When I first saw the prototype of the new Pacific, a minivan on the auto show circuit, I said two words I've never said together before, sexy minivan.
Now it's here in the sheet metal and living proof that I wasn't drunk.
It looks great.
When you roll up the last year's minivan sales numbers, Chrysler crushes the category they invented in 1984.
This new Pacifica does what an inventor always wants to do, but seldom does, reinvent.
Now, Pacifica dances on the grave of the now gone Town & Country, and the fleet only Grand Caravan, two killer sellers as of 2016.
So this guy's got its work cut out for it.
Now, getting folks to like a minivan starts and stops at their first impression, because so many folks don't like the way they look.
Making these look good is always a game of hide the breadbox.
And they've done it very well here, in two places.
One, at the front.
Look how this kind of comes to a compact, elegant, almost sporty front end.
And the same thing happens out here at the back where a lot of mini-vans get all pudgy and blown out, and they bring it to a tapered end.
Now, not only is this a mini-van.
It's a hybrid minivan.
None other has ever been on the market before and it's a plug-in on top of that.
One of the first things you know is, kind of like when you shop for clothes, copy the mannequin.
Copy the press car they put a light interior in here which really compliments the green house and if you get that optional panoramic roof here you get all this additional light bouncing in and suddenly the vehicle feels lighter and frankly less larger than it actually is.
Nice qualities materials as well boy it's going to be a shame to splatter juice box all over them.
and here is a cruel trick.
The shifter and the volume knob are real near each other and kinda feel the same if you reach down while you looking out the road like you should be and there are almost no dents on this thing except to go into low you can go p, r, n ,d just by turning it.
The feds are currently looking into car makers using shifter like this, they have caused some issues Stow and go seats remain the envy of the industry, and easier than ever to handle the second row with the kids' seat still in place.
The main impression that hits you right off the bat, though, is this giddy feeling that something this big can move this quickly and this quietly.
That's the hybridized magic of this guy.
What we've got is 30 miles of pure EV range on a full wall charge, which will take you 14 hours or so on a regular wall outlet.
But you're not gonna do that.
You're gonna plug it into a level two charger, and it gets a full charge in 2 hours.
And of course, being a plug in hybrid, once that's depleted it doesn't matter.
Then you're still running in a gas and Mild hybrid form.
But the way that it lightens up the feel of the vehicle, is really interesting.
And your efficiency overall is great.
84 MPGE and 32 traditional MPG.
Out of something this big which by the way weighs 600 pounds more in hybrid trim.
It's pushing 5,000, but gets that kind of efficiency.
And efficiency aside, it's just damn fun to drive.
You heard me, this minivan is fun to drive, because it's got real punching throttle response, that's the electric part kicking in, plus.
That electric motor's teamed with a V6, not some little wimpy inline-four.
And you're looking at a car with 260 horsepower, though interestingly, the torque number is as much a state secret as Kim Jong-un's hair products, they don't put one out, but I can tell you this, it's plenty.
And here's the biggest surprise of all What is that little snarl I hear back there?
This thing's got a great exhaust note.
Now I know Mazaratti's a cousin in the FCA kingdom, but I didn't think that they would do any sharing to be honest.
The other beauty in this power train is the elegance of the hand off between electric and combined modes.
You almost can't tell.
In fact, many times I had to either look at one of these silly little efficiency gauges or I had to look at the oil-pressure display to see if it was generating any.
I had no other clue if the gas engine was fired or not.
Still no all-wheel drive in this guy, and Toyota still has a lock on all-wheel minivans with the Sienna.
This front wheel drive beast has an interesting lack of a transmission, actually.
No CVT, no traditional automatic, but it's got a gear box composed of two electric motors, a clutch, some planetary gears, and of course, the gas engine.
And they function virtually as a transmission, but a very unusual one.
And both those motors, by the way, can drive the vehicle in different phases.
Most hybrids have one drive and one Region, maybe that's why I'm feeling all this nice, punchy torque.
Okay, my only gripe is ride quality.
I'm on a beautiful road right now, and it's fine.
But around the crappy roads of San Francisco and most of urban California, They have tuned this thing a little harsh for it's role to be honest.
You can drive over a penny till it wasn't a dime and that will get a little old in a family vehicle I think.
But you will mostly enjoy the handling except when the road is really awful.
Now take a look at our deep dive on the cabin tech for a full look.
But I can tell you that there's no real cutting edge changes here that move the ball forward.
And notably, no car player Android auto, at least as of right now.
Ditto goes for the driver assist.
You've got a pretty good array of them, but none of them are pushing the envelope compared to other car makers.
You can get a new Pacifica for under 30 grand but it won't be like this Pacifica.
The hybrid starts at a premium level at about 43 with destination.
But then there's the platinum package we have for three grand you get the driver assist technology, the second row media system I could like without that.
And a special key for teen drivers that limits top speed and such.
The panoramic roof makes total sense to me on a luxury minivan, but it's pushing 1,800.
All in we're about 48,000 and that's about as far as you can take one of these.
I recall when these guys invented the category of minivan.
It was 1984, and they've now done what inventors always wanna do, but seldom do and that is reinvent their own category.
I think that's not hyperbole in this case.
They've also put a hybrid power train in a place where it makes as much or more sense than it does in many cars.
This should be a home run for FCA, and for their sake it needs to be.
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