2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – Review 2020 – PCMag UK


Pity the poor minivan, butt of jokes and usurped by SUVs and crossovers as the most popular car for family conveyance. But while SUVs and crossovers offer a higher perch and more utility, they don’t have a minivan’s sliding side doors—or the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid’s ability to create a completely flat floor for extra cargo space. The PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) Pacifica also ups the ante in that it can be driven gas-free for around 30 miles, likely enough to get to and from multiple soccer practices in a day. And after taking one on a 500-mile-plus road trip, we discovered even more reasons to consider the Pacifica Hybrid over its gas-only competitors, as well as over crossovers and SUVS, earning it our Editors’ Choice award for minivans.

Pricing and Design

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid comes in three trim levels—Touring, Touring L, and Limited—with lots of variations via option packages. All come with a 3.6-liter, 260-horsepower V6 engine augmented by two electric motors for an estimated total of 198 horsepower. A nine-speed automatic transmission drives the front wheels (AWD isn’t available).

The Pacifica Hybrid’s 16-kWh battery pack is rated to deliver around 30 miles of electric-only driving. It can fully recharge in about two hours from a 240-volt power supply, or in 14 hours from a standard 110-volt outlet using a supplied cord, and the battery is incrementally charged through regenerative braking.

The Touring trim starts at $38,100 and comes standard with exterior features such as 17-inch polished-aluminum wheels wrapped with 235/65R17 all-season tires, automatic halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, powered and heated body-color side mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, keyless entry, and power-sliding side doors. Standard interior amenities include push-button ignition, three-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, an eight-way power driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, and a Stow ‘N Go third-row bench seat.

Standard tech includes a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, a six-speaker audio system with AM/FM HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio, an 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, voice recognition, 4G Wi-Fi, and USB ports for all three rows. But it comes with paltry standard driver assists: a rearview camera, rear parking sensors with auto braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

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Stepping up to the Touring L model will set you back $40,304 and adds a power liftgate, Stow ‘N Place roof racks, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a full-length floor console, perforated leather trim, heated front seats, and hill start assist.

The top-of-the-line Limited trim we tested has a base sticker price of $45,845 and adds memory settings for the front seats and side mirrors, an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror with integrated turn signals and reverse gear auto adjust, upgraded wheels, ventilated front seats, a 20-speaker/760-watt Harman Kardon sound system, and navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link. It also has a Uconnect Theater rear seat video system with dual 10-inch touch screens, built-in video games, a Blu-Ray player, two pairs of wireless headphones, a remote, HDMI and USB ports, and a 115-volt outlet.

Our test vehicle had the $795 S Appearance Package with 18-inch Black Noise painted wheels, black exterior badging and accents, a black Stow ‘N Place roof rack, body-color door handles and mirrors, and Napa leather buckets seats with S logos. The $995 Advanced Safety Tec adds front collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and assist, blind spot assist, automatic high beams, a surround-view camera, and automatic parallel and perpendicular parking. With an optional $1,895 Tri-Pane Panoramic sunroof and $1,495 destination charge, the final sticker came to $51,025.

Even with the goth-like S Appearance package, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV is still, well, a minivan, and no amount of bling will make you feel cool driving it. But we give it bonus points for the Stow ‘N Place roof rack, a concept copied from Subaru but vastly improved upon; it made carrying a pair of stand-up paddleboards a breeze.

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid cargo space

The interior of the Pacifica Hybrid stands out with tons of passenger room and cargo capacity, upscale design and materials, and copious cubbies, cupholders, and storage bins. One downside is it doesn’t offer Chrysler’s convenient Stow ‘N Go seats that allow for a completely flat floor after the front seats since the hybrid battery takes up the space where the middle seats normally drop into. But the alternative fixed captain’s chairs are more comfortable and can be completely removed. 

Interface and Connectivity

The Chrysler Uconnect infotainment system has been a favorite of ours for its easy and intuitive interface and hasn’t changed much in the past decade or so—because it hasn’t had to. The 8.4-inch touch screen has smaller icons than other automotive infotainment systems, but they can be rearranged, while favorite features can be added to a menu bar at the bottom for easy access. 

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid infotainment screen

The screen is also used to set up a charging schedule to take advantage of lower utility rates, check miles driven in electric and hybrid modes, and monitor power flow between the engine, motor, and battery. The 7-inch digital instrument cluster also shows important hybrid and EV details such as battery level and range in a clear and concise manner and includes an Efficiency Coach that indicates how accelerating and braking are affecting fuel economy.

The biggest change to the Uconnect system since we last tested the Pacifica PHEV in 2017 is that, as with most automakers, Chrysler has relinquished most cloud connectivity to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Gone is the Uconnect Access connectivity platform that included apps such as Pandora and iHeartRadio, which are now provided via your phone. 

While we found features of Uconnect Access such as voice-activated Yelp local search that’s tied to the navigation system helpful, it requires a subscription after the first year of ownership, whereas Android Auto and CarPlay are free and provide a familiar interface.

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Uconnect Access now supplies telematics features such as roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle notifications, as well as a smartphone app for remote engine starting, locking/unlocking the doors or flashing the headlights to find the vehicle, and PHEV-specific features such as battery level and range, charge level and status, and the location of public EV charging stations and their distance.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Apple CarPlay on infotainment screen

Performance

While no one buys a minivan for its performance, the Pacifica Hybrid’s two electric motors give it surprisingly quick acceleration. The addition of the hybrid battery and motors adds more than 650 pounds to the PHEV compared with the gas version, but only slightly affects handling since we’ve found both vehicles waddle around curves and feel boaty.

The main draw of the Pacifica Hybrid is its fuel efficiency and ability to run in electric-only mode. While the Pacifica Limited we tested has an EPA-estimated rating of 33 electric-only miles and 31mpg on gas, on our road trip we achieved only about 25 electric-only miles before the gas engine kicked in and only about 25mpg in highway fuel economy, although this largely was on a hilly highway.

The Pacifica Hybrid cost around $6,500 more than the gas-only model, although it also qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax incentive and several state incentives. When buying any hybrid, you should do the math to determine whether the fuel savings and tax incentives pencil out over the period of ownership.

Conclusions

Minivans might not be the sexiest cars on the road, but they offer plenty of utility you just can’t get anywhere else. If you want a hybrid minivan with superb fuel efficiency, space, and tech, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is your only choice—luckily, it’s a good one. With 30-plus miles of electric-only driving, a spacious and upscale cabin, and and intuitive infotainment system, the Pacifica Hybrid is well worth the price, as well as the winner of our Editors’ Choice award for minivans.



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