Roadshow's first long-term Chrysler Pacifica proved to be , whether it was being used for video production or multistate road trips with dogs in tow. We liked it so much, in fact, that now we have another one -- albeit with one major difference.
Say hello to our new 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Whereas the standard Pacifica makes do with a 3.6-liter V6 and a 9-speed automatic, the Pacifica Hybrid ties an Atkinson-cycle V6 to an electric motor and a 16-kWh battery, and all that good stuff heads to the front wheels through a trick transmission that operates like a CVT.
Its green-themed tech makes for one surprisingly efficient vehicle. The EPA estimates the Pacifica Hybrid's battery will provide 33 miles of electric-only operation per charge, for a miles-per-gallon equivalent of 84 miles per gallon equivalent. If we can't get to a charge point, it will run like a traditional gas-electric hybrid and return about 32 mpg combined, or 10 mpg higher than the standard Pacifica's combined rating.
As with all things in life, sacrifices had to be made in order to get that 16kWh battery to fit in the van. The battery hides under the floor, which is where Chrysler's excellent Stow-N-Go seating system usually conceals the second-row seats -- that means the second-row captain's chairs can no longer disappear into the floor. Bummer. The Pacifica's vacuum is also gone, because that's where the charging cable hides when it's not in use.
Just like our last Pacifica, Roadshow's new Pacifica Hybrid comes in the range-topping Limited trim, which nets us Nappa leather seats, power sliding doors and Chrysler's Uconnect Theater rear-seat entertainment system. Our long-termer packs the $395 Hybrid Appearance Package, which features 18-inch alloy wheels (17s are standard) and a whole host of blacked-out exterior trim. We did, however, skip over the $995 package that adds a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise control. Clad in Velvet Red Pearl paint with white leather inside, our plug-in minivan is a pretty expensive proposition at $44,785 before destination and taxes.
But enough about the specs: Let's hit the road and see what feels different right off the bat.
The first 2,000 miles
Just as before, Roadshow's Detroit crew will be the Pacifica Hybrid's primary caretakers. The car first landed with our video producer, Nick Miotke, who had a Level 2 EV charger installed at his house specifically for this van. As such, it never leaves his house without a full charge -- while it takes 14 hours to fill the Pacifica Hybrid's empty battery via a standard 120-volt wall outlet, it takes just 2 hours to top 'er off with the Level 2.
Nick is using that short charge time to his benefit. Since Roadshow's shoot locations are only a dozen miles or so away from Nick's home, the van spent nearly all of its first 1,500 miles on electricity alone, necessitating a single fill-up of regular unleaded gas and not a drop more.
The van has already proven itself, but even with Stow-N-Go missing, it's a champ. It's capacious enough to eat up an entire shoot's worth of cameras, rigs and support gear, with room to spare for additional shooters. Silent operation on battery power means we can run the van in the background during a shoot without any noise-related issues, which helps when it's 10,000 degrees outside.
Nick's efficiency streak is ruined when I take the Pacifica Hybrid on a road trip from Detroit to Milwaukee. There's no mode to hold the battery's charge, and it drains early on in my 300-mile journey, so it operates like a regular ol' hybrid most of the time. That's all well and good, but efficiency drops below 28 mpg at interstate speeds, meaning it's barely any more efficient than the standard gas-powered Pacifica, which is a bummer.
In the city, I get brief bursts of electric-only operation, usually after leaving a stoplight. It'll run on electrons alone for up to a mile or so before the V6 jumps into the fray, and it's barely perceptible when it does. The immediate low-down torque from the electric motor gives the Pacifica the kind of low-end hustle I never experienced in the gas variant.
Otherwise, the experience is largely the same. Uconnect remains one of my favorite infotainment systems, and its latest iteration is snappier than ever. The ride quality errs on the soft side, and while I'm not a fan of white leather in cars that see hard work, the interior both looks and feels like it's worth its hefty price tag.
We've got plenty more work in store for the Pacifica Hybrid, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our next update. Maybe I'll even plug it in this time!
: Check out our full review of the Pacifica Hybrid.
: See how well our first long-term Pacifica fared after 30,000 miles.