2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review

5 days ago by Jake Holmes 60

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Review: The No-Fuss Gas-Saver

The thriftiest version of an excellent minivan is still a great choice for hauling your family.

– Detroit, Michigan

Equipping a minivan with a plug-in hybrid powertrain makes all the sense in the world. After all, minivans often make short trips with lots of stop-and-go driving, so using regenerative brakes and ultra-efficient motors for those journeys is only logical. With a traditional gas engine on board, though, you can still load up your Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid for a cross-country road trip; because it’s not a full-electric car, there’s no range anxiety to speak of. The plug-in Pacifica is, then, perhaps the most practical version of a very practical vehicle.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Pros

Impressive efficiency. The Pacifica Hybrid uses very little gas, especially compared to other minivans. When you fully charge up the battery pack, you can drive as far as 33 miles without using a drop of gasoline. And when you do have to use the gas engine, the EPA rates the Pacifica Hybrid at 32 miles per gallon combined, which is also up from the 22 mpg combined rating of a non-hybrid Pacifica. Fully recharging the 16-kilowatt-hour battery takes only two hours on a Level 2 charger, so if you have a short commute or run lots of errands close to home, it would be possible to drive for a long time using only electricity.

Easy to use as a hybrid. To operate the Pacifica Hybrid, you simply get in, push the Start button, and twist the rotary shifter to Drive. There are no driving modes to mess with, no unusual procedures. It drives like a minivan and the computers do the thinking of improving efficiency. Everyday users – who may be new to PHEVs in general – will find this simplicity a bonus. Efficiency nerds and plug-in fanatics might be disappointed by the lack of ability to, say, force the Pacifica into EV mode or force it to use its gas engine, functions that are offered on other PHEVs.

It’s built on a great base. As Motor1 has expressed before, the Chrysler Pacifica is an excellent minivan. Abundant storage, easy ingress to the second and third rows, a capacious cargo area (32.3 cubic feet even with all rows of seats in use), and a comfortable ride make this an easy go-to recommendation for any family.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Responsive infotainment system. The Pacifica’s 8.4-inch touchscreen display is one of my favorites among all new cars. It responds quickly to finger presses; its big, clear graphics are easy to read at a glance; and all its integrated functions work easily. On this model in particular, I especially like the utility of the 360-degree camera system and the various on-screen controls for the rear entertainment screens.

Cons

Loosey-goosey steering. The Pacifica Hybrid’s exceptionally light and vague steering imparts no real sense of straight-ahead. I don’t get a great sense of directional control, and while low-speed urban maneuvers can be done with one finger, highway driving leaves a lot to be desired in terms of driver confidence.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Less stowing and going. Because the battery pack is mounted beneath the Pacifica’s floor, the hybrid model lacks the second-row Stow ‘N Go seat functionality. The third-row seats still fold into the floor, a wonderful feature that makes it easier to create a big, flat load floor for carrying big objects. The second-row seats can still be removed, but not as easily as in non-hybrid models with Stow ‘N Go. Depending on how you use your van, that could be an important difference.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

It’s expensive. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid only comes in two well-equipped models, Premium and the Platinum that I tested. But that means it’s a pretty expensive proposition, with the cheapest hybrid listing for $41,995 – though it is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax break, and potentially more if your state or city offers greater incentives. That’s a lot of cash for a minivan, even if non-hybrid models, like the fully loaded Pacifica Limited ($42,895) and Honda Odyssey EX-L Touring Elite ($45,325) also break the 40-grand barrier. While the hybrid will save you money on gas, it costs far more than a standard Pacifica up front; do your return-on-investment math accordingly.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Additional images here

Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com

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63 responses to "2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Test Drive Review"

  1. David Murray says:

    I didn’t realize it didn’t have a real EV mode.. that stinks.

    1. F150 Brian says:

      How does this not qualify as an EV mode?

      “When you fully charge up the battery pack, you can drive as far as 33 miles without using a drop of gasoline. “

      1. Kdawg says:

        At what speed?

      2. bro1999 says:

        Key word is “CAN”.

        I’m almost certain if you floor a Pacifica Hybrid with a full battery, the engine will kick on.

        1. bro1999 says:

          Yep, if you look at the Pacifica Hybrid’s official EPA ratings, the all-electric figure is “0-33 miles”. Which means the ICE can turn on even with a full battery (such as going WOT).

          https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=38491

          Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt’s all-electric range is simply listed as “53 miles”. Because the ICE won’t turn on in normal driving, even WOT, unless the battery is depleted.

            1. Kdawg says:

              But what’s the top EV speed in the Chrysler?

