By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
In June we participated in the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) 2018 Northwest Green Car of the Year competition to select the most environmentally friendly vehicles available to U.S. consumers. After driving 18 different hybrid and electric cars, SUVs and a minivan we chose the 2018 Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year along with winners in several sub categories.
Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year
For us, the standout was the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It also impressed the other participating journalists and was named Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year. In the sub categories, it also received the title of Best Family-size Plug-in Hybrid.
A short time later we had a chance to drive the Pacifica Hybrid for a week, and our initial impression was reinforced. It has a good design that skirts the traditional minivan character and looks more like a slick crossover. The performance is very good and allows the driver to make safe passes of slow-moving two-lane traffic, plus it has plenty of power for a quick merge onto fast moving freeways. Buff magazine tests show a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 7.5 seconds.
Low coefficient of drag
A new super-rigid lightweight platform combined with a vault-like body structure creates one of the quietest interiors we’ve been in recently. The body design has an amazingly low 0.298 drag coefficient which enhances fuel economy and cuts noise. To stifle noise even further all Pacifica Hybrids, have an Active Noise Cancellation system.
Refined and comfortable
The Pacifica ride is smooth and comfortable with an overall feeling of refinement. The Limited trim level we tested a few weeks after the competition even flirted with luxurious. But the pièce de resistance is the fuel economy.
33-Mile electric-only range
The Pacifica Hybrid is powered by a 3.6-liter Atkinson Cycle V-6 along with two motors pulling power from the 16-kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack mounted under the floor. EPA numbers list an 84 mpg MPGe and 32 MPG using gasoline only. We averaged 28.7 mpg, which we thought was especially good for such a big vehicle. The all-electric range is the best of the category at 33 miles.
Battery pack under floor
The battery back is tucked under the second-row floor, so it doesn’t cut into the Pacifica’s spacious interior. The downside is that owners have to give up the cool Stow ‘n Go® storage areas normally under the second-row floor. The battery can be fully charged in about two hours using a 240-volt charge. A 110-volt charger takes overnight.
“Minivan drivers travel an average of 30 miles each day, meaning that most Pacifica Hybrid owners will be able to complete their daily activities solely on electric power,” Tim Kuniskis Head of Passenger Car Brands, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA – North America said. “For those longer weekend trips, the 33-mile all-electric range combined with a full tank of fuel will deliver an expected total range of 566 miles, alleviating the potential of any range anxiety.”
Hauls up to 64-sheets of plywood
Minivans are the rare vehicles that provide seating for up to seven or eight people along with the ability to haul large amounts of cargo when needed. With all the seats in place the cargo capacity of the Pacifica Hybrid is 32.3 cubic feet, and with the two rear rows folded the area expands to 140.5 cubic feet — that’s space enough to carry up to 64 sheets of quarter-inch plywood.
Don’t expect an 18-foot long, 2.5-ton minivan to handle like a sports sedan This one handles curvy mountain roads nicely but feels more like a skier cutting turns in fresh powder snow.
Three trims priced from $40,390
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is available in three trim levels: Hybrid Touring Plus, Hybrid Touring L and Hybrid Limited. Prices start at $40,390 including the destination charge for the Touring Plus and up to $46,090 for the Limited. With all the available options the Pacifica Hybrid Limited goes to nearly $50,000. The Federal Tax Credit is still available, but it may be ending soon, so if you’d like to put one of these in your driveway, you better act quickly. The Federal Tax Credit could be as much as $7,500.
Surround view camera
Technology is an important part of the Pacifica Hybrid package, and this one has a Surround View Camera system with four cameras that produce a bird’s eye perspective of the vehicle and its surroundings.
Bells and whistles
Other important equipment includes ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Hold, Forward Collision Warning-Plus and LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus. It also has Blind-spot Monitoring, ParkSense rear park assist with stop, ParkView rear backup camera, electronic stability control and electric parking brake.
We think the Chrysler Uconnect infotainment and navigation system is one of the best in the business. It has a seven-inch full-color driver information display, 8.4-inch touchscreen and one of the easiest and fastest interfaces we’ve used. The Hybrid system adds helpful information and access to charging schedules through the Uconnect system.
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid isn’t like your stereotypical minivan. Instead it’s agile, comfortable, quiet, efficient and very refined. We are surprised everyone doesn’t want one and they probably would it they drove one.