Since it was introduced last year, the plug-in Chrysler Pacific Hybrid has won numerous green vehicle awards because it can travel up to 33 miles on a full charge of electricity before switching over to a traditional fuel saving hybrid mode.
Two awards were presented earlier this years by the Northwest Automotive Press Association at Drive Revolution 2018, an annual comparision of alternative-fuel vehicles. As a NWAPA, I took part in the tests, which consisted of relatively short drives on city streets and freeways near the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington. I cast my voters for the Pacific Hybrid in the both categories, which included Best Family-Sized Plug-In Hybrid and the Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year, which is the nest of all vehicles tested.
But it didn't fully realize how justified the awards were until early Septmeber when I had the opportunity to test drive a 2018 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid for a full week. Put simply, it is the most well balanced green family vehicle for on the market. For starters, it actually goes over 30 miles on a full charge of electricity, which can be reached overnight with just a regular wall socket. And it is EPA rated at 32 miles per gallon after switching over to hybrid mode. I can't personally verfiy that because I was able to do almost all my daily driving on electricity alone, meaning I justified used a few dollars worth of gas in a week of driving.
But just as important, the Pacific Hybrid is a large vehicle that be configured to carry up to seven people. Although officially a minivan, there is nothing mini about its interior space. The front cabin is spacious, the second row of Captain's Chairs side back and forth for comfort, and the third row is adequate for three children. It also folds flat into the floor, opening up enough space for a sheet of plywood. And the large side sliding doors made getting in and out of the back rows easy.
The size mean the Pacific Hybrid is a fairly heavy vehicle, which makes it feel more safe and stable on the road that, say, a compact plug-in hybrid. And that's another reason why the 30 miles of electric range is so impressive — it's more than twice what some plug-in cars get. But the electric motor is powerful enough to provide good acceleration, even without the 3.6-liter V6 kicking in when needed.
The interior is also well-designed, with all controls easy for the driver to reach and operate. The 8.4-inch display screen in our vehicle could be read at a glance and quickly operated to change settings, allowing us to keep our eyes on the road. And, because the Pacifica Hybrid is a minivan, the seating was about as high as many SUVs, meaning visibility was great.
The exterior styling is also striking. The sloping nose and swoopy lines are a long way from the boxy design of the original minivans that Chysler pioneered in the mid-1980s.
Our test Pacifica Hybrid was a Limited model with an optional Customer Preference Package, which meant it nearly as plush and comfortable as a genuine luxury vehicle. In fact, it was hard to imagine the leather seats and trim could any more upscale. The 20-speaker Harmon Karden was equally impressive.
Although all electric vehicles are more expensive than comparable gas-powered ones because of the high cost of batteries, the 2018 Pacific Hybrid starts at $39,995, which is very reasonable considering everything it has to offer. Limited models start at $44,995, while ours was $48,580 with the additional equipment.
As Drive Revolution Chair Sarah Shelton of U.S. News & World Report said when the winners were announced, "The Pacifica Hybrid's 84 mpg-e and 33 miles of all-electric range saves you hundreds in fuel costs each year over the average new minivan or SUV" Shelton said. "But what's particularly remarkable is that you can achieve this fuel economy while also carrying a family of seven in the front and a suitcase for everyone in the back. This, along with a notable amount of standard equipment, makes the Pacifica Hybrid a truly family-friendly vehicle."
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited
Base price: $44,995
Price as tested: $48,580
Type: Plug-in hybrid minivan
Engine: 3.6-liter V6 eHybrid engine (260 hp)
Transmission: eFlite Si-EVT Transmission
EPA estimated mileage: 84 MPGe/32 MPG
Overall length: 204 inches
Base curb weight: 4,987 pounds
Final assembly: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
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