2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Is By Far America’s Most Fuel-Efficient Minivan

Minivans available today compete within a design formula that sees them all within a couple mpg of each other in the low 20s, and then you have the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid in a class by itself.

Release by the federal government of its 32 mpg rating in hybrid mode and 33 miles gas-free electric range puts the seven-passenger family hauler ahead of even small-engined, midsized sedans and utterly dominates minivans by every other automaker.

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Announces 2017 Pacifica Hybrid Fuel Economy, Range Ratings

On Nov. 30, Chrysler issued a press release boasting some of the numbers, but it held back the 32 mpg rating in hybrid mode, and really, it was being too modest.

Source: fueleconomy.gov. Click image to enlarge.

Which would you rather do — save $2,000 in fuel costs over 5 years, or spend $1,000-$1,500 over 5 year’s average fuel costs? Source: fueleconomy.gov. Click image to enlarge.

This is bragging rights in a class of vehicle that realistically may get mpg no better than pickup trucks.

To alternative energy enthusiasts, it is sad old news that carmakers selling in the U.S. have sidestepped large-class vehicles for hybridization, or full plug-in electrifiation.

There’s also a need for pickups and SUVs to be hybridized or plug-in electrified, but wheels turn slowly for carmakers who instead focus on putting a fine hone on already efficient eco cars.

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Making a small, efficient car even more efficient actually stands to save less fuel than making a relative gas hog incrementally more efficient, yet automakers until now have resisted this sore spot.

Chrysler’s Pacifica Hybrid is actually a plug-in hybrid. Owners will be able to plug in its 16 kWh battery for 33 miles all-electric range. If they chose not to, forgot to, or the battery simply runs out, the vehicle will still run as a gas-electric hybrid – America’s only one.

The numbers Chrysler did announce are the 33 miles range – also impressive, and more than any other plug-in hybrid car except the Chevy Volt and BMW i3 REx – and “84 MPGe.”

That 84 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) measuring efficiency when running just on battery power is good, but the 32 mpg combined is great also. That’s what it gets when the battery runs out and the vehicle morphs to a conventional hybrid for up to 570 miles total range.

This 32 mpg is a whole 10 mpg jump above the next-nearest competitors, including the non-hybrid Pacifica, and a couple others.

The irony of all this is also notable. Fleetwide, Chrysler is actually last place in the fuel efficiency rankings, yet it was the one that broke ground in a vehicle segment for which other carmakers were content to turn a blind eye.

The class leader of hybrids, Toyota, which owns 70 percent of the U.S. hybrid market share, has reserved for years 7/8th sized hybrid minivans in its home market that could get over 30 mpg also, but the U.S gets the 22 mpg Sienna.

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Plug-in fans are now hoping this sharp-looking new minivan will be well received. Factoring a $7,500 tax credit, it is priced competitively with upper trim levels in the conventionally powered Pacifica family line, and is likely the greenest large plug-in hybrid going.

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Starts At $35,590 After Federal Tax Credit

Its 33 miles EV range, by the way, means well more than half of all drivers can drive their average daily routes without even using any gas. The 32 mpg meanwhile means the vehicle makes sense once the battery runs out.

Just that 32 mpg would have been a nice improvement all by itself, but combined with the EV mode, this vehicle has set a new benchmark.

Will others now follow?


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