Hybrids aren't new, but marrying ultra-efficient, occasionally all-electric propulsion with a minivan body is. The 2018 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid is the first of this breed. With prices starting at $41,090 (including $1,095 Destination Charge and not including a $7,500 federal income-tax credit nor state credit where applicable), this fuel-sipping family hauler's MSRP is in line with its gasoline-only foes, making it an excellent buy for families with a green streak.
A note about those federal income-tax credits: customers that finance their Pacifica Hybrid will need to claim the $7,500 credit when it comes time to file their taxes. In a lease, though, the lessor will usually take the tax credit (or part of it) off the top of the total amount, reducing the leasee's payments.
What's New for 2018
Chrysler has realigned the trim names of standard and hybrid models – including creating the cheapest of the latter, the Hybrid Touring Plus – but while doing so it also rejiggered the standard and optional feature lists to the point that every trim level is practically new this year equipment-wise. Also new, as standard, is an upgraded version of Chrysler’s Uconnect 4 system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, the SafetyTec Group of electronic safety features, two new paint colors – bringing the total to nine – and other appearance-enhancing trim.
Choosing Your Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
The Chrysler Pacifica has six gasoline-fueled trims (listed separately), three of which share trim names with the Pacifica Hybrid. Those trims, however, share neither equipment levels nor MSRPs as each Hybrid costs significantly more than its namesake. A hybrid powertrain adds $7,400 to the Touring Plus, $6,500 to the Touring L, and $1,300 to the Limited compared to the gas-only powertrains. That’s why before one can pick the trim of their Pacifica Hybrid, it’s important to know what that they are gaining and losing in adding “Hybrid” to their Pacifica’s name.
According to fueleconomy.gov, the Hybrid gets a combined rating of 32 mpg to the gasoline-only Pacifica’s 22 mpg, resulting in a savings of $2,250 in five years over the average new vehicle for the former while the latter costs $1,500. More specifically, the Hybrid’s annual fuel cost – including gasoline and electricity – is $900, which is a full $750 less than non-Hybrids. And the cost to drive 25 miles – thanks to an electric-only range of 33 miles – is $1.30 on a single charge and $1.91 on gasoline alone. The non-Hybrids cost more than double that, at $2.78. And despite its fuel tank being smaller by 2.5 gallons, the Hybrid has a range of 570 miles compared to just 418 for its sibling. And what makes its efficiency all the more remarkable is the fact that the Hybrid weighs an additional 613 pounds.
Both Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid offer 3.6-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 engines, but the standard model features automatic stop/start and puts 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Hybrid version is an Atkinson-cycle V6 with two electric motors – one to drive the wheels in electric-only mode and one to charge the battery and help the gasoline engine under high load. All that gear produces a combined 260 hp, and – as with most hybrids – it channels its power through an electric continuously variable transmission.
Also like most hybrids – plug-in or otherwise – the Pacifica puts its batteries beneath the floor, an arrangement that hurts it more than usual. Firstly, the hybrid is down a seat (to seven), and it cannot have FCA’s famed Stow ‘n Go feature for the second row, as the underfloor is filled with batteries. But all is not lost, as the Hybrid features dual bucket seats in the second row. Passengers can reposition one seat apart from its neighbor, leaving an aisle in the center. A seat can also be pushed towards the center, abutting its neighbor and expanding the aisle next to the sliding door to aid third row entry and exit.
Also MIA on Hybrids is the ability to tow, a spare tire, and one of its more important selling points – especially for parents of small children – its Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum. Instead, buyers get two ways to charge the onboard battery – regenerative charging via its four-wheel disc brakes and a plug-in charging port for its 6.6-kilowatt-hour onboard battery charger with a standard 110-volt cord and available 240-volt capability – and a “pedestrian warning speaker,” the function of which is self-explanatory as the Pacifica Hybrid can run silently on the battery alone for up to 33 miles.
