The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Is The Ideal Efficient Family Hauler

Since the day that Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich rolled out the first Dodge Caravan more than three decades ago, the minivan form factor has remained the ultimate family hauler. With sliding doors, folding/removable seats and an ever-increasing number of cup-holders, minivans are supremely flexible, utilitarian and garageable. While Chrysler has formidable competitors today from Honda, Toyota and to a lesser degree Kia, it has just launched what may be the ultimate expression of the type in the form of the Pacifica Hybrid which I just spent a week with.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler has taken a very interesting approach to promoting the Pacifica Hybrid. They seem to have recognized that the potential market for an electrified minivan is not the same as the market for something like a Toyota Prius Prime or Chevrolet Volt. Despite what the branding implies, this Pacifica is actually a plug-in hybrid like those well known green cars.

However, while most plug-in hybrids offer drivers ability to select different drive modes like the ability to go EV only or save the battery charge until later, Chrysler does none of this. Climb behind the wheel of this minivan and you’ll be hard-pressed to distinguish it from the conventional drive version. Their is some additional information available about energy flow in one of infotainment screens and the fuel efficiency displays in the cluster provide indications of battery state of charge and whether the engine is running.

The only direct functional control the driver has is the ability to switch the rotary shifter from Drive to Low to get extra regenerative braking, but this really isn’t much different from doing the same in the non-hybrid to get a lower gear in the transmission.

The core idea here is that busy parents that are hauling multiple kids around don’t have time for this nonsense. They just want to get in and drive and not worry about getting all the settings right for maximum efficiency. Thus, the only thing the Pacifica hybrid driver needs to do is plug the van in when they come home at night and unplug it in the morning. No muss, no fuss.

Aside from the powertrain all of the other features of this van are the same as you’ll find on any other Pacifica such as the double sunroof and the available Uconnect theater that includes the ability for second-row occupants to play games against each other or watch separate movies.

If you have people hauling needs that exceed the capabilities of a Prius or a Chevy Bolt EV but you’d also like to avoid spending time at the gas pump, you can’t do better than the Pacifica Hybrid. Until the new Honda Odyssey hits the streets in the coming weeks, the Pacifica is the best

minivan out there and the Honda doesn’t have an electrified powertrain option for now. While it’s not cheap, given its capabilities, the Pacifica is surprisingly reasonably priced with the Premium going for $42,000 and the Platinum an extra $3,000. Both are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and more from some states including California. If you don’t have a boat, ditch SUV and get the ultimate expression of the minivan form, the Pacifica hybrid.

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