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Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient minivan ever

Then again, it's also the first plug-in hybrid minivan, so it's sort of expected.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

If the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, the first plug-in hybrid minivan, wasn't the most fuel-efficient van ever, Chrysler would have a big problem on its hands. But there's no problem here, because the EPA just confirmed the Pacifica Hybrid's spot atop the scrum.

The EPA just confirmed that the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid achieves 84 MPGe. MPGe means miles per gallon of gas equivalent, and it's used to show potential owners how much energy is consumed over a given distance when running on electricity alone. It's used on battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

During the course of its testing, the EPA also bumped the Pacifica Hybrid's estimated electric-only range from 30 miles to 33. Total driving range is estimated at 566 miles, up from the 530 Chrysler estimated. The Pacifica Hybrid also earned a score of 10 on the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide, which rates vehicles based on fuel economy and emissions, a first for any minivan.

The Pacifica Hybrid packs a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery mated to a 3.6-liter V6. It can be charged in about two hours using a 240-volt Level 2 charger, or about 14 hours using a traditional wall outlet. Net output is somewhere around 260 horsepower, and Chrysler has not mentioned its torque figures, which is a bit strange.

Chrysler managed to get its Pacifica Hybrid to market before any other automaker, which gives it a huge advantage in the marketplace. As minivans grow less popular in favor of crossovers, adding a plug-in hybrid model could help bring buyers back into the fray. Whether other automakers will follow in Chrysler's footsteps remains to be seen, but a new Honda Odyssey should be appearing during this year's auto show season, so that could very well change.