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Auto Review: 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid may not be glamorous, but it’s easy to love

The Chrysler Pacifica outsold every other minivan last year, a testament to the company’s skill at building and maintaining its lead in the market segment it created in 1983.

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The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid. (FCA US LLC)
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Given the choice, most of us would rather drive a posh SUV, a thrilling sports car or a fabulous convertible than a minivan. In a world of vehicles, the minivan is the one that remains in the garage on Saturday nights. And while glamour may not be its forte, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, like its conventionally powered counterparts, gets a mid-cycle facelift this year, and the results are pleasing.

Yet the company really didn’t have to bother. The Chrysler Pacifica outsold every other minivan last year, a testament to the company’s skill at building and maintaining its lead in the market segment it created in 1983.

Maybe that explains its bewildering 12 different trim levels for 2021, not counting the fleet-only model.

For Hybrid models, that includes the Pacifica Touring Hybrid, Touring L Hybrid, Limited Hybrid and Pinnacle Hybrid. Keep in mind that the least-expensive Pacifica, dubbed the Chrysler Voyager, starts at $27,235. The cheapest Pacifica named a Pacifica starts at $35,045 in Touring trim. The least expensive hybrid model, the Pacifica Touring Hybrid starts at $39,995, while the test vehicle, a Pacifica Limited Hybrid, starts at $45,845. That said, however, that the Pacifica Hybrid is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, something not true of its traditionally-powered siblings.

Like the standard minivan, the Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid uses the corporate 3.6-liter double-overhead cam V-6, albeit modified for hybrid duties, working in concert with two electric motors to deliver 260 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission developed by Chrysler. Only one of the two motors is a drive motor. The other charges the high-voltage battery and starts the gas engine. Electric power is supplied by a 16-kWh battery pack comprised of 96 lithium-ion cells housed in the underfloor bins where the second-row seats normally stow. It recharges in two hours on a 240-volt circuit or in about 14 hours using a 120-volt outlet. It supplies enough current to run 33 miles solely on electric power. Once that point is reached, the Pacifica acts like a conventional hybrid, with the electric motor working in tandem with the gas engine. The EPA says that you can save $800 annually in fuel costs compared to the standard Pacifica minivan.

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And what a treat this is to drive.

While you may feel good about being able to run your daily errands solely on electricity, you’ll particularly appreciate the Pacifica’s smooth, responsive driveline. The electric motors deliver an instant power surge ensuring that it never feels overburdened. Steering is light and lacks road feel, but it proves accurate. Body motions are well controlled, and the Hybrid system’s extra weight contributes to its planted confident feel when cornering. Body lean is modest. The ride is comfortable and fairly quiet. The nuance in its driveline makes it an easy vehicle to drive smoothly.

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.

When it comes to in-cabin tech, the Pacifica Hybrid gives you what you need, with its intuitive all-new Uconnect 5 system on a new 10.1-inch touchscreen. Cleanly designed, it lacks the cartoony graphics that afflict too many infotainment user interfaces. It’s intuitive, and easy-to-use. Amazon Alexa, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a home screen that can be personalized for six different users comes with it. Similarly, the Bluetooth system allows two phones to connect simultaneously, and there are up to 12 USB Type A and Type C ports. Parents will appreciate the new “FamCAM” interior camera that gives the driver a high-definition view of rear-facing child seats in the second row, and it can zoom in for a closer view.

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Beyond the technology, you’ll find the Pacifica’s cabin possesses more legroom than many full-size SUVs, and abundant overall cargo space, as much as 140.5 cubic feet behind the front row. That’s significantly more than a Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition. But the finishes on the interior are just as impressive, some of the best ever offered on a Chrysler minivan.
"We wanted to make sure that we created more than just a tool, we wanted to create something that was special, something that was unique,” said Chris Benjamin, the Pacifica's chief designer.

Certainly, Chrysler has. For those who haven’t tried a minivan in years, or even decades, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is worth a look. With its stylish looks, roomy cabin, fuel-efficient drivetrain and federal tax credits lowering its entry price, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a very tempting choice for those who need the ultimate super schlepper.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited S Appearance

  • Base price: $45,845
  • Powertrain: 3.6-liter Atkinson Cycle DOHC V6 and dual electric motors
  • Total system horsepower: 260
  • EPA fuel economy (combined): 82 MPGe (hybrid), 30 mpg (gas only)
  • Fuel required: 87 Octane
  • Length/Width/Height: 204.3/79.6/69.9 inches
  • Ground clearance: 5.1 inches
  • Payload: 1,290 pounds
  • Cargo capacity: 32.3-140.5 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: Not recommended
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