2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan Is the Perfect Family Vehicle

Sorry, but I make no apologies for liking minivans. I find them the absolute best overall vehicle for hauling every member of the family including (grandma and Fido) as well as everything you can fit in a few baskets at the big box stores. Combine that with awesome fuel economy and comfort and you have the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid/Images courtesy Chrysler

My week behind the wheel of the 2018 model ends with the Memorial Day holiday, a time that finds many on the road including yours truly. Truth be told, we only got as far as the airport parking garage for the Pacifica, but our week proved my initial impressions of this new model last year were spot on. I guess it is not difficult to make truly excellent products when you only have two in your portfolio as that is how many you will find on a Chrysler showroom these days – one sedan and one minivan.

While I have yet to find anything I absolutely don’t like in the new Pacifica (OK, maybe the metal trim ring on the steering wheel is a bad idea for sunny states), I love the memories the name itself evokes as I recall a wonderful road trip that began in the cool little village of Pacifica outside San Francisco. The absolute best Taco Bell location I have ever seen…right on the dang beach. And this Hybrid variant of the new Chrysler Pacifica is best dang minivan hands down. I am seeing gasoline prices edging up as the holiday weekend rolls on, but with the fuel economy figures this baby achieves I just laugh those higher figures off.

This is the first time any manufacturer has delivered a hybrid gasoline/electric powertrain in a minivan, and the results are very impressive. This was the best representation of hybrid technology yet in any vehicle we have tested given the utility afforded by the minivan itself and the inclusion of a plug-in hybrid system that allows total EV operation. The Pacifica Hybrid was the smoothest hybrid powertrain we have driven, and the minivan itself features excellent handling along with some of the lowest noise, vibration, and harshness in any vehicle on the road.

At the heart of the PHEV system is a modified Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engine mated to a unique eFlite electrically variable transmission. The EVT contains two electric motors that are both capable of driving the vehicle’s front wheels while also working as a power generator to recharge the battery pack while driving. The hybrid system battery pack is a 16-kWh lithium-ion unit that is mounted beneath the second-row cargo floor (thus losing the stow and go capability of the middle seats). The placement of this pack also aids in giving the minivan a low center of gravity that in turn improves handling and balance.

The new Pacifica Hybrid features a 16.5-gallon fuel tank. Once the 33 miles of electric range are depleted drivers can then go some 500 more miles on gas/hybrid operation. Gas engine output is rated at 260hp alone with motor A rated at 84hp (63 kW) and motor B generating 114hp (85 kW). Together this minivan can move, with so much torque on demand at the press of the accelerator and all through the powerband. It feels like this next-generation soccer mom mobile has a V-8 installed under the hood, and it operates so effortlessly and seamlessly.

Styling is all-new inside and out and the new Pacifica features a fast silhouette with a sculpted exterior featuring athletic proportions. This is nothing like the first-generation boxes that filled driveways back in the 80s. Even the sliding side doors have been designed to hide the tracks to give this model less of a “minivan look.” Every amenity is fit into the new Pacifica as our Limited tester demonstrated including a tri-pane panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, leather surfaces everywhere, hands-free power liftgate and sliding side doors, remote start, keyless entry and start, 8.4-inch color touchscreen infotainment display with Uconnect 8.4 Nav, 7-inch color TFT driver information display, active noise control system, seatback video screens with dual HDMI inputs and 3-channel control, and a rocking 760-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system with 20 speakers. I, of course, loved this latter feature while the grandboys quickly became fond of the rear seat entertainment system especially when they found they could play included games against each other.

Safety has never taken a back seat in the Chrysler minivans, and it is that same way with the new Pacifica. Over and above all the latest technologies is ParkSense front and rear park assist with stop, blind spot and cross path detection, 360-degree surround view camera system, parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, full speed forward collision warning plus, lane departure warning plus, and ready alert and rainy day braking.

Pricing for the new minivan from Chrysler begins in the mid-20s for a base L gasoline-only model. This is within most families’ budgets, and there are a decent amount of amenities included. The Hybrid models start in the 40s, with this loaded Limited tester arriving with a final window sticker of $48,580 – not within the budget of most families. Many hybrid models these days arrive only on the higher trim levels, and this Chrysler is one of those. There is still a bit of a premium for the added technology.

Fuel economy for the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is rated two-fold given the plug-in hybrid nature of the powertrain: EPA gives it 84 MPGe for average combined electricity and gasoline usage and 32 mpg for gas-only operation. These are righteous numbers considering there is a V-6 sitting under the hood, and the fact the vehicle can carry up to seven passengers and a lot of cargo.

So forgive me for liking a minivan so much, but this is one of the best vehicles I have tested in recent years and it offers so much convenience, comfort, killer fuel economy, and utility. This is the perfect road trip vehicle for any holiday or vacation travel even if those plans – like ours – only include parking it at the airport.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.