Chrysler may be perceptibly late to the plug-in hybrid party, but today it came bearing gifts that advocates have hoped to see for some time – a PHEV minivan it’s calling the Pacifica.
Chrysler is credited with inventing the minivan segment over 30 years ago, and as it seeks to improve fleet mpg scores and add zest to its brand image, alongside a revised conventionally powered version, the plug-in hybrid is promised in the second half of this year.
Distinguishing the plug-in Pacifica is a 16-kwh battery under the second-row floor that can be recharged in as little as two hours with 240-volt current. This is mated to a unique powertrain centered around 3.6-liter Atkinson Cycle Pentastar V6.
City all-electric efficiency is estimated at 80 MPGe, but combined gas-plus-electric or hybrid-mode-only mpg is not known for the 248-horsepower family hauler.
New is a proprietary electrically variable transmission (EVT) using two electric motors which can both drive the front wheels.
The Pacifica Hybrid deviates from conventional electrification schemes by utilizing a one-way clutch allowing the motor that’s normally only used as a generator to send torque to the front wheels, depending on driving conditions.
Chrysler says the result is increased efficiency, refinement and improved component packaging.
MPG should be improved in any case as the Atkinson cycle engine gets features like “handed” pistons enabling increased 12.5:1 compression ratio for improved thermodynamic efficiency.
By eliminating the alternator and power steering pump, the engine’s front cover and accessory drive system were able to be re-worked.
Chrysler promises also reduced internal friction along with ignition and fuel injection improvements as also found on the upgraded Pentastar V6 while 2-step valve lift and cooled EGR have been removed with the addition of Atkinson cycle combustion system.
New Name, New Class of Vehicle
Pacifica was a name in the Chrysler lexicon from the 2000s but this minivan and its conventional counterpart have been re-named and gone is the Town & Country logo.
More importantly, this is the first plug-in hybrid minivan and its 30-mile range, if it proves accurate, is excellent as PHEVs go.
The 16-kwh battery significantly eclipses the 9.8-kwh unit in the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid which with 27 miles range had been the second-highest EV range PHEV in the mainstream class behind the 53-mile 2016 Chevy Volt.
With this vehicle, Chrysler has also beaten other competitors which are 1) further advanced in hybridized offerings, and 2) thus far have been content to focus on compact and midsized cars, and not minivans.
Pricing is to be announced, and the hopes by families will likely be they don’t need the disposable funds to afford the seven-figure castle used in the photo gallery in order to also afford the Pacifica PHEV.