Given America's obsession with vehicles that can carry the whole kit and caboodle, it's been shocking how slow automakers have been to offer electrified transportation with more than five seats. The market has acquiesced a bit recently and we've finally got some decent offerings now–like the Rivian R1S, Kia EV9 or Mazda CX-90 PHEV. However, for a long time, if a buyer wanted an EV or PHEV that could carry the whole family, they'd have to spend nearly six figures on a Tesla Model X. That might work for Jojo Siwa and her ill-fated bad-girl rebrand, but I'd bet her fans’ parents probably don't have the coin for a Model X. Certainly not if they're shelling out oodles of cash for her hairbows.

But they could buy the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Introduced in 2017, this electrified, plug-in hybrid van has soldiered on mostly (mechanically) unchanged since its introduction. One of the last vestiges of the Fiat-Chrysler era, the Pacifica's interior and exterior design reek of forgotten cars like the final-generation Chrysler 200. Heck, since the death of the 300, the Pacifica and Pacifica PHEV are the only two models in Chrysler showrooms. In the age of nearly logarithmic improvement in electrified vehicles, is the elderly Pacifica still relevant?

After a week with the semi-ubiquitous PHEV minivan, I learned that the answer is, surprisingly, yes. Technically the unit Chrysler loaned me was a 2023 model, but only minor updates to things like color choices and a mild reconfiguration of trim levels have changed for 2024.

2023 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Base Price $50,960
Battery 12.3 kWh (usable)
Charge Time ~ 2 hours (Level 2 charger)
EV Range 32 miles
Seating Capacity 7
As-Tested Price $61,785
Efficiency 82 MPGe
Output 260 hp

Driving The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Don't let that generic, overly simplistic “hybrid” moniker fool you–The Pacifica Hybrid is more sophisticated than a mild hybrid, where what is essentially a big alternator can spin the gas engine a little quicker, thus saving a bit of gas. No, the Pacifica Hybrid is an honest-to-goodness power-split-style, parallel hybrid, not dissimilar to what you'd find in a Toyota Prius or Sienna hybrid, but with a bigger battery. It has a relatively large electric motor and a big battery that allows it to drive up to 32 miles on the EPA cycle without ever turning the engine on, something the Sienna can’t do. While companies like GM and Ford waffle on whether or not they’ll introduce a PHEV family hauler, Chrysler’s quietly had one sale for the better part of a decade now.

That means the Pacifica Hybrid's motivation comes from the now-familiar corporate 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, retuned to work on the more efficient Atkinson cycle and paired to an e-CVT transmission that encompasses two electric motors. The vehicle produces a peak combined output of 260 horsepower. The larger electric motor—which produces a maximum of 112 hp—is responsible for the Pacifica's fully electric motivation. The smaller electric motor is used for recharging the battery, but it has a one-way clutch allowing it to assist with power delivery if needed. When the gas engine is not running, the large electric motor is fed by a 12.2-kWh (usable) battery, good for 32 miles of range. When the full electric range is depleted, the Pacifica PHEV will function like a normal hybrid vehicle, recuperating energy when it brakes or coasts.

The Pacifica is such an odd duck in the Chrysler stable at this time. It may share an engine with other Stellantis vehicles, but its platform and complicated hybrid system were only used on this vehicle. With the transition to a PHEV model, Stellantis (or more accurately, FCA) had to make some engineering concessions to make the thing work. The second-row Stow-n-Go fold-flat seats are gone. The storage bin where the seats would fold now holds the van's traction battery. Unlike the gas-powered Pacifica, the Pacifica Hybrid is front-wheel-drive only, too. It also has a lower tow rating than the standard van.

Who cares? I could count on one hand the number of times I've seen a Minivan towing serious weight. I'm sure the Pacifica Hybrid buyers don't mind the relatively minor tradeoffs, especially because the Pacifica Hybrid might be the best iteration of the Pacifica.

See, these power-split, eCVT hybrids tend to feel a bit syrupy while driving; press the pedal to the floor on an older Prius, and the car surges while the gas engine and electric motor try and fill in the gaps where each leaves off. The experience can be unnerving, especially when one of the power sources has to work hard to match the requested demand from the driver. They often feel like a blender struggling to mix a banana into a smoothie that doesn’t have enough liquid. The Pacifica Hybrid doesn’t have this problem.

