2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: Space, Comfort and Best-in-Class Fuel Economy [Review]

It's not the minivan you knew growing up.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
[Photo: Chrysler]

OVERVIEW

Chrysler introduced the first modern minivan to the U.S. for the 1984 model year, creating a brand new automotive segment. Fast forward three decades, and we have FCA’s (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) latest take on the minivan with the Chrysler Pacifica. The Pacifica emerged for the 2017 model year on an all-new platform, replacing the outgoing Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Following that, FCA brought out the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid version, available in three levels of trim: Touring Plus, Touring L and Limited.

STYLISH PRESENCE

Visually, the Pacifica Hybrid delivers a sophisticated, sculptural exterior, with a bold athletic stance and aerodynamic profile that emphasizes an aggressive wheel to body proportion. Its long wheelbase, widened track and low ground clearance contribute to its sleek and futuristic image.

The Pacifica’s frontal view features the Chrysler brand’s contemporary face, with a graceful, flowing upper and lower grille. The slim upper grille flows smoothly into the headlamps, while the Chrysler wing logo floats within the mesh grille texture. The upper and lower grilles both have ribbon-like chrome accents that flow in tandem displaying a geometric balance and a premium appearance.

The sculpted hood is robust with distinctive character lines leading the eye to the upper grille, and it shingles over for a clean, seamless appearance. The body-side sections are highlighted by an A-line that arcs gracefully from front to rear, tracing downward into the rear fascia and defining the rear quarter section.

The sculptural nature of the Pacifica’s body section with its lower surface character line, combined with the A-line and rear fascia surfacing, add to the Pacifica’s overall fluid-like surface that dances with layers of light from virtually every angle. A visually stretched daylight opening defines the upper canopy that is accented by a chrome surround, which, as it travels aft, thins and thickens as if drawn with a brush. The sliding door track lines are cleverly hidden beneath the rear-quarter side glass, resulting in virtually invisible tracks.

From the rear, the Pacifica’s fluid appearance becomes increasingly evident, with a roof that blends into a sculpted, integrated rear spoiler at the rear-most trailing edge. The rear-swept D-pillars accentuate the faster side and roof profile.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
[Photo: Chrysler]

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

The inside of the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid emphasizes the spaciousness of the vehicle. It emphasizes high-tech elements with a sculpted flair. Modern color and material trim combinations are highlighted by unique interior accents in the doors and instrument panel. The tone-on-tone control knobs in the center stack feature a spun finish, reminiscent of high-end audio equipment.

FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system – available as either a 5-inch or 8.4-inch – is set flush with the instrument panel for a clean, technical look. With a glossy screen surface that allows for higher contrast, the touchscreen feels futuristic and in line with other modern devices, like a tablet.

On upper trim levels, a stitched instrument panel adds a premium touch. At night, the interior evokes a more high-tech look, with white lighting on buttons and the cluster display glowing with “Chrysler blue.” Other control elements also use blue lighting, versus the traditionally used amber, for a more cohesive and technical look.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
[Photo: Chrysler]
The interior delivers best-in-class front-row and third-row legroom. It also features an available tri-pane panoramic sunroof that adds to the feeling of openness. There’s a dual-pane panoramic sunroof over the front- and second-row seats, and a fixed glass pane over the third row. The HVAC controls are consolidated in the headliner, running cleanly along the rails. In the rear, the HVAC controls are on the passenger side headliner – a thoughtful consideration.

The Hands-free liftgate and side doors open and close by passing a foot beneath for added convenience.

The Uconnect Theater option includes a 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, Active Noise Control System, 13 speakers with a 506-watt amplifier, three-channel wireless headphones and 10-inch seatback video screens.

SAFETY AIDS

Safety and security abound in the new Pacifica Hybrid. There are available helpful features such as a 360-degree camera and ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist. There’s also Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning Plus, LaneSense Departure Warning and an all-new KeySense programmable key fob.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
[Photo: Chrysler]

PERFORMANCE

Packing a 3.6-liter Atkinson cycle Pentastar V-6 and two electric motors, the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid make for a total system output of 260 horsepower.

The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid delivers a luxury sedan-like ride, with comfortable and supportive seating, along with responsive damping. Acceleration is more than adequate with a broad torque range. This van delivers twice the torsional rigidity of the outgoing Town & Country for heightened stability. The transmission shifted smoothly and the handling characteristics bordered on sporty.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
[Photo: Chrysler]

TFLCAR’S TAKE

With so many creature comfort features included as standard fare in the new Pacifica Hybrid, Chrysler delivers what may well be the ultimate in functionality and versatility. The van is pricey, but it’s also eligible for tax credits that bring its price in line with its rivals. It’s certainly competitive against the likes of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

The Pacifica Hybrid is definitely not your “soccer mom” minivan of old. Rather, this one carried all the modern essential for the entire family and all their gear. The Pacifica Hybrid features a host of content and features to offer at affordable prices.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $44,995
Price as Tested:
$49,575
Engine: 3.6-liter eHybrid V-6
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive w/ electric motor
Horsepower: Combined system output: 260 horsepower
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson strut, coil over gas-   charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bar with hydroformed steel perimeter cradle

Rear:  Independent twist-blade with coil springs, twin-tube shock absorbers with integrated rebound springs

Brakes: Power assisted four-wheel discs (vented front)
Tires: Nexen N Priz RH78 P235/60 R18
Fuel capacity: 16.5 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 84 MPGe combined gas and electric / 32 MPG gas only – Electric only range – 33 miles / total range

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 121.6 inches
Length: 203.8 inches
Width: 79.6 inches
Height: 69.9 inches
Turning Circle: 39.7 feet
Curb Weight: 4,330 pounds
Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.