available in front-wheel-drive.
Overall we think the Pacifica Hybrid is a winner. With incentives, it costs less than the regular Pacifica, annual fuel costs should be about $700 less, the performance is better, and when driving in all-electric mode it’s quieter, smoother, and more responsive. If you have the ability to charge an EV at home, don’t require an AWD vehicle, and are interested in a Pacifica, we highly recommend taking a long, hard look at the Hybrid. It’s a better vehicle and your overall total cost of ownership will be less.
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