Road Test: 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The words luxurious and minivan don’t normally go hand in hand, but you will excuse me if I use these words to describe the refreshed 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle I recently tested.

With a new look exterior, an improved infotainment system and new driver aids, the automaker has hit the right note in this refresh for the family hauler.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The Canadian-built Pacifica is offered as a gasoline-only model or the plug-in hybrid variant we tested. The hybrid has four trims, starting with Touring L and capped off by the top-of-the-line Pinnacle.

While the price tag might seem daunting, depending on where you live in Canada, the Pacifica Hybrid Pinnacle is eligible for rebates from various levels of government. That helps reduce the dent in your wallet with the as-tested price listed at $62,190.

Powertrain: As a plug-in hybrid, the Pacifica has two separate but seamlessly interchangeable powertrain systems: A 3.6-litre V6 engine that is augmented by a pair of electric motors.

The systems produce a combined 260 horsepower, but more important is the instant torque from the electric motors that allows this minivan to accelerate quickly, making it feel nice and peppy.

The Pacifica comes with an eFlite Electrically Variable Transmission.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

It can travel up to 51 kilometres in all-electric mode, which was generally sufficient for the usual daily commutes for me such as going to the office (who does that anymore?) or going to and from baseball games for my son.

Once you have used up the electricity in the 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, the PHEV still has an estimated range of roughly 800 kilometres, which is downright impressive.

The battery can be charged using a regular household outlet, but it will take an overnight charge to get to full capacity, while a Level 2 charger can do the job in 2 hours, the automaker says.

And on top of the basic three-year warranty on the Pacifica, the battery is covered by a 10-year/160,000-kilometre guarantee.

Of note, anyone hoping to do some towing with the Pacifica should know it is not recommended for hybrid vehicles. The gasoline-only Pacifica can haul up to 3,600 pounds and also offers all-wheel drive capability, something the hybrid does not.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Exterior: The Pacifica has been probably the best-looking minivan in the segment since it was introduced and the upgrades for 2021 ensure it continue to garner attention for its styling.

The changes include a new front fascia and grille, redesigned LED headlamps and fog lights, as well as LED rear taillights.

On the Pinnacle model, it comes with 18-inch Polished aluminum wheels with Baltic Grey pockets that matched quite nicely with the Ceramic Grey exterior.

The Pacifica has a streamlined silhouette thanks to a long hood and raked windshield, and accent lines that make it appear longer than it is.
The rear also gets a new look that includes a full-width taillight that stretches from edge to edge of the hatch.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Interior: In the cabin of the Pinnacle, you are immediately struck by the Nappa Caramel leather seating that definitely brightens up the cabin and quilting on the seats adds a touch of luxury. Heck it even includes two throw pillows for rear passengers.

And the front seats are heated and ventilated, a feature I truly appreciated with temperatures in the high 30s during a summer heatwave.

The Pacifica can fit up to seven passengers, with two Captains Chairs in the middle row and a third-row Stow ‘n Go system for the 60/40 split-folding bench. When not needed, they easily drop down and give you a large, flat cargo area. When in use, there’s a deep well for cargo like sports gear, groceries, etc.

Being low to the ground, getting in and out of the Pacifica is a breeze, and accessing the back row is quite manageable thanks to the middle seat sliding forward.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

One feature I came to appreciate was the FamCam, which has cameras embedded in the ceiling, which is covered in a suede headliner in the Pinnacle trim, that allows you to keep an eye on your passengers from the infotainment screen. Neat feature.

The layout of all the controls is also well done, except the rotary dial for the transmission is pretty close to the volume knob, so that placement is less than ideal in my view.

Infotainment: The best part of the Pacifica’s infotainment setup has to be the second-row entertainment system that allows the two occupants to not only watch programs, but also go head-to-head in interactive games such as Tic Tac Toe, Checkers and more. Definitely a huge hit with my son and some of his baseball teammates after one of their games, and a surefire way to keep the kids entertained on long trips.

Up front, the brain of the operation is a 10.1-inch touchscreen powered by the Uconnect 5 NAV system, which is very good and is compatible wirelessly with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The Uconnect 5 system has Amazon Alexa built into it, which allows occupants to use voice commands for a variety of functions, like you would with your Alexa at home.

The tester came with a sweet-sounding Harman Kardon system with 20 (!) speakers, a subwoofer and 760-watt amplifier.

Drive: My time behind the wheel of the Pacifica Hybrid was nothing short of excellent. I was able to spend a lot of time on battery power alone with mostly shorter trips, but on longer journeys, the switch to the gasoline engine wasn’t even noticed and did nothing to diminish the drive feel.

It delivers a smooth ride experience, which is what I would expect for a vehicle that will be used for lots of family trips. The cabin is also whisper quiet in terms of outside noise intrusion, another huge plus.

There were some interior rattles over rougher roads and given that this was a new vehicle, I do have to wonder how much worse that would get with age.

Conclusion: Minivans are most certainly not on everyone’s must-have list (mine included), but the Pacifica Hybrid makes a pretty strong case to get anyone with a need for this much space to consider it.

There’s no arguing that it looks great, the PHEV system is excellent, and the passenger area is worthy of a luxury vehicle.

The fact you can get into one and benefit from some significant rebates from the government (for the time being) is another thing the Pacifica has going for it.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Price as tested: $62,190.00
Freight: $1,895.00
Configuration: Front engine/Front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.6-litre V6 hybrid/ eFlite Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT)
Power/torque: 260 horsepower/ 235 ft-lb of torque (from gas engine)
Fuel (capacity): Regular (62.5 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.0 L/100 km / 2.9 Le/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 4.4 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Kia Carnival, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey

Links: Chrysler Canada

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