Best forBest for families who want the functionality of a minivan and the eco-benefits and cost-savings of a hybrid
Top BenefitsHybrid offers best fuel economy among minivans, lots of cargo space, seats up to seven
ConsiderationsSecond row of seats fold down but don’t fold into the floor of the vehicle, requires access to charging station or electric outlet, not suitable for towing
Bottom lineThe Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is an attractive family hauler with great technology, comfort and cargo space. It’s the first minivan available in Canada with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and the ability to drive for extended periods on battery only. As a result, it provides significant savings on fuel and is a better overall choice for the environment.
When it comes to meeting the needs of families, it’s hard to top the practicality of a minivan. Designed as people movers, minivans have long stood atop the automotive landscape as an ideal choice for families in need seats for seven or eight passengers, with the cargo space necessary to haul everything from hockey bags to double strollers to camping gear and more.
The Chrysler Pacifica was introduced in 2017 to replace the outgoing Town and Country, and for the first time ever in the segment, the Pacifica offered both a traditional gas engine and a plug-in hybrid for customers to choose from. Our Today’s Parent Approved editors and parent testers put the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid through its paces and found that the spacious interior, the unique rear entertainment system and the significant fuel savings of the hybrid system make it a great choice for families. The Pacifica Hybrid is offered in three trim levels, each with front wheel drive and seven passenger seating. We spent our time in the top level Limited trim and found it easy to drive, comfortable and full of family-friendly conveniences.
All trim levels of the Pacifica Hybrid offer safety items such as eight airbags, rear back-up camera, electronic park brake with safety hold, electronic stability control with hill start assist, and tire pressure monitor. You’ll need to select the mid-range Touring-L trim if you’re looking for rear park assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection.
If you’re looking for the full line up of impressive safety features, including 360-degree monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning, and both parallel and perpendicular park assist, you’ll need to move up to the Limited top-level trim. Our editors found the park assist features very useful when fitting the minivan between two parked cars. While you are still in control of the gas and brake pedals (typical of this kind of feature), the Pacifica Hybrid takes over your wheel and gives you step-by-step instructions so you can slide into your space without a scratch. The active braking with its warning beeps also prevented our editors from bumping into a raised curb. Parent testers agreed these features were nice to have, and found the 360-camera useful for safe and easy parking.
It’s also worth noting that the Pacifica Hybrid has received a 5-Star rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) and is deemed a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Whether you’re running errands or you’re driving to weekend sports tournaments, you want your family to be comfortable, and that starts with the seats. The driver’s seat on all trims can be adjusted 12 ways, including four ways to adjust lumbar support. If you opt for the Limited trim, the front passenger seat gets the same treatment. The driver’s seating position is also fairly high up—something our testers liked because it gave them a better overall view while driving. In the second row, a pair of bucket seats are comfortable and can be slid forward with the touch of a button to allow for easy access to the third row.
Parent testers and editors alike were taken with the comfort of the driver’s seat, strongly agreeing the seat offered great head, neck and lumbar support with ample leg room to boot. Passengers were also comfy cozy in their seats, telling us they were comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. One tester said the seats are one of the best things about this minivan, especially when it comes to back support.
Fabric seating is standard on the entry level Touring Plus trim, while leather seating is standard on the Touring-L trim. In the top-end Limited trim, you’ll be upgraded to Napa leather, and the seats are ventilated for a more comfortable ride in warmer months.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid features tri-zone climate control, so you can set separate temperatures for the driver, front seat passenger and people in the second and third rows—a feature appreciated by most testers while on the road. Heated front seats are standard on all but the base Touring Plus trim, but if you want a heated steering wheel you’ll have to choose the top-end Limited Trim (it’s not available on any others). If you want a shady spot for kids to nap, retractable sun shades for both the second and third rows are available on all but the base model. Our editors found these shades easy to use—a real bonus on top of the major benefit you get from keeping the sun out of the eyes of slumbering little ones.
Cupholders are always an important feature when it comes to family vehicles, and the Pacifica Hybrid has more than enough for each passenger. So too is connectivity and access to power, and this minivan comes equipped with eight USB ports, two 12-volt outlets, and one three-prong 115-volt outlet.
An aspect of the Pacifica Hybrid that really stood out to our editors and testers was how quiet the vehicle is when driving. When in electric mode, the minivan is almost silent, leaving one tester’s partner to question whether or not he had turned on the engine. Parent testers reported no loud revving of the engine when merging onto the highway and all found that their little ones were able to nap peacefully in the backseat.