              1. Scramjett says:

                I believe I saw somewhere that it is up to 75 mph. Also, when accelerating, if you exceed 50% power, that’ll kick the engine on as well. I believe the power gauge is supposed to show the transition point as well.

          1. georgeS says:

            Bro, Kdawg,

            Good question on when the gas engine comes on. Too bad the Mobile 1 guy didn’t test that.

            He should have done some 1-70 MPH accels at different throttle settings and figured out where the engine kicks in.

            How big are the electric motors used in EV mode? That would give us an idea.

            1. georgeS says:

              Looks like the electric motors are 85 and 63 kw. It looks like it operates like the Volt where both motors drive in EV mode so total EV mode power would be 148 kw.

              Not bad. I bet it would stay in EV mode during an accel at 1/2 or 3/4 throttle.

      3. David S. says:

        As long as you don’t ask for too much power and don’t use the cabin heater…

        1. David S. says:

          With a fully recharged battery, at 27 degrees on a 3 mile trip, you could end up using gas all the time, as demonstrated here:
          http://roulezelectrique.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/TableaudeBord2-pp.jpeg

    2. Tom says:

      Please read the article. It simply says the modes are chosen automatically rather than having a bunch of confusing driver initiated modes. Soccer moms aren’t going to be wanting to fuss with that stuff.

      1. stimpy says:

        There would be no detriment to those soccer moms if FCA included an *optional* forced EV mode. They could simply ignore it.

        Just like that found on other PHEVs.

        1. John says:

          Or, like my wife, accidentally put it in some mode she can’t figure out how to get it out of and have to call me at work. Why is it Apple gets applauded for idiot proofing something and then Chrysler takes heat.

          1. philip d says:

            There are plenty of women drivers that drive PHEVs like Volts. They aren’t all parked on the side of the road scratching their heads waiting for a big, smart, strong man to come help them. Give me a break.

            My wife is smarter than me in many areas. We both are equally capable with computers and technology.

            If they indeed made the decision to implement this setup without the ability to lock in EV mode because of some outdated notion that moms can’t push a button then that is just a reflection of how outdated the leadership is at Chrysler. Because it was a stupid one to not simply put an EV mode in as an option.

            1. philip d says:

              By the way I know it’s not what you meant but it comes across in your post that you are calling your wife an idiot.

            2. Tom says:

              Your statement about Volt women drivers is categorically false. First of all there are not plenty of Volt drivers…period. Chevy hasn’t sold as many all told as Chrysler sells by the end of April in any given year. Second, showing that there are exceptions does not disprove the rule. Nobody knows their key demographic soccer mom crowd like Chrysler….nobody. You are a fool to think otherwise. You cannot after 35 years in a market segment still hold nearly 50% market share (Dodge and Chrysler combined) without that fact.

        2. Jason says:

          By default my Leaf goes into D mode, nothing else to think about, pretty hard to make a mistake. Ok, so hit the shifter again and it goes into Effect mode. What exactly does that do? Bit sluggish feel to the accelerator and more regen.
          In this day and age, taking options away and not thinking about how best to implement them is really rather poor. Drop the Soccer Mums bit, anyone can figure out the best way to drive the car for them. Make the default the easy option, but give the options to those interested to work it out. I wish my Leaf could start in E mode everytime. How hard would that have really been to add to the system menu on the touch screen? I doubt very hard. But for the manufacturer, that just adds a bit more cost, regardless if they get a great reputation as a result. And now you get a glimpse why Tesla is so highly regarded, they put these little touches in because, really, it doesn’t take that much and has such a positive impact.
          FCA, just put the options there and let the customer figure out what works best for them.

  2. Dl says:

    Gas pacifica 28 mpg is a highway rating, not combined. You make sound the hybrid mode benefit closer than it really is. Also, hybrid mode should be more effective than other no plug hybrids such as Toyota highlanders since it is able to regenerate and store more.

    Loss of towing is a significant cons, perhaps more significant than stow and go.

    The second row seats are more convinient while still removable.

    1. Tom says:

      Most people never use the mid row stow and go anyway. Rarely is the towing used. For me personally in 15 years of owning 3 different Chrysler minivans, I used the tow hitch once. And of the dozens of people I know that have minivans, I only know one person who has ever used their tow hitch besides me.

      1. DL says:

        I agree. Just saying article has failed to highlight pluses of better chairs instead of Stow-n-go version. Which for me is a plus actually, if there were both options, i would still pick full size captain chair in the 2nd row.

        the claim of combined rating on the gas version is a factual error. Gas version is 22 combined (not 28) vs 32 combined of the PHEV.

