Pacifica Hybrid

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2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Overview

It’s a major makeover year for the Pacifica, with a new grille, new lights, and the return of all-wheel drive (AWD) after almost two decades. Sadly, the Hybrid trim doesn’t get to taste the cool waters of AWD like the rest of its brethren, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t special. Until the 2021 Toyota Sienna arrives, it’s still the only hybrid (plug-in or otherwise) minivan on the market, and that alone is enough reason to celebrate. The fact that the rest of it is so damned good only highlights the point.

Perhaps equally newsworthy to the AWD announcement, the Pacifica is the first FCA vehicle to be fitted with the newest version of Uconnect—Fiat-Chrysler’s proprietary infotainment system. This new Android-based system is supposed to be more intuitive, faster, and more capable, allowing over-the-air updates for firmware and maps, as well as allowing two wireless phone connections at once, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integrating wirelessly. It all takes place on a 10.1-inch HD touchscreen, and it looks beautiful.

For 2021, Chrysler is treating the Hybrid as a powertrain option rather than a separate trim. This means the four trim levels are now shared between gasoline and hybrid powertrains, and except for the lack of an AWD option with the Hybrid, trims should more closely match one another regardless of how you choose to power your Pacifica. This means that the Pacifica Hybrid does get to enjoy the new, top-tier “Pinnacle” trim that debuts in 2021. As one might conjecture from the name, the Pinnacle offers a level of added luxury that includes quilted leather and Mid-century modern-inspired wood trim inside. More visibly, the Pinnacle shows off the new “Ultra” center console, which is supposed to have a more integrated design and 30% more storage.

And storage is something the Pacifica has always excelled at. Since the introduction of Stow’n Go seats, the Pacifica has been synonymous with innovative storage, but that’s another drawback of the Hybrid, as the batteries underneath the floor prevent their implementation. It was the same issue the engineers faced with AWD up until this year, when they figured out a creative solution that allowed both features to live side by side, so perhaps we will see an AWD Hybrid in the future?

Until then, we’re stuck with front-wheel drive (FWD) for our plug-in minivan. Starting with the base Touring trim, you’ll get a 3.6-liter V6 paired with two electric motors for a total of 260 horsepower. With a 16-kWh battery pack, the Pacifica Hybrid can provide more than 30 miles of all-electric operation, and can be recharged in around 2 hours from a 240V outlet. That makes the Pacifica Hybrid a commute and errand machine—and one you might never have to gas up again, as long as you’re staying around town. But if you do venture beyond those 30 miles, a 9-speed automatic will make sure to stretch your fuel-efficiency dollar as far as it will go. Expect around 30 mpg in combined driving, which is a significant improvement over the standard gasoline Pacifica.

Even the base trim is well equipped with surprising standard features like keyless entry and ignition, three-zone climate control, heated mirrors, and power-sliding doors. The new Uconnect system is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and standard safety features include rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a reversing camera.

A power liftgate marks a major upgrade with the Touring L, but don’t ignore the heated front seats and leather. The Limited was the big boy before the Pinnacle arrived, and appropriately, it is loaded with features like hands-free liftgate and doors, ventilation for the front seats, a 20-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, and a backseat entertainment system. My one issue here is that to fully round out the safety suite, you have to start at the Limited trim, which is where you’ll find popular features like lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and a 360-degree parking camera, not to mention more esoteric features like a self-parking system.

Having to go for the second most expensive trim just to make sure you're getting the most safety for your family isn't ideal, but with that one caveat, the Pacifica Hybrid is a unique and impressive option in the minivan market. If running your daily errands and never having to visit the pump sounds appealing, it's something you need to check out.


A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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