Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid – In-Depth Evaluation Of Ward’s 10 Best Engines Winner
JUN 29 2017 BY MARK KANE
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (which is plug-in…despite no evidence of that in its name) was earlier this year announced a winner on Wards 10 Best Engines list.
Following up on the win, WardsAuto recently released a story behind Pacifica Hybrid, also called a smooth operator.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is equipped with
- 220-hp, higher-compression, Atkinson-cycle version of FCA’s Pentastar V-6
- two electric motors (main 85 kW / 114 hp and smaller (starter/generator) – 63 kW / 84 hp)
- eFlite electrically variable transmission with one-way clutch
- 260 hp of peak system output
- 16 kWh battery
The front-wheel drive powertrain enables both motors to contribute torque if needed.
All-electric range of the car is 33 miles, while all-electric top speed stands at reasonable 75 mph (121 km/h). Fuel economy stand at up to 84 mpg-e (2.8 L/100 km).
One of the toughest challenges in advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain is enabling smooth operation, so the driver can’t tell when the engine starts and when it stops, while at the same time looking to achieve the highest efficiency from the combined powertrain.
““We set some very stringent efficiency targets, including 80 mpg-e (2.9 L/100 km) EPA city, and we’re very proud of the team’s hard work that enabled us to exceed that target,” FCA high-voltage electrification chief engineer John Gibson says. “In making it seamless and quiet, sometimes you have to weigh the impact on efficiency. I think we achieved a very good balance of drivability and seamless operation with very good efficiency.”
Gibson adds that segment-leading fuel economy even after the battery is depleted proved to be as much of a challenge to achieve as the system’s all-electric efficiency.
“We’re really happy with our 32 mpg (7.4 L/100 km) EPA combined charge-sustaining fuel economy,” Gibson says. “We use the electric drive even during charge sustaining, so our eFlite transmission with the one-way clutch is a key enabler not only in all-electric but also in charge-sustaining mode.” It helps the ’17 Pacifica’s drag coefficient is a surprisingly slick 0.30.
“Our judges awarded the Pacifica Hybrid high marks for the vehicle’s seamless drive quality as well as its technological advancement as the first mass-market electrified minivan in North America,” writes WardsAuto editor Bob Gritzinger.
“And when the 3.6L Atkinson-cycle V-6 did kick in, fuel economy still ran above 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km) in our judges’ real-world, around-town driving, and topped 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km) in one instance.”
By comparison, the conventional Pacifica is rated at 18/28 mpg (13-8.4 L/100 km) city/highway and 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km) combined.”
Chrysler touts its modified and optimized V-6 engine for the plug-in hybrid edition, and its internally designed and developed eFlite transmission, as well as a cooperation with LG Chem on the battery pack (which is pretty much the standard ‘goto’ supplier for OEMs these days).
““We sized our electric drive system to be perfectly in tune with how much power we have out of the Pentastar engine,” Gibson says. “Our Atkinson-cycle version does not deliver as much power as the standard Pentastar, but the combined system output is 260 hp, which is plenty for our customers, and the immediacy of the electric drive torque makes the vehicle very responsive in acceleration. The Atkinson cycle is a great trade-off with electrified vehicles in terms of using the electric drive to supplement the engine.””
Perhaps the most important part of the proposition is that the entire propulsion system was designed to be scaled down or up for other vehicles. Well, now there will be no excuse for FCA right? C’mon fells, bring out that extended range, plug-in hybrid we know you guys are sitting on!