One of the best features of a minivan is the massive amount of cargo space it can offer, even with all three rows in use. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid offers 915 litres (32.3 cubic feet) of cargo space with all seats up and an incredible 3,979 L (140.5 cu. ft.) of space when the third row Stow and Go seats are lowered. We found the Stow and Go seats very easy to use, and editors were able to pack up every stroller in their arsenal, from a full-size single stroller (the UppaBaby Vista) to a wide side-by-side double stroller (Valco Baby Snap Duo), with plenty of room to spare. Parent testers were also able to store their strollers, sports gear, groceries and more in the back of the Pacifica Hybrid without breaking a sweat.
Due to the placement of the Pacifica Hybrid’s battery, the second row of seats aren’t Stow and Go, but they can move forward as well as fold down compactly to make way for more storage space when needed. On those rare occasions where you might need the full interior to haul home a lot of stuff, the second row seats can also be removed from the vehicle and replaced when done. While the steps to remove the seats are not complicated, they do require a little muscle (lift with your legs!).
The Pacifica Hybrid has plenty of practical and useful small storage areas, too. With the removal of the traditional gear shifter in favour of a rotary gear selector that’s on the centre console, additional space has been created between the driver and front passenger where you can store a purse or other items. A deep storage unit between the two front row seats also provides extra space for snacks, wipes, DVDs (for the entertainment system) and other items.
With the benefit of being able to drive on battery electric power alone for about 53 kilometres, the Pacifica Hybrid offers exceptional overall fuel economy. When there is no longer enough charge remaining to drive the vehicle on battery alone, the engine kicks in and works with the electric motors to operate like a regular hybrid. (It’s important to note that actual driving distance using only the battery can depend on a variety of factors including outside temperature, driving style, use of heating or air conditioning and the type of terrain you drive on.)
The Pacifica Hybrid’s posted fuel economy rating is 7.3 L/100 km in the city and 7.4 L/100 km on the highway. However, in this case, fuel economy ratings don’t tell the full story. When you consider how much driving one can typically do on battery alone, many families could find themselves driving on the battery most days without needing to use any gasoline. As a result, one would need to fill up at the gas station far less often than with a typical gas-only vehicle resulting in better fuel economy than posted and greater savings overall. While you would have the added cost of charging the battery to consider, studies have shown that the overall cost savings of using battery power compared to gasoline can be as high as 80 percent (depending on where you live).
While one family living in a downtown urban area found it difficult to charge the Pacifica Hybrid at their condo overnight, other testers had no problems. One parent was especially grateful for how much gas money the Pacifica Hybrid saved his family over the course of their holiday driving.
Like all minivans, the Pacifica Hybrid is designed for maximum interior space with a high roofline from front to back, so it can feel like a very large vehicle when you first start driving it. But it’s about the same size overall as many mid-sized SUVs, and our testers did find that the more they drove, the more they became used to driving it. Plus, it handles well on the road. Our editors found the vehicle’s wheel, gas and brake pedal to be very responsive, so they were able to react quickly in response to other traffic. Parent testers had similar experiences, telling us the vehicle was easy to merge on the highway, change lanes, engage the gas and brake pedals and stop abruptly. It is, however, worth noting that the Pacifica has a fairly large turning radius, making it a challenge to pull a quick U-turn.
While our editors found the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has a noticeable blind spot, they were big fans of the minivan’s blind spot warning system (available on the Touring-L and Limited trims). When an approaching vehicle enters your blind spot, the corner of your side mirror will light up and a warning will beep—an especially helpful feature when trying to change lanes on the highway. In fact, parent testers noted that they’re particularly fond of it.
A unique driving feature of this minivan comes from the fact that it’s powered by both a battery electric motor and a regular gas engine. Like its non-hybrid sibling, the Pacifica Hybrid has a traditional V6 gas engine under its hood, but it also has two separate electric motors that can power the vehicle either on their own or in combination with the gas engine. Chrysler designed the Pacifica Hybrid to figure out the optimum driving combination on its own—so you don’t have to give it a thought: it will typically use the electric motor from a standing start to move forward with, but its computer system will recognize when extra power is needed and the gas engine will kick in to give it an extra boost. The end result is a vehicle that offers better acceleration than most people would think a minivan could offer.
Installing a car seat isn’t generally a walk in the park, but a minivan’s sliding door and generous space inside make the process a lot easier. First and foremost, the sliding side doors on a minivan offer a wide opening to place a car seat in the vehicle—a real bonus if you’re installing a large, heavy convertible car seat. Inside the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, there are four pairs of UAS/LATCH anchors, one on each of the middle seats and two across the back row. The anchors are easy to reach and don't require having to dig down into the seat, plus there are no flap covers (a feature on some vehicles that can scrape fingers as you attach the UAS connectors).
Convertible car seats fit easily in either rear or forward facing installations. Our editors found that you may have to recline the vehicle’s seat a bit to achieve the required recline angle on the car seat. Additionally, in order to accommodate the space needed for a rear-facing infant recline, you have to move the vehicle’s front seats forward—but since there’s lots of room in the Pacifica Hybrid, it’s typically a slight shift forward, nothing major.
Our testers also found it super easy to get their baby in and out of the car seat thanks to the generous door frame and sliding doors that are never in the way, no matter how close someone parks beside you. The Pacifica’s seats are also at a good height for lifting kids in and out—no bending or exaggerated body movements required.
The interior of the Pacifica Hybrid has a clean and orderly layout to it and the finishes are really nice. While some aspects take getting used to, such as the new rotary gear switch, everything seems to be ergonomically well placed. Our editors felt immediately at home in the spacious and comfortable cabin. The windows stretched along the vehicle’s sides let in a lot of light, giving the minivan an airy feel.
Editors and parent testers felt the interior is appointed with high-quality materials that are durable and easy to clean. The Touring-L trim comes with leather seats, but you will upgrade to premium vented Nappa leather on the top-end Limited trim. Parents really liked the look of the blue stitching on the Nappa leather seats, saying it gave the vehicle a premium look. Our editors, meanwhile, found the premium leather seats soft to the touch, but not easily scratched, even when installing a car seat. Parents agreed that the leather is durable—which is great considering the wear and tear a troupe of tots can cause.
Our testers noted that a lot of thought (and humour) went into the design. In the storage compartment under the console there’s an etching of all the old Chrysler vans up to the Pacifica. And umbrella holders beside the driver and front passenger are highlighted with sun and raincloud drawings.
If you are planning a long drive with the family, you know how important it is to keep the kids occupied. In the top-level Limited trim, the Pacifica Hybrid offers its U-Connect Theatre system, which includes two 10-inch HD screens mounted on the back of the driver and passenger front seats. The system not only has the ability to play DVDs but also has both USB and HDMI connections as well as built-in games such as Sudoku, Tic-Tac-Toe, Solitaire, Back Seat Bingo and even an “Are We There Yet” feature, which lets kids know where they are based on the route that was input into the GPS system. The two screens can even be paired so that kids can play games with each other.
Our parent testers really liked the 13-amplified speaker standard on the Limited trim (a premium 20-speaker sound system upgrade is available for the Limited trim). Our editors found the 13 amplified speakers offered a full sound throughout the vehicle. Parents also enjoyed how the system was compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is standard on all trim levels. In addition, the Touring Plus and Touring-L trims come equipped with first-row USB charging port, hands-free communication with Bluetooth streaming audio, a media hub with USB port and auxiliary audio input jack, SiriusXM satellite radio with a one-year subscription, and a U-connect multimedia centre with an 8.4-inch touchscreen and six speakers.
While most vehicles on the market today offer Bluetooth connectivity with your phone, it can often be tricky to get a phone connected. Not so with the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Our editors and most testers had no problems connecting their phone via Bluetooth (though one tester said it was only somewhat easy to do this). With your phone connected to your vehicle, you can stream music and take advantage of hands-free phone calling. Our editors also found the vehicle’s voice control system works effectively, making it even easier to make those hands-free phone calls. The Limited trim also comes with a premium navigation system that will tell you your current road as well as the speed limit—a feature our editors appreciated while driving in an unfamiliar area.
Price is important for families especially (your dollar has to stretch), but you are going to pay a premium for a hybrid vehicle. The Pacifica Hybrid starts at $51,445, while the top-trim Limited starts at $56,945—but it’s really important to note that the value proposition of this minivan requires a deeper dive than just looking a list price alone because you could be eligible for some hefty rebates and there’s big cost savings over time, too.
Ontario offers a $14,000 rebate, which brings the start price down to $39,056, with the top trim Limited edition starting at $44,556—which brings the price point in line with non-hybrid minivans. Rebates in B.C. ($5,000) and Quebec ($8,000) are lower, so upfront savings are more minimal.
But then there’s the ongoing fuel savings you get from a hybrid. There are lots of factors that can impact savings from family to family, but studies done have shown that in most of Canada the fuel cost savings for every kilometre driven on battery electric charge compared to gasoline can be as high as 80 percent. Depending on your driving patterns and amount of driving you do, the possibility exists to save hundreds, or even thousands, each year.
Our testers loved the spaciousness of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid as well as the generous cargo room and the ease of access when it came to installing car seats and getting kids in and out of the vehicle. Most testers gave the Pacifica Hybrid good or very good ratings for quality and ease of use. Given the list price, it wasn’t surprising that testers were a bit more lukewarm on value, but it’s worth keeping in mind the exceptional fuel economy you get from a plug-in hybrid, offering savings over the lifespan of the vehicle. Both our editors and testers liked the U-Connect Theatre system and all the built-in activities available for kids, which can be a real sanity saver on long drives. Overall, families loved this minivan—so much so that some didn’t want to give it back at the end of their week-long test drive.
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