Like most power-split parallel hybrids, the Pacifica will start from a stop with its electric motor doing most of the work. When the electric motor runs out of oomph, the V-6 seamlessly blends in, filling in torque where the electric motor can't, and vice versa. It's a quiet, smooth process; high torque from the large V-6 helps the Pacifica completely avoid the banana-in-a-blender feeling. This powertrain is superior to the base 3.6-liter, which comes paired to a nine-speed transmission that somehow does too much and too little at the same time.

The Hybrid even has a proto-one-pedal mode. Put the Pacifica in “L,” and it places the electric motor in max regeneration mode. In this mode, the car feels remarkably electrified for what it is. If I didn’t know better I’d think I was driving a full EV. 

Still, that doesn't mean the Pacifica Hybrid's powertrain is without fault.

There are only two modes—electric mode or hybrid mode—and they’re not configurable for the driver. In electric mode, the van will drive on electric power until it’s out of range or needs more power than the electric motor can provide, and then it’ll switch to hybrid mode. It’s smooth, but it can be frustrating for the driver who wants more granular control of the vehicle's powertrain. Unlike other PHEV models, even others in Stellantis’s lineup, there's no way to lock the vehicle in EV-only mode. To use full EV driving requires a mild foot and never surpassing 50% on the van's power gauge. That can be a problem because the van's electric motor is only rated for 112 hp, not a lot for a roughly 5,000-pound vehicle. The electric motor’s high torque is enough for decent acceleration around town, or even to maintain freeway speeds, but anything over moderate acceleration and the Pacifica will call for assistance from the gas engine. My time with the Pacifica was generally spent doing engine-off driving, but I was a lone driver. The average Pacifica buyer will probably haul their family around family. That extra weight would make staying in EV mode much trickier.

Despite the powertrain flaws, the Pacifica’s ride and handling are surprisingly competent. No, the Pacifica isn’t meant to be a track day attack vehicle, but the steering is accurate and comfortable, and the ride is smooth and refined without being floaty or bouncy. It’s clearly meant to be a long-haul driver designed for comfort, and it’s dang good at that. 

Range, Battery Size, Observed Efficiency

The Pacifica has a 12.3-kWh (usable) battery, good for 33 miles of all-electric range. That may not sound like very much, but it should cover most of the miles an average American drives in a day. When out of battery, the Pacifica Hybrid is rated for 30 MPG combined. These are respectable numbers for a big, older car. More impressively, I beat them. Consistently.

Despite this test taking place in the Second Winter season of Ohio, where a warm break in the weather quickly turned to chilly 35-to-40-degree days, the Pacifica beat its rated range by quite a bit. On a test loop starting in Downtown Columbus, to just north of Deleware, Ohio, and back, the Pacifica did a full 39.8 miles over a mix of city driving, 65 mph freeway miles and country roads before the van defaulted into hybrid mode. That’s 3.26 kWh per mile, not too shabby for a big van that doesn’t have many of the fancy tricks found in many modern EVs.

When out of battery, the Pacifica could slightly beat its 30 MPG rating. I got anywhere from 29-32 MPG, depending on my driving style. 

Charging Experience

Some would say that this section is irrelevant for a PHEV since the batteries aren’t very big and they can’t DC fast charge. That’s not fair—charging is kind of the Pacifica’s killer app.

See, unlike the Prius Prime or lower-trimmed versions of the pre-2024 Toyota RAV4 Prime, the Pacifica Hybrid’s onboard charger is rated at a fairly strong 6.6 kW. This means that the Pacifica can go from flat to full on a public charging station in as little as two hours. Because the Pacifica’s battery isn’t huge, it also means that the van can go from flat to full in about 9 and a half hours, or overnight, on a standard 110-volt, 12-amp household outlet using a cable included with the car.

For most DC fast charge-obsessed EV drivers, these numbers don’t sound like the lightning-fast 10-80% that are bragged about for fully electric cars. That doesn’t matter here. Because of the Pacifica’s right-sized battery and competitive on-board charging equipment, Chrysler has made charging approachable for the owners. A Pacifica owner won’t need to buy and pay for an electrician to install a level 2 charging station, they’d just need access to a standard wall plug that they’d use for a toaster. If they choose to charge in public, the Pacifica Hybrid will get plenty of power in a short time. Most EV and PHEV drivers call this drip-feeding strategy the ABC method, or “Always be Charging.”


