The rise of the crossovers are subjecting the existence of the minivan era to a near and hopeless end. The concept that was formed in the eighties when growing families needed more rows of seats with easy access and more space to lose food crumbs forever has been overtaken by the misconception of high riding crusaders that endured a false sense of security and safety. Therefore, if the inkling of the minivan is to stay significant in this fading stage, it’s time to up the ante.
With the official elimination of the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, a name from the ashes has reappeared to the Chrysler brand. The once, ahead of its time, Pacifica was a beacon of the crossover era – its ‘supersize me’ demeanor and frumpy personality was true to our American idealism during its time. But now, the name attached to its new found trunk lid bolted to the body of a minivan gives the name a whole new connotation.
With the Pacifica being on sale since the later part of 2017, we’ve had our fair share of behind the wheel experiences from the entry-level Touring to the eHybrid Plug-In powertrain. For 2019, the Pacifica is stepping its mommy-wagon craze and flowing into dad mojo ways. The top-trimmed Limited with the eHybrid system now is offered with the ‘S’ Appearance Package that increases the level of curb appeal up to ten. With dark graphite wheels, black housed headlights, ‘S’ trimmed black interior Nappa leather seats and its new Ocean Blue paint, the Pacifica is one bluster wagon that perhaps it just might be a little too cool for school.
Now, we could go into what makes the Pacifica a new-generation kind of minivan with all the latest kid tricks it has up its sleeve like the touch screen rear entertainment system with multi-app based functionality and smartphone streaming capabilities, or to its triple sunroof system that makes calling shotgun so 90’s, or even the optional vacuum to scoop up those pesky Nature Valley bar crumbs that just always seem to find a new home. Every minivan has some new gimmick and up-to-date technology that’ll keep everyone safe and entertained. But what those others minivans don’t have is a plug-in hybrid system.
This unique system operates similar to the technology used in a Chevrolet Volt or Toyota Prius Prime – a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine works alongside an electric motor and series of Atkinson batteries. When fully charged, the Pacifica can run on its electric motor for 32 miles before the gas engine plays it part. Once the electricity runs out, the eHybrid system works like a conventional hybrid system with the engine and electric motor working together to provide maximum efficiency and performance. At 260-horsepower, it’s not like the Pacifica breaks a sweat either when it comes to hauling a large load of kids or cargo in the back. Foot to the floor, and the Pacifica becomes one quick go-getter getting to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds – all that 235 lb-ft of torque from the electric & gas engine gives it that much needed thrust to move about.
For a minivan, it’s surprisingly agile and well converse. Its handling dynamics showcase precision steering and well-controlled body rolls that rides as if it’s floating on cloud 9. The hybrid system on the other hand isn’t quite as smooth as its suspension. Its on-off sequence can be a little dramatic, sitting at a stop, the system can shutter the entire cabin, even cause it to lurch forwards at times. Because the batteries are located beneath the floor, we lose out on the notorious Stow-N-Go storage – this causes the traditional ways of either removing the heavy seats manually if more cargo capacity is required. The results however leave us with a positive outcome. We averaged 30 MPGe during our highway test and during our day-to-day routine we observed nearly 80 MPGe combined.
Settling at $50,625, the Pacifica is more than just a minivan – it’s a luxury oasis for those that still enjoy the dual-sliding rear doors and comfortable convenience of a minivan. Loaded with all the advance safety features and entertainment tech to keep the passengers contained, the Pacifica restores our faith in that driving a minivan doesn’t have to be shameful when pulling up to the PTA Meeting with a juice box in hand.
Model: 2019 CHRYSLER PACIFICA PLUG-IN HYBRID
Starting Price: $39,995 – Hybrid Touring Plus
As Tested: $50,625 – HYBRID LIMITED w/ ‘S’ APPEARANCE PACKAGE
Engine: 3.6-LITER V-6, ATKINSON-CYCLE ELECTRIC MOTOR
Horsepower/Torque: 260-HORSEPOWER / 235 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: CVT (CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE TRANSMISSION – AUTOMATIC)
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 33-CITY / 32-HWY / 32-COMBINED / 84-GAS-ELECTRIC COMBINED MPGe
(AS TESTED: 29.3 MPG COMBINED | 30 MPG – 200 MILE HIGHWAY TEST | 80 MPGe GAS & ELECTRIC COMBINED)
Fuel Range: 350 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±7.5 SECONDS