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Pacifica Hybrid vs. Grand Canyon

Autosphere » Fleet » Pacifica Hybrid vs. Grand Canyon
The Pacifica Hybrid in the Sedona desert. (Photo: Jack Kazmierski)

fleetdigest test drives the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

Much has changes since the very first minivan (a Plymouth Voyager) rolled off the assembly line  back in 1983. While the very first minivans were capable people movers with extra space for all the “stuff” modern life entails, today’s minivans do all of the above in style and with the added benefit of cutting-edge technologies and numerous creature comforts.

We had the opportunity to take one of these marvels of modern technology on a trek through Arizona, with stops at the Grand Canyon and the Sedona desert. With five passengers (we had room for two more), plus two week’s worth of luggage, our Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid was filled to the brim, with ample room left over for us to travel in comfort for hours on end, as we explored Arizona.

For 2019, the Pacifica Hybrid is available in three flavours – Touring Plus ($44,571), Touring-L ($46,071), and Limited ($50,071). All are powered by the same 3.6L V6 engine with a hybrid component, and all are equipped with the same electrically variable transmission. The V6 delivers 287 hp and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, and the Pacifica Hybrid has an all-electric range of over 50km, on a full charge. This means many commuters could potentially use this minivan on a daily basis, going to and from work, without ever needing to use a drop of gasoline.

For longer trips, with a full tank of gas, and a fully-charged battery, FCA claims the Pacifica Hybrid has a total driving range of 835km—or from Toronto to Montreal, and halfway back again. 

Hybrid system

To maximize efficiency, the Pacifica Hybrid is equipped with two electric drive motors. Computers monitor power demands constantly, and the Pacifica Hybrid chooses when to run in gas mode and when to use battery power, depending on performance needs. And once the vehicle slows down, regenerative braking charges the batteries automatically.

While driving through some of the hilly parts of Arizona, we were able to charge the batteries while descending some of the steeper inclines, gaining as much as 20km on some of the longer and steeper stretches of road.

Plug the PacificaHybrid into a 240-volt Level 2 charger, and you can get full battery capacity in as little as two hours. A regular outlet requires 14 hours to charge the battery to 100%.

Technology

FCA engineers have done a splendid job designing the Uconnect infotainment system for the Pacifica Hybrid. It’s hard not to be impressed with the crisp, clean and logical layout of the entire system, which includes a 7-inch full-colour driver information display, a standard 7-inch or optional 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and available 4G Wi-Fi. Second row passengers get their own 10-inch touchscreen displays on some models.

The touchscreens and displays are easy to see and read, day and night, and intuitively simple to use and navigate. The massive 8.4-inch touchscreen is especially eye-pleasing, and since it replaces a number of traditional knobs and buttons, it offers a cleaner and more sophisticated layout of the entire dashboard area.

Driving

We drove the Pacifica Hybrid from the Mexican border, all the way to the top of Arizona, covering hundreds of kms. The cabin is quiet and the seats are comfortable, even after sitting in them for hours.

We also accidentally had the chance to experience how effective the KeySense programmable key fob is. With this technology, the owner of the vehicle can place pre-set limits on speed and audio settings, along with other key safety and security settings. This is ideal both for parents with teenage drivers in the family, as well as fleet managers with lead-foot drivers.

When I say we “accidentally” had a chance to experience the effectiveness of this key fob, what I mean is that FCA gave us two key fobs for the trip—one with limits on it, and the other without. Unbeknownst to us, we used the key fob with limits for the first few days of our trip, and we quickly grew frustrated because we couldn’t drive as fast as we normally would, nor could we turn up the radio as loud as we had wanted.

A few days later, we started using the other key fob (without limits), and suddenly a whole new world of speed and sound was opened up to us. What a delight!

The KeySense programmable key fob is just one of numerous safety and security features available on the Pacifica Hybrid, making this minivan a ‘must-see’ for fleets that need a capable and environmentally-friendly people and cargo mover with practical solutions for a variety of needs and wants.

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