        I am just surprised at the quality of the insideevs review, no only does this one not highlight all major cons and pro’s but also simply messes up the facts (like the mpg claim). It also seems a bit leaning on a negative side, which is a bit surprising, giving general positive bias of the site towards EVs.

        Honestly I have come to expect far better from the insideevs.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Yes should read 22 mpg combined, not 28 (which is highway). Fixed.

        2. Scramjett says:

          I wonder if this might be a cross post? I didn’t recognize the author and a quick look shows this is his third post with the first one only a couple weeks ago. Made me wonder if he cross-posted this on IEVs and other related publications.

        3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          It also seems a bit leaning on a negative side, which is a bit surprising, giving general positive bias of the site towards EVs.

          Indeed, it’s surprising and a bit troubling to see InsideEVs run such a tepid review of what appears to be a very strong new entry in the PEV (Plug-in EV) field. It may not sell that well, as PHEV versions of gasmobiles which are priced higher than the gasmobile version typically (almost never) sell all that well.

          But from the description, this looks to be one of the few compelling PEVs on the market today. I hope it sells sufficiently well to encourage other auto makers to put longer-ranged (>30 miles AER) PHEVs into production.

          1. pjwood1 says:

            +1 sort of bugs me, too

            You have InsideEVs tactful not to be too environmental. Then you have Motor1, with a ‘Green’ car section, putting out ham-fisted watch that “return on investment” commentary.

            Let’s.

            Maybe the author can do a follow up, providing thoughts on what that “return” should be, electric rate assumptions (why not, we talk about mpg -show him Cars review) and include benefits from quickly jamming miles in at a 6,600KW. After all, “Green” should be a higher bar than “If it doesnt have a plug”.

      2. Scramjett says:

        I tend to agree. I can’t really think of anything I’d be hauling that would require me to stow the second row. Even if I had to, it’d be such a rarity that I wouldn’t make a big stink about taking the seats out.

        Same with the towing hitch. I can’t see myself towing anything. I’d like to have the hitch for a bike rack though.

        1. Scramjett says:

          I just confirmed that this is a cross post from “Motor1.”

          https://www.motor1.com/reviews/142903/2017-chrysler-pacifica-hybrid-minivan/

          Given one of the comments from one of their “contributors” in the comments section, they don’t sound particularly friendly towards EVs. You can also pick up on it a bit in the subtext of this piece, though I think/hope that it is subconscious and not deliberate.

      3. Hemidakota says:

        I use it quite frequently. Type 3 hitch. I love the Town and Country for the stow-n-go feature when running over to Lowes or Home Deport for dry-wall and plywood sheets.

        1. Scramjett says:

          Then it sounds like the gas Pacifica is for you. Or, if you’re looking for something electrified, wait until something closer to what you’re looking for is available. The Outlander PHEV perhaps (if it ever shows up)? Or maybe the upcoming Chrysler PHEV SUV? Jay has dropped a hint here and there about it being Chrysler’s worst kept secret.

          I understand how you might feel: “FCA should have included stow & go, tow hitch, AWD (my pref), etc…” Whatever FCA’s reasoning for not including any of these (cost?) they’re trying to capture the vast majority of the buying public. And frankly, the vast majority of the buying public doesn’t tow heavy objects like boats and trailers, or make weekly trips to Home Depot, in their minivan. They usually do these things in trucks.

          Btw, I do not mean for what I stated above to seem like I’m being preachy or combative. I’m not. I would love to see some of the options from the gas version (such as the limited version) make it into the hybrid. But I suspect they want to be sure that it won’t be just a niche vehicle before they’re willing to risk adding more options to it.

      4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “Most people never use the mid row stow and go anyway.”

        I guess my family isn’t “most people”, then. We had the 2nd row Stow-n-Go seats in our Town & Country minivan deployed most of the time. In general, we only stowed them in the floor when we needed to carry something really large as cargo.

        We didn’t use the 3rd row seats much; those were generally stowed, to leave room for cargo in the rear. Reversing that arrangement would be problematic, because the cargo would then block access to the 3rd row seats, and entry from the rear would require climbing over the seats.

  3. Kevin Cowgill says:

    Take out the back seats and presto, a great delivery or cargo van.
    Since it’s just too much for chevy to make a Voltec van…

    1. Scramjett says:

      …or a Voltec SUV.

  4. GrokGrok says:

    I took this to mean mainly lack of a hold mode, i.e., ability to save the battery until you really need it, such as a steep uphill grade. The van will still get up the grade, but it will be more of a struggle and noisier than if you could draw on the electrical motors.

