The Chrysler Pacifica PHEV is unique and although a fine vehicle, there may be a number of reasons why it remains unique.
There are no two ways to tackle the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid minivan: it’s really expensive, despite federal and provincial incentives and it only partially delivers on its efficiency potential – that is if you principally adhere to its limits.
I struggle most with the why. As in: “Why would anyone buy the Pacifica PHEV?” Do note, I’m enquiring as to why the PHEV version, and specifically the Chrysler Pacifica itself. So the question really comes down to why, before incentives, rebates and other deals, would a consumer, you, me, spend $9,000 (Touring Plus trims in both cases) more for 650 lb. of hybrid system components? For fuel economy? To save money at the pumps?
What makes it a PHEV?
The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV relies on the 3.6-litre V6 as do many other FCA vehicles. The difference is that this one is set up with an Atkinson cycle for extra efficiency. Along with the eFlite Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT) and its included dual-motor EV drive capability, the system’s total output is of 260-horsepower.
The element that makes it is a PHEV is its battery pack with its 16-kWh total energy capability. All said, the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV is endowed with 50km full electric range. This is where the numerous issues arise. There are no drive modes with the exception of setting the transmission in “L” for increased brake regeneration. There are no battery-save modes or any way to manage the charge and EV range.
Pacifica PHEV limits
I tested the Pacifica PHEV as though it was any other car. And so, the family and I went on a little road trip to grandma’s place. I live just over 1km from the highway. While in my neighbourhood, using electricity to get around was great however as I got on the highway, I remained in EV mode and quickly enough drained the battery. For the majority of the drive route, some 90km travelled, my PHEV was nothing more than a regular hybrid. With little time between stops and although only 2 hours are needed to get a full charge on a Level 2 charger, I never retrieved more than 34km of range after an hour-long lunch stop. I don’t need to go over the return trip…
The point of all this is that after a week’s worth of driving the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV, I managed a combined average of 7.5L/100km. I was properly stoked with the result. By comparison, the abysmal Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV returned 9.5L/100km in very similar driving conditions.
This is where I take issue with most PHEVs however I will present I will put a positive twist on my thoughts: As a soccer parent with the office only 20km away and with the ability to charge up, picking up the kids and taking them to their countless after-school activities, you may only need a tank of fuel a month. That’s incredible. The key is remaining within the PHEV’s comfort zone.
The price to pay
By doing so, it will still take you a very long time to get your initial investment back, that $9,000. However, with discounts and incentives, the gap shrinks to $7,000 unless you live in Quebec or BC where the difference shrinks more. For the biggest saving, you can always get a brand-new top-trim Dodge Grand Caravan GT for just over $37,000…
So how much is much? Base price for the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV is $54,000. My tester was a Limited with options including the 20–Speaker harman/kardon audio system and the useless S Appearance Package for a grand total of just over $62,000. Ouch.
For the money, you do get premium nappa leather, Uconnect 4C with navigation, 3rd usb ports and Chrysler Advanced SafetyTec Group (active safety features).
Drives like a minivan
Driving the Pacifica PHEV is no different than driving any other minivan with the exception of plugging it in as often as you can. You simply push the start button, put’er in “D” and off you go. The hybrid powertrain is plenty powerful so no complaints here.
Where the Pacifica disappoints is in the lack of refinement overall. The ride quality is short on plushness – this is a Chrysler minivan after all. As well, the cabin gets far too noisy at speeds. There’s a considerable amount of road and wind noise that penetrates indoors as of about 90km/h. As a whole, the driving experience is perfectly fine.
Not for me
I would never spend the extra money on a PHEV as I refuse to stick to a car’s limitations, especially if I’m paying a supplemental amount. However, the better deal among the three trims seems to be the Touring-L which is $55,500 before incentives which amounts to a minimum of $11,000 at the moment.
In the minivan segment, my money would go on a $41,750 2020 Toyota Sienna LE AWD.