All Encompassing

By Derek Price

You could buy six different cars to do what this vehicle does.

It’s an electric car that runs on battery power, a gasoline car for road trips, an all-wheel-drive SUV for icy roads, a commercial van for hauling bulky cargo, a family car for carrying kids, plus a luxury car with cooled leather seats and a cabin packed with gadgets.

Or you could one machine that does it all: the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle.

Its name is a mouthful, but it translates into a vehicle that plays more roles than a community theater troupe.

The base Pacifica is a fantastic starting point for people who want a practical, quiet, smooth-riding van. The Hybrid version makes it dramatically more fuel efficient, including a battery driving range of more than 30 miles.

That’s enough to use it like a Tesla, without burning a drop of gasoline, for the vast majority of American families in everyday driving. When you need to go on a road trip, though, you don’t have to worry about finding a charging station because the Pacifica Hybrid still has a gasoline engine under the hood.

The Chrysler Pacifica is available as a plug-in hybrid with an electric range of more than 30 miles, plus a gasoline engine for longer trips.

That means it uses a best-of-both-worlds approach that I wish more car companies would copy. Until this country installs more charging stations for battery-powered EVs, plug-in hybrids that also burn gas can let drivers enjoy the benefits of EVs without any road-trip drawbacks.

My tester also came with the Pinnacle trim level, a fitting name for the most sumptuous minivan on sale today. Its cabin comes with quilted Nappa leather seats, a suede headliner, berber carpeting and custom pillows that make the back seats look extra fancy.

This loaded-up, eco-friendly Pacifica does so many things well that it makes me wonder why I don’t see minivans clogging up U.S. freeways. Instead, our roads are stuffed full of SUVs and crossovers, which makes no logical sense whatsoever.

Unless you’re towing a heavy trailer or driving on trails, vans are better than SUVs in every measurable way.

Compared to the average SUV — or, heck, even pricey luxury SUVs — the Pacifica has a smoother ride, quieter cabin, burns less gas, carries bigger cargo, has roomier seating and is priced cheaper than anything of a similar size.

Still, a lot of people won’t consider a van for one simple reason: fashion.

While I think the Pacifica is as pretty as minivans come, it’s still a form-follows-function van at its core. It can’t hide that fact, nor should it.

Personally, I like that honesty. “I’m big. I’m square. I have sliding doors,” is more appealing than “I’m a wimpy car that’s pretending to be a truck.” Most modern buyers opt for the latter when they choose a crossover vehicle, picking style over substance.

The range-topping Pinnacle trim includes Nappa leather seating and a suede headliner.

There is one criticism of the Pacifica that has to do with substance, though: you can’t get one of its best features, Stow ’N Go seats, on the hybrid or Pinnacle versions.

The regular gasoline Pacifica can come with magical Stow ’N Go second-row seats that fold down into hidden wells in the floor, but the hybrid version ditches them for battery space. The Pinnacle swaps them for wider, more comfy captain’s chairs in the second row.

Fortunately, the third-row seat folds flat with a quick, simple motion. You also can remove the second-row seats when you need to haul huge cargo.

As a whole, I’m enamored with everything about the Pacifica. It does so many things so flawlessly that it makes me wish buyers would get over their style hangups and drive more vans like this. The world would be a greener, happier, more comfortable place.

Pricing starts at $37,095 for the Pacifica or $48,478 for the hybrid version. The luxurious Pinnacle starts at $54,167 for the gasoline model and closer to $60,000 for the plug-in Hybrid version.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle ($58,050). Options: Premium paint ($495), manual folding mirror credit (-$73). Price as tested (including $1,595 destination charge): $60,067
Wheelbase: 121.6 in.
Length: 204.3 in.
Width: 79.6 in.
Height: 69.9 in.
Powertrain: 3.6-liter V6, 16-kWh battery pack and dual electric motors (combined 260 hp)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 82 MPG equivalent

Style: 9
Performance: 6
Price: 9
Handling: 7
Ride: 6
Comfort: 8
Quality: 8
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
It’s a phenomenally comfortable and efficient way to move people and things.


Posted in Chrysler