    1. GrokGrok says:

      Regarding “lack of EV mode.”

      1. If I remember right, Toyota PIP was first to have a selectable ‘Hold’ Mode, and the Volt added that in its second years product.

        So, maybe there is hope yet for FCA to tweak this, with simple EV/Gas Priority Modes by a year or 2 down the line. Probably depends on Buyer Feedback, more than comments we make here!

        1. Scramjett says:

          That sounds reasonable. We might see it in a 2018 or 2019 model.

        2. philip d says:

          I could be wrong but I think it was the opposite with the Volt. The first MY the Volt would simply run in EV mode whether you wanted it to or not until it depleted the pack then it would run as a hybrid. They added the hold button after feedback that people wanted to save their EV range in some circumstances to be used later.

          But to your point if they get enough feedback they could simply add a EV mode button.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            Hold mode came out when GM released Ampera for Europe as many people wanted that feature. Then Chevy introduced it to 2013 MY Volt.

            2011/2012 MY Volt only had Mountain mode.

    2. Tom says:

      You somehow think this van doesn’t have enough power to climb a grade using its gasoline engine? Ummmm….what? Then you’ve never driven a van with one of these 3.6L engines. Freakin thing has guts. Rock solid to the core. The transmission? Not so much.

      1. GrokGrok says:

        You’re right that the V6 is a more respectable engine than hybrids often come with, and that it’s probably more than enough for most situations. I’m thinking mainly of a hill in my area with 7 miles of 6%/7% grade. If the van is fully loaded, and considering that it’s lugging the extra battery weight, I’d bet it would be an easier journey up being able to also use the electric motor.

        1. Scramjett says:

          You should keep an eye out for Alex on Auto’s full detailed review of the Pacifica Hybrid. His test track is in the Santa Cruz mountains and includes a similar grade.

        2. Tom says:

          I’m just pointing out that engine is a beast. They use it in much more severe applications such as their trucks,Jeeps, Dodge Charger, etc. Do not underestimate it.

  5. Rob Stark says:

    The second row seats are more comfortable in the Hybrid than the collapsable second row seats in the standard model.

    The vehicle chooses the most efficient means possible without regard to ideological preference for “EV” mode. If connecting the ICE to the drive shaft is more efficient than using the ICE as a generator then that is what the vehicle computer does. That is fantastic. The heated debates of EREV vs PHEV are retarded.

    1. Tom says:

      Careful. This forum is all about ignorant purist stances on engineering subjects they barely grasp. Next you’ll be telling me the engine will choose to run during extremely cold weather so that it can utilize the hot water generated to heat the cabin (which is a huge cabin).

    2. unlucky says:

      r-word.org

      And EREV versus PHEV matters a lot to those who want to drive without using gas. I do agree that there are good reasons to make vehicles which choose their operating mode for maximum efficiency. But not offering the choice of smoother, cleaner electric to those who want it just because you don’t share an ideology seems dumb.

      In short, I didn’t put solar panels on my roof so that I could drive to work in a “mixed mode”. I want to use electricity.

      1. Scramjett says:

        Keep it under 75 and you should be fine! 🙂

        In all seriousness, considering that FCA is looking to make this a mainstream vehicle, I can see how they would want to take the “thinking” out of it since most people just want the car to “just work” after they start it.

        Having said that, I do think that they should have included a mode selector that could be ignored by most people who don’t know/care about it while giving the option to those that do. They can also take a page out of GM’s book where it defaults to “standard” mode after every start.

      2. Tom says:

        You do not own a minivan. And I bet you never will.

    3. philip d says:

      “The vehicle chooses the most efficient means possible without regard to ideological preference for “EV” mode”

      I don’t think it’s ideological if I know I’m only going to work every day which is well within the capable EV range. If I know that I won’t need the gas engine for that day then having the vehicle choose the gas engine for me would in fact not be the most efficient. In other words the vehicle can’t read your mind and see the future.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “The vehicle chooses the most efficient means possible without regard to ideological preference for “EV” mode. If connecting the ICE to the drive shaft is more efficient than using the ICE as a generator then that is what the vehicle computer does. That is fantastic.”

      I certainly agree there is a case to be made for the vehicle being able to use whichever mode, EV or gasmobile, which will work best under the conditions it’s called on to perform. And I’m not really convinced that it’s so terrible that the Volt will kick on the gas motor to warm up the battery pack on cold days. If the car only runs for perhaps 3 miles before shutting down the gas motor, is that really using that much gasoline? The car is going to kick in the gas motor anyway if you never use it, to prevent the gas in the tank from going bad do to being over a year old. Wouldn’t it be better to use it a bit at a time to start the drive on those cold days, instead of burning the gas in the tank for no purpose other than keeping it from getting too old?

