The Chrysler Pacifica is possibly the most awarded minivan ever. FCA has invested billions of dollars into the development of the Pacifica in an effort to make it the top of its class. So, what has all the investment done for this hybrid family hauler?
Elegance is not a word often used on minivans, but the design of the Pacifica is a great example of a top tier product. The upper and lower grills combine to produce a dumbbell shape for the front end. The hood has clearly defined lines that flow into the sides and disappear seamlessly. Oddly enough, the protruding front fenders give the minivan an aggressive, widebody look.
As you move down the side, chrome trim outlines the windows and runs along the lower panels. Chrome can be overwhelming, but here it is tastefully applied. On the driver’s side, there are two ports: one for the battery plug in and one for the fuel fill. There are side marker lights with an amber color in front of the front wheel on the arch, and red color behind the rear of the rear wheel again on the arch. The slope from the roof to the front bumper is nearly linear with a slight change at the bottom of the windshield, transitioning into the hood.
Moving to the rear, the minivan shape really shows. From behind, the Pacifica wouldn’t be mistaken for a crossover. The running lights around the taillights form almond eye-like shapes, with the small points pointing toward the center. The rear hatch is one piece, meaning the window doesn’t open separately from the hatch.
Minivans have an incredible amount of space inside given their exterior dimensions. This is immediately apparent when opening either of the rear sliding doors. While some trims have eight seats, our tester had the seven-seat configuration with middle row captain’s chairs.
Getting into the driver’s seat is easy and the position is upright and comfortable. The Limited trim is adorned with attractive leather and stitching everywhere. The front seats have their own separate arm rests that fold down for personalized comfort. A small center console sits between the seats and looks like an add on rather than a standard feature.
The shift dial is large and clear, but it is situated too close to the radio dials. The mistake could be made of turning the shift dial instead of the radio dial, changing from drive to reverse or park. Luckily, Chrysler has thought of this and it won’t make the shift if you are moving at unsafe speeds to do so. Along with that, the push button parking brake is located close to the climate control push buttons on the dash. It might be accidentally engaged when trying to adjust the AC. The parking brake button should be moved to the left side of the steering column where most vehicle’s parking brake controls are.
Moving into the middle row, again we find there are comfortable captain’s chairs. The rear of the front seats each have a screen in them with separate HDMI input ports. There are two remotes and two wireless headsets so that the two screens can play different content at the same time. Next to the HDMI ports, there are also USB and 3.5mm headphone jack ports. “It’s capable of sedating otherwise restles children for hours on end” said Car and Driver.
Up above, the tri-pane panoramic sunroof makes for a wide-open feeling within the cabin for all three rows. As expected, this can be closed to block the sun. In addition, the side windows for both the second and third rows have window shades that can be put up as well.
Getting into the third row is easy. The middle row can tilt and slide, or better yet, just walk between the middle row seats to get to the third row. The third row isn’t quite as comfortable for adults, but there is still enough room for two six-foot-tall people to fit. There is only one USB port in the third row, and it’s on the passenger side near the cup holders.
The tri-zone climate control allows for the driver, front passenger, and both rear rows to control their temperatures separately.
The second-row seats are removable and the third-row folds flat into the floor. In this configuration, there is enough room to fit full 4×8 sheets in the back for hauling materials. This can make for a good sleeping platform while camping as well.
Minivans typically have poor driving characteristics, but that is changing with the newer models. The Pacifica Hybrid has a decent amount of torque off the line. Chirping or even spinning the tires is easy. Horsepower and torque are acceptable at 260 hp and 262 ft-lbs, but the instant torque of the electric motor makes it feel more powerful than that.
Body lean is minimal, and the suspension is firm enough to make the Pacific feel stable in the corners, granted this isn’t a sports cart and shouldn’t be driven as one. Highway cruising is great with a smooth ride and plenty of power for passing when needed. At freeway speeds there is a bit of wind and road noise. It’s not overly loud but could use some improvement.
Fuel mileage is where the Pacifica really shines. We averaged a little over 32 mpg during our week with the hybrid. The EPA rates it as 30 mpg gas only and 82 mpge. Having said that, we also could have driven on pure electric had we desired to do so. The 110-volt charger makes for long charging times of 14 hours, but for those with shorter commutes, it can simply be plugged in each night and driven for the day. With longer commutes it would make sense to have a place to charge at work as well as at home. As a company vehicle making multiple stops with short stays at a home base, the optional 220-volt charger is strongly recommended. The 220-volt charger can take as little as two hours to charge the battery.
Starting at $45,845, the Pacifica Hybrid Limited is very well-equipped. Our test model was equipped with a few options, and three of them were listed as no charge. The no charge options were the 20 speaker Harman Kardon sound system, Uconnect Theater with Streaming, and KeySense. The additional options were the Advanced safetyTec group for $995 and the Tri-pane panoramic Sunroof for $1,895. Along with the destination charge, the total for our tester was $50,230.
We were very impressed with the 2020 Pacifica Hybrid. It has good power, great economy, and luxury appointments all for $50,000. It drives better than expected, with enough room to haul just about anything needed from the hardware store, and seats six people comfortably.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.