Chrysler has introduced the world’s first plug-in hybrid minivan and its $43,090 starting price including destination nets to $35,590 once a $7,500 federal tax credit is factored.
Two trims – the Premium and $46,090 Platinum – promise part-time all-electric operation of 30 miles from a 16-kWh battery stored under the middle row seats.
Officially the new family haulers’ name is “Pacifica Hybrid” – not plug-in hybrid which is what they really are – because Chrysler did not want to complicate things for the uninitiated among its buyer demographic. The operations of plugging in, and its relation to an all-electric vehicle were believed potentially intimidating to some, and the friendly old term “hybrid” has perceptibly better connotations from a marketing perspective.
As a word to any leery customers Chrysler may be concerned not to fluster, once the 30 more-or-less miles of EV driving run out, the vehicle has a gas engine ready to propel it for up to 530 total miles total range. And, although the vehicle is a “plug-in” type, it can operate as a regular hybrid even without plugging in, though that of course would defeat a big part of the point.
And importantly for those already in the know, the pricing for two relatively well-equipped Pacifica Hybrids means potentially greater attainability for families needing a capacious minivan – a type of vehicle originated by the automaker over 30 years ago.
So while this is Chrysler’s relatively late entry to the plug-in market, it comes bearing gifts that plug-in advocates have repeatedly asked other manufacturers for, but until now their requests have gone unmet.
What’s more, the 30-mile range beats upscale European luxury SUVs that might strain to do more than 14 miles on the U.S. EPA cycle, and even tops established plug-in hybrids closer to the mainstream price level.
Specifically, it beats the 21-22 mile Ford Fusion and C-Max Energis, 27-mile Hyundai Sonata PHEV and Kia Optima PHEV, 25-mile Toyota Prius Prime, and pending 25-29 mile estimated Ioniq PHEV.
The 53-mile electric range Chevy Volt remains unchallenged as the highest range full-range and power plug-in gas-electric car, but the Pacifica – built on a revised platform – otherwise does well on this critical point as it opens a new segment.
Based on the conventional non-hybrid Pacifica – which is the name that retired the former Town and Country – the Pacifica Hybrids are equipped at better and best levels akin to the Pacifica Touring L and Touring L Plus.
Baked in are hybrid-exclusive features such as a smartphone app relaying vehicle information like charge status and scheduling, and charging station locations. An “efficiency coach” helps fine tune more efficient driving.
The base Pacifica Hybrid Premium comes standard with perforated leather seats – heated in the first-row – remote start with cabin pre-conditioning, three-zone automatic temperature control, projector headlamps, fog lamps, chrome trim accents and power liftgate.
It also offers as standard the SafetyTec Group, which includes ParkSense rear park assist with stop, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection.
For an additional $3,000 above the Premium’s MSRP, the $44,995 (plus ($1,095 destination) Pacifica Hybrid Platinum adds Nappa leather seats – ventilated first-row – and heated two-tone steering wheel, 13-speaker Alpine premium sound system, 3-D navigation, handsfree sliding doors and liftgate and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
Also included is the brand’s Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment system and KeySense programmable key fob.
Both models compare otherwise to the gasoline Pacifica model upon which they are based. In common are offered tri-pane panoramic sunroof, 10-inch seatback touchscreens, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, 360-degree Surround View camera, ventilated seats, rotary e-shifter, capless fuel filler, handsfree sliding doors and liftgate.
Priced Within Reach
The absolute base-level non-hybrid Pacifica LX starts at $28,595 plus $995 destination, so the Pacifica Hybrids, while priced relatively in line with competitors, are a premium offering.
Other Pacificas do come closer in price however, including the Pacifica Touring-L, at $34,495, plus $995 destination, and Pacifica Touring-L Plus, at $37,895, plus $995 destination. The premo Pacifica Limited starts at $42,495, plus $995 destination – $400 more than the Pacifica Hybrid and $2,100 less than the Pacifica Hybrid Platinum.
With the $7,500 federal credit – and $1,500 in California or as the case may be with other state incentive programs – the Pacifica Hybrids actually come inline with the upper trim levels closest to their equipment level.
It would thus appear a closer look would be warranted, and meanwhile the advocates out there – you know who you are – may hope this move by Fiat-Chrysler might provoke other automakers to follow with larger plug-in vehicles of their own.