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Larry Printz: Chrysler makes the mobile family room fuel efficient

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

The Pacifica Hybrid starts at $39,995, a $13,000 premium from the conventional Pacifica's $26,995 entry-level price. Considering the difference in fuel economy, it would take a little more than 16 years to break even. But this isn't really a fair comparison since the Hybrid Limited being tested started at $44,995. That's $1,300 more than the Pacifica Limited, the top-of-line gas model that starts at $43,695. So breaking even takes little more than one and-a-half years.

Economics aside, there are some compromises that you'll have to live with. For starters, the Hybrid is only offered as a seven passenger vehicle, and the individual second row seats do not fold into the floor. Instead, you have to remove them for maximum storage capacity, however, cargo space is identical to that of the conventional Pacifica. And while the standard Pacifica can tow 3,600 pounds, it's not recommend with the Hybrid. Finally, the Hybrid weighs 657 pounds more than the standard Pacifica, while having 27 less horsepower.

But the added weight doesn't seem to affect performance. The driveline is smooth and responsive, with the Hybrid driveline acting as the obedient servant, always ready, never overtaxed. The steering is light and lacking in feel, but accurate. Body lean is moderate, and body motions are well controlled, furnishing a compliant, comfortable ride. The only complaint is brake pedal travel, lacks a smooth progressive feel, making smooth braking difficult.

Fuel economy came in at 28 mpg, a bit lower than the estimate thanks to a heavy throttle foot.

Driver assistance gear includes standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, and optional forward collision warning, lane departure warning, parking assist, and a surround view camera. Although NHTSA hasn't crash tested the Pacifica Hybrid, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates it a Top Safety Pick Plus, it's top ranking.

Front seats proved roomy, comfortable and could be heated and cooled. Second row seats provided adequate legroom and slide for and aft fro cargo/people carrying flexibility. However, seating was low making them ideal for children but less so for adults, although headroom was impressive. And, given the lack of children during the test drive, the cabin proved to be quiet.

 

While front seat occupants get an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, other passengers get an optional two high-definition 10-inch touchscreens where they can watch movies, play built-in games and connect personal devices to surf the Internet.

In many ways, the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a mobile great room, a thoroughly comfortable, quiet, and now fuel efficient ride that's remarkably unremarkable. It's the perfect salve for an overwhelmed parent. The only way it could be better was if it could drive itself.

Hello, Waymo?

STATS

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