The Pacifica Hybrid line comprises three trim levels:
The Pacifica Hybrid trio has MSRPs that span just $5,000, with each price increase carrying enough standard equipment to more than justify the extra cash. And considering the fact that you can buy a top-shelf Limited for $38,590 thanks to its federal tax credit, it is more than a match for everything in class (and most anything that can seat seven, period), especially when you consider its improved fuel economy and electric-only range. While the Hybrid Touring L is a nice upgrade on the base Touring Plus, the Limited trim is the one to get based on its standard – and exclusive – infotainment and electronic safety systems alone.
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid heads into its second model year with additional safety features, handsome styling, great fuel economy, and good all-electric range. But it's not inexpensive, not available with eight-passenger seating, and the battery location sacrifices the foldaway second row option.
Pricing for the 2018 Pacifica Hybrid ranges from $41,340 for the new Touring Plus trim to nearly $50,000 for an optioned-up Limited model. All Pacifica Hybrids are front-wheel drive and equipped with an Atkinson-cycle 3.6-liter V6 paired with an electrically-variable transmission. An 8.4-inch touchscreen is standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as is a rearview camera, blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.
We'd choose the Touring L that builds on the Touring Plus and also offers easier-to-clean leather seats (heated in front), a power liftgate, remote start, second- and third-row sunshades, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, rear park assist with automatic braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Model: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Touring L
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Output: 220 hp / 235 lb-ft, 2 synchronous A/C electric motors (114 hp, 84 hp), estimated 260 total system hp
Transmission: Electrically variable planetary-gear transmission, dual-motor EV capability
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
MPG: 84 MPGe combined, 32 mpg/combined (gasoline only mode)
Base Price: $43,340 (including a $1,345 destination charge)
Best Value Price: $43,340
The Atkinson-cycle V6 paired with a hybrid transmission and a pair of motor-generators offers crisp acceleration thanks to the instant maximum torque of the electric motors. Fully charged, the only hybrid van offered for sale in the US is capable of 30 to 35 miles of all-electric driving. The accelerator is easy to modulate and linear, while switching from all-electric to hybrid is seamless, smooth, and shudder-free. Roadholding equals that of the best-in-class Honda Odyssey, while the Pacifica gets the nod on ride quality due to its battery-enhanced lower center of gravity – making it a top choice as a family-hauler.
At the same time, hot-rodding it will cause the electric range to drop off precipitously, while, like the conventional version, there's all-wheel-drive option.
With the Pacifica Hybrid's crisp, upscale, urban-inspired styling, we finally have a minivan with the looks to match its versatility. A low beltline offers excellent driver visibility, the interior features a flowing and stitched dash, plenty of places to stash your stuff, seating for up to seven adults, and a third row that folds into the floor for maximum payload capacity. During normal use, that cubby is available for additional storage.
Only one nit here: due to the location of the batteries, the hybrid makes due without the middle row stow-and-go seats and seating is limited to seven, so you'll need to switch to the gasoline-only Touring L if you plan on hauling more people or the gasoline-only Touring LX-and-above versions if you plan on hauling just stuff.
The Best and Worst Things
The Pacifica Hybrid's good looks, slick interior, overall versatility, and spectacular fuel economy make it the star of the minivan class. But while it offers the availability of a wide range of advanced safety systems, the most useful ones are optional only on the Limited trim.
Right For? Wrong For?
Like the regular Pacifica, it's really a shame that consumers are migrating away from minivans to crossovers, as the hybrid's blend of style, comfort, versatility, and terrific fuel efficiency make it a more compelling option for most families.
Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with driver assist, blind-spot monitoring, and a surround-view camera are only available as part of a $995 package on the top Limited model, which might affect the buying decisions of safety-focused shoppers.
The Bottom Line
Despite lacking the choice of advanced safety features on all but the Limited model, the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a top choice in the minivan segment due to its sleek styling, solid handling, outstanding fuel economy, and innate versatility.