Because the Pacifica was so good at charging, I constantly found myself plugging it in. Not counting the long trips to get and return the van to Chrysler, I averaged a staggering 96.8 MPG over the week the vehicle was in my possession. 


Although the Pacifica was updated in 2020, the interior is mostly the same as has been since its introduction in 2017. This means this is mostly a pre-Stellantis car, developed shortly after Chrysler entered its tie-up with Fiat. If you’ve been in a Chrysler 200 or 300 sedan, then this will all look familiar to you. 

The interior of a Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid

I don’t think it’s bad, per se, just very much an older car. Some drivers will love the buttons, knobs and switches, but they aren’t as nice as the stuff you’ll get in newer Jeep or Dodge products. Same with the interior plastics. They’re all squishy and fit generally well, but the market has moved forward. I liked this van in 2016, but in 2024 it feels a bit behind the pack. Still, the Pinnacle’s Nappa leather seats, suede headliner and leather lumbar pillows do make an older interior look pretty swanky for what it is.


Notably, the Pacifica’s packaging reigns supreme. Unlike most mid-to-large crossovers, there’s ample room for all passengers in every seat, including the third row. If you’re regularly doing family duty, there’s not much else that can come close to touching Pacifica in this regard. Interestingly, the Pacifica Hybrid is only available in a seven-seat configuration. The eight-seat arrangement is only available on lower trims of the gas van.

Tech Features

The Pacifica’s PHEV-related tech features were few, mostly revolving around the built-in charging schedule and timer for drivers. But, its passenger-oriented tech feature list is fairly novel. The van has built-in 4G LTE, allowing it to function as a mobile hotspot for passengers. It also has an interior “FamCAM” that allows the driver to view the rear passengers through a camera reflected in the van’s infotainment–a great feature for families looking to check on children without doing the old-school head turn to the back seat.

Infotainment & UX

The Pacifica uses a 10.1-inch screen, running the same UConnect 5 system that’s making its way into the entire Stellantis range. It’s generally snappy and well-organized, although compared to other implementations on Stellantis’s newer models, its not as quick as it could be. The head unit does support wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, and Amazon’s Alexa assistant. CarPlay was generally flawless, with only one or two small connection-related glitches during the entire week with the van. 


Since this was a Pinnacle version, this model had Chrysler’s rear seat entertainment screens running Amazon Fire TV. 

Safety and ADAS

The Pacifica Hybrid has a full suite of safety features. There’s rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring system and lane keep assist, but it has pedestrian and traffic avoidance systems that will apply the brakes if needed. There’s lane-keep assist, too.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t rated the hybrid-powered Pacifica, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it an overall rating of four stars. 

Pricing and Trims

The Pacifica Hybrid comes in five trims: Select ($50,960), S Appearance ($53,260), Premium S Appearance ($56,760) and Pinnacle ($59,960)—all slightly down from 2023’s pricing. The Pacifica Pinnacle is not a cheap van; with every box checked, the 2023 unit I drove stickered at $61,785, including destination fees and the $195 Granite Crystal Metallic paint color. Even as a base trim, the Pacifica PHEV is quite a bit pricier than the ~$40,000 standard gas model.


There’s a caveat there. Because the Pacifica PHEV is a North American-made plug-in vehicle, the van qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit, effectively lowering the Van’s price within a fairly short stone’s throw from the gas model. You get a better van for not much more money, especially if you want the same equipment. There’s a reason why nearly a quarter of all Pacificas sold in early 2024 were PHEV models.

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Like the Nissan Leaf, the Chrysler Pacifica is an old vehicle in need of an update. Also like the Nissan Leaf, it’s still a pleasant car to drive, despite its age. But while the Leaf is outmoded and unable to use most public charging infrastructure, the Pacifica PHEV is still relevant.

It’s a great van for meeting aspirational EV drivers where they’re at. The Pacifica PHEV can give tangibly good range without the need for its owner to alter their driving habits, or pay a lot of money to install a home charging units.

Gallery: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Review

Hopefully, Stellantis can make the Pacifica PHEV even better for its next act. A new model with more range, more power or even a full EV option would turn a good van into a perfect one.

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