2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid long-term update: Our electrified workhorse

Checking in with our plug-in hybrid Pacifica after six grueling months as our video production vehicle.

Nicholas Miotke Video Producer / Roadshow
4 min read
Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Over the past six months and 11,000 miles I've spent with our long-term 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, I've used it for just about everything. This velvet red pearl minivan has moved kids, hockey equipment, fur babies and lumber, but more often than anything else, it's hauling cameras.

This plug-in hybrid functions primarily as the video production vehicle for Roadshow's Detroit staff. If you've ever been in or around a video crew, you'd know they come with lots of baggage (mostly physical) and can put a lot of wear and tear on a car. After having a Limited-trim, non-hybrid for 12 months, I had high hopes for how the plug-in version would perform. Happily, it hasn't disappointed in the slightest.

Watch this: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid long-term update: Our electrified workhorse

Efficient, but not perfect

Originally, we had planned on surviving Michigan's final season of the year with a set of proper winter tires. Before we knew it, though, The White Hell was upon us, leaving us to brave the snow with our 235/60R18 Michelin Premier LTX all-season tires. Thankfully, they performed well, only struggling when we reached double-digit snowfall figures. Let's be honest, though -- there are very few tires that can help a minivan handle a foot of snow with ease.

I had a Level 2 EV charger installed at home before the Pacifica Hybrid arrived, and it's been great, requiring only about two hours to charge the 16-kilowatt-hour battery back to full. I am diligently topping it off, and since most of my shoots take place within 35 miles of home, I'm usually running on electricity alone for a single leg of the trip. According to the trip computer, I'm seeing a roughly 50/50 split between EV miles and gas-engine miles. When it does kick in, the Pacifica Hybrid's 3.6-liter V6 returns about 30 miles per gallon combined. As the cold recedes for the year, I expect to see more from the electric side of the van.

Besides general maintenance, we've only had one trip to the dealership to address a weird quirk. I leave the van running during winter shoots so that editors and videographers alike can warm up as necessary. The gas engine switches on and off with haste, because there's no way to hold a charge in this thing, so it bounces back and forth constantly when the battery depletes, the V6 providing enough juice for about two minutes of silent operation at a time. When that engine kicks back in, it sounds like a damn rock tumbler, a far cry from our last Pentastar-packing Pacifica. Yet, the dealer said nothing was wrong, so I've just chalked it up to the extreme cold for now, and I'll reassess as spring rears its head.

Putting the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid to work

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A bluer shade of white

While I wouldn't have opted for our velvet red pearl paint color, it's growing on me, as are the polished, 17-inch aluminum wheels. The interior, however, is a wildly different story. Our van has the optional white Nappa leather, and while it looked sharp to begin with, it's not holding up to our use. Stains, especially from blue jeans, stand out on white leather, which makes it an odd choice for a family vehicle. Even the steering wheel, partially clad in white leather, is getting darker by the day.

The interior proves versatile otherwise, but not perfect. The PHEV battery occupies the space where Chrysler's clever Stow-N-Go seats would normally tuck away, and the second-row captain's chairs are a huge pain in the butt to remove and replace between video and familial duties. Instead, I stow only the third row, giving me 87.5 cubic feet of space to work with, which is plenty for the piles of Pelican cases required for each shoot. Even though it's a pain, removing the second row gives me 140.5 cubic feet of space, which is enough to fit several 4-by-8-inch drywall sheets or a bunch of treated lumber for the occasional home improvement.

Solid tech

The Pacifica Hybrid has an 8.4-inch touchscreen running Fiat-Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system, same as our previous long-termer. It's easy enough to navigate without any prior experience, but now that it feels like home, I have no problem accomplishing on-screen tasks without much distraction. The newer version of Uconnect's UI also vastly improves inputs for turn-by-turn directions, but I still find myself using Apple CarPlay more often than the embedded navigation.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
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2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Our Pacifica's white leather seats are starting to wear, but its onboard tech never ceases to impress.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

This van also sports a pair of screens for the second row. I'm a fan of them because my son is a fan of them; instead of asking me if we're there yet, he watches movies or plays checkers against friends on the way to baseball practice. Silence is golden. The 20-speaker Harman Kardon sound system provides a well-balanced sound for just about every style of music I enjoy, with clean, crisp highs and plenty of bottom-end.

Ready for more

The only thing the Pacifica Hybrid leaves me actually wishing for is a higher tow rating -- or any tow rating. The gas variant can tow up to 3,600 pounds, but pulling trailers isn't recommended for the PHEV. That's a no-go for me and my 19-foot open-bow runabout.

I'm only halfway through my time with our long-term minivan, and the final six months look to be a repeat of the first six, albeit with less snow. If it remains as steadfast as it has thus far, it should be a pleasant, drama-free end to this workhorse's time with me.

Plug in to Roadshow's new long-term Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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Check in with Roadshow's other long-term testers: