2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited Review

Everything and the kitchen sink


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Rides like butter gliding on a sheet of ice, opulent interior appointments, top-tier infotainment system, charging ports galore, huge amounts of space and storage.
Negatives: Can't use electric-only power when you want, requires plugging in to charge, no vacuum cleaner.
Bottom Line: The plug-in hybrid version of the already excellent Pacifica adds efficiency but not necessarily convenience. It's still an impressive family hauler that's a pleasure to drive, and the family will love the premium digs.
Chrysler's approach to the hybrid minivan is interesting. Sure, it adds solid efficiency and electric-only operation (32 miles worth), but you do have to plug it in to charge it, versus the non-plug in hybrid-electric setup of the new Toyota Sienna. The hybrid setup in the Pacific Hybrid also doesn't allow you to use those electric-only miles when you want to. Most of the time, it's assisting the V6 gas engine to improve efficiency in city driving conditions. The price delta between the gas version and the hybrid version is about $4,800. We drove the recently refreshed Pacifica in Hybrid trim for a week to see how much convenience electric power adds to the equation. Read ahead for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

7.2

 

The Pacifica Hybrid is smooth, and acceleration is strong. It also manages to drive very well despite its family hauler status. The addition of an electric motors adds noticeable power, and the overall driving experience is better than the gas version. Range is a whopping 566 miles with a full charge and a full tank.

Ride Quality: The Pacifica Hybrid benefits from a lower center of gravity due to the floor-mounted battery, and it feels more stable over gaps than the gas version. The ride is very cushy but not totally isolated.

Acceleration: The addition of the electric motor provides for a quicker sprint to 60, taking about 7.4 seconds compared to the gas versions 8+ seconds. It's also about half a second quicker than the Toyota Sienna that's down about 15 hp compared to the Pacifica Hybrid. The Pacifica, surprisingly, happens to be heavier by a couple of hundred pounds.

Braking: The regen brakes aren't as spongy as we expected, and the feel is pretty good.

Steering: Steering is on center but lacks feedback and is light in effort. It's about what we'd expect from a minivan.

Handling: Handling in the hybrid is noticeably better than in the gas version thanks to the battery mounted in the floor.

Technology

9

 

The Uconnect 5 system is one of the better infotainment systems that relegate most of its controls to the screen. The Pinnacle also gets an upsized 10.1-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and voice commands, which all work very well. It's too bad the Hybrid doesn't get the much-loved vacuum cleaner found in the gas version.

Infotainment System: Uconnect 5 looks great, responds better than before, and mostly operates very well. The rear entertainment system is excellent with folding screens, wireless headphones, and input options.

Controls: Everything is easy to reach. We just wish seat heat/ventilation controls weren't buried in the touchscreen. The rotary shifter is way better than pushbutton transmission gearshift controls.

Styling

7.7

 

The changes to the Pacifica's front and rear fascias aren't dramatic, but they're enough to class up the minivan and give it a more opulent look.

Front: The Pacifica ditches the nearly same front end as the long-gone Chrylser 200 sedan. The larger grille and rectangular headlights replace the more integrated (but less attractive) grille and headlights from the last version. The lower vents and foglight housings have also been modified to match the upper portion.

Rear: The changes in back are almost as significant as the ones out in front. The bigger separate taillight units have been swapped out for a wider unit that connects via light bar.

Profile: There's no mistaking the fact that this is a minivan. At least the styling is smooth and there are no weird elements. The use of chrome trim is tasteful, and the front and rear overhangs are nicely short.

Cabin: The interior of the Pacifica Limited is luxurious and remarkably well-appointed. Even in non-Pinnacle trim, it's a delight. No other brand's minivan has this nice of an interior.

Comfort

9

 

The Pacifica has excellent seats and ample amounts of space in all three rows. Our Hybrid Limited trim came with the 2nd row Captain's Chairs, which are nearly as good as the front row seats. You can't get the Stow 'n' Go seats in the Hybrid due to the battery, but passenger comfort is about as good as it gets.

Front Seats: The soft leather seats are supportive with great adjustability, the front seats are just right for long trips with the family.

Rear Seats: The Captain's Chairs are a delight to sit it, and they also slide and recline for optimal long haul relaxation. Third row seats aren't as roomy, and cushions are flatter, but they are still quite nice to sit in for average sizeda adults.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Pacifica is very quiet at highway speeds and around town, and the sound deadening is much improved, as well. The electric-only mode is seriously hushed.

Visibility: Huge glass all around and thin pillars provide excellent 360-degree visibility.

Climate: Large vents and huge volumes of airflow make for an ideal climate for occupants. The three-zone automatic system works well. Heated and ventilated front seats are quick to get to temp.

Safety

9

 

The 2021 Pacifica hasn't been fully crash tested by the IIHS yet, but it should prove to be a very safe vehicle having attained solid scores the previous year. It's also very well equipped when it comes to safety features, including accident avoidance tech.

IIHS Rating: The Pacifica has been partially tested, attaining "good" scores in all crash tests.

NHTSA Rating: The federal government gave the 2021 Pacifica five stars in crash tests.

Standard Tech: Our tester came loaded with safety tech, including ParkSense Rear Park Assist w/ Stop, Adaptive Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go, Blind Spot & Rear Cross-Path Detection, Lane Departure Warning Plus, Pedestrian/Cyclist Emergency Braking, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Advanced Brake Assist, Rain-Sensitive Wipers, and the ParkView Rear Back-Up Camera.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

9.3

 

Even though the Pacifica Hybrid doesn't have second-row Stow 'n' Go folding seats, it's still got ample amounts of space for gear and luggage. The third row seats drop into the floor with just two easy strap handle pulls.

Storage Space: There are plenty of storage spaces throughout, including a sliding door armrest and a deep floor tray between the two front seats.

Cargo Room: The Pacifica has 32.3 cubes behind the third row (with a deep well that swallows gear), and 140.5 cubes with the seats folded flat. It's slightly bigger than the new Toyota Sienna and a tad smaller than the Honda Odyssey.

Fuel Economy

8.5

 

The Pacifica Hybrid's fuel efficiency jumps significantly over the gas version. We were able to get some impressive around-town mileage, and it should prove to be a great road-tripper. It's slightly less efficient than the Toyota Sienna that gets 35 mpg combined.

Observed: 26.7 mpg.

Distance Driven: 53 miles.

Audio

8

 

Our tester came with the stock audio system, which provided plenty of good sounds with no noticeable issues. It's not as good as the Pinnacle's 8-speaker Harman Kardon premium system, but no one will complain about the stock system's overall sound quality.



Final Thoughts

There are some small advantages the Pacifica Hybrid has over the gas version. It's better to drive (acceleration and handling, specifically), the efficiency is improved by 8 mpg in combined driving, and the overall driving range is significantly increased. The question is, do you want to pay nearly $5,000 more to get those advantages? Compared to the Sienna, you have to plug it in to charge it. But the loaded Pacifica Hybrid is nicer inside, has a better infotainment system, and has better materials quality. We'd easily take it over the gas version of the Pacifica, but it's a toss-up between it and the Sienna.
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