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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the best family car on the market

Robert Duffer, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

Drop one kid at one school, then drop another kid at other school. Go to work meeting. Stop for coffee. Hit the store. Go home. Leave home. Finish the errands. Pick up one kid, drop off at practice. Pick up other kid, take to friend's house. Forget something; go get it. Pick up one kid; pick up the other kid. Forget dinner; go out to eat.

Total mileage: 20 miles.

Total time in car: living the dream.

This day in the life of a parent like me in a family car like the Chrysler Pacifica minivan could have one less to-do: the twice-a-week stop at the gas station.

One less to-do is no small ado, and this is the promise of the plug-in hybrid family vehicle: to make life easier, better.

The plug-in variant of the Pacifica, last year's winning successor to the Town and Country, means that most driving can be sourced from a plug in the garage. And when the family needs to ship the eldest kid to college, or road trip to that state-wide performance, or simply visit the far-flung family, the adapted 3.6-liter V-6 engine provides plenty of power as it normally would to travel up to 566 miles.

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The only compromise with the PHEV is there are no available second-row stow-and-go seats because the 16-kWh battery pack is in the floor.

The only criticism is the gear dial is too close to the other dials on the center console.

Around town, the Pacifica gets 33 miles of all-electric range in the quietest ride ever to be had in the minivan. This too is no small thing. The transition to engine power, under heavy throttle when fleeing the strictures of the subdivision, say, or cruising on the highway is hardly noticeable. The energy display on the wide and clear touch screen is the only clear giveaway, and that display also shows energy captured from regenerative braking and energy used from the climate system to better predict how much electric power will be used on a certain trip.

On one commute, starting with 33 miles of electric range, we covered 15 miles on the highway and 10 on the main streets with all the cozy heated elements. The Pacifica PHEV returned 58.6 mpg, and the gas engine was only used on 1.5 miles.

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