      However, Rob, your “retarded” comment was uncalled for. People have the right to demand, if it’s really important to them, a PHEV that actually performs as a BEV within its range; one which never, ever engages the gasmobile until the battery is too depleted to power the car properly.

      Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. Just because we have a different opinion doesn’t make them “retarded”, and they have just as much right to get the car they want as we do.

  6. Jake Brake says:

    Given the amount of bitching here about not having max power in EV mode, its no wonder chrysler went with calling it a hybrid instead of plugin hybrid. The reason it was designed like that was to go with a more energy dense battery chemistry thats cheaper/lighter and also to downsize electric motors. In the grand scheme of things the car uses very little fuel for soccer moms and only the purists will complain.

    1. bro1999 says:

      It’s intentional. FCA wants Soccermom Jane to think that PHEV Pacifica is just like a big Prius instead.

      During the initial unveil, there was barely a mention of the fact the Pacifica “Hybrid” could actually be plugged in. I think out of all the photos released initially, there was only one shot of the charge port….closed.
      FCA does not want people thinking the Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in.

  7. Scott says:

    Would love to see this tech make it over to the Promaster and Ram line. FCA uses the Pentastar engine in pretty much everything.

  8. Otto Sayas says:

    “return on investment math”. Changing the paradigm requires much more creative thinking and other inputs than the bottom line.

    1. Scramjett says:

      +1

  9. Another nice vehicle candidate for Wireless Charging in the Soccer Moms Garage! No Plugging in required at home, just follow the parking guides!

    Since it is ‘Pitched’ as a ‘Hybrid’, having wireless charging at home would give you that ‘Prius’ feel, while getting a boost in Fuel Economy! Then, if you go to the game, AND can Plug In while there, you still have that option, if the buyer ‘Gets It’.

  10. James says:

    These guys that continually speak “return on investment” are not the people who will buy the Pacifica Hybrid, Chevy Volt or a Tesla.

    There is more return in human terms, than a financial one in the minds of customers who go electric.

    We want clean air. We believe we can help slow the process of climate change. Some of us even swoon at polar bear commercials.

    When these guys whip out their calculators, they still can’t find the right savings plan to justify an EV or PHEV purchase, which, let’s fact it – is still an expensive proposition. Maybe not solar panel or wind turbine expensive – but still, expensive nonetheless.

    The solar panel people – who will live in their present home for 25 more years, and who feel strongly enough about sustainable energy to pay up front for a future of savings – Those are not the majority of folks BY FAR. It’s a credit card, big sale world out there.

    There will be a time when mass production of lithium batteries means compatible financials with ICEs. This is why the Model 3 is so crucial. We aren’t there yet folks, so if your whole buying decision falls on your balance sheet – forget it. We’re not there yet.

  11. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Kudos to Chrysler!

    33 miles (well, “up to” 33 miles) of electric range makes this one of the longest-range PHEVs in production. In fact, that’s nearly as good as the Volt 1.0!

    Yes, okay, there are some caveats there; I see Kdawg is asking some very pertinent questions about when the gas motor kicks in even within that ~33 mile range. But then, you can say the same about most PHEVs; aside from the Volt, I think they all kick in the gas motor to help with acceleration, hill climbing, etc.

    Yes, it’s true that the Volt has been engineered to be a true switch-hitter, able to perform (more or less) equally well using only the EV powertrain or with the gas-powered range extender. This Chrysler minivan isn’t up to that high standard.

    But then, the Volt is a much smaller car, and has been frequently criticized for not having sufficient room in the rear seat. That certainly won’t be a problem with the Pacifica!

    It’s too bad this minivan had to lose the 2nd row Stow-n-Go seats. My family had a Chrysler Town & Country minivan with those, and they make the car much more versatile and usable than 2nd row seats that you have to remove from the vehicle to create cargo space, as is the case here. But with a sizable battery pack under the floor, those 2nd row Stow-n-Go seats become physically impossible. So I don’t “ding” Chrysler for that drawback. You want 2nd row Stow-n-Go seats, then buy a Chrysler gasmobile minivan. If you want a PHEV, then give up the convenience of Stow-n-Go. It’s a choice.

    Good to see that FINALLY, for the first time since December 2010 and the Volt, there is a new and compelling PHEV in the sub-luxury price range on the market here in the USA!

    Go Chrysler!

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