LIDO’S KIDDO : It is hardly hyperbole that the front drive “K car” derived family Mini Van was the brainchild of legendary chairman Lee Iacocca, and that it turned around the fortunes of America’s then distant No. 3 carmaker. 1984’s Dodge Caravan / Plymouth Voyager models were runaway hits, as were subsequent lengthened “Grand” trims and a premium Chrysler Town and Country. Since eclipsed by the sport utility vehicle in the mid-2000s, the family Mini Van laid down the foundation for generations of active family lifestyle American motoring.
HAPPY THIRTY-FIFTH AND BEYOND : Under former FCA auspices the Plymouth brand was shuttered and Dodge restricted to performance cars and SUVs. Thirty five years since the first of its kind the 6th formulation of Pentastar family van fell solely to the Chrysler division. Just what new Stellantis ( Peugeot Citroen) ownership implies for Walter P. ‘s name plate is anyone’s guess. For active families in the know, a streamlined new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid perpetuates Lido’s foresight.
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WHAT: 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Hybrid hybrid gas electric 3 row family van. It currently is the only Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle family van sold in America. The architecture = FIAT Group developed Compact US Wide, shared with the Jeep Cherokee.
Standard Power: 2487 cc Atkinson cycle, dual VVT-i DOHC 24V start-stop idle I-4 cylinder gasoline engine: 220 hp/ 235 lb-ft; 260 BHP (190 kW) net hybrid , arranged parallel to
- 1 x 360V synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor, front wheels: 85 kW, coaxially mounted with
- 1 x 360V synchronous AC traction Hybrid Starter Generator: 63 kW
- Battery electric supply: LG Chem LiIon 96 cells, 360V, 68 Ah, 59 kW, 16 kWh storage
- Continuously Variable Transaxle, single planetary shaft, 4 pinion clutch + sun gear + ring gear differential
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: A tear drop shadow, which the 6th generation 2021 Pacifica Hybrid casts, is almost as revolutionary a design for family breadbox on wheels as its great, great, great, great, Grand Van’s was for its time. Irina Zavatski penned a new family van which breaks through air with a bullet-train nose ahead of cab, rather than traditional cab slightly over nose.
Chrome rung hexagonal dark lattice grille is flanked by wraparound composite lighting with LED halo outlines; Low cowl to sharp descending twin valley clamshell hood; Mid lower valance has dark lattice work for radiator airflow, while corner dark lattice corner housings are trimmed in chrome boomerang; “e” marked charging port door at aft front left fender.
Low beltline Coke bottle body features subtle crease at chrome door handle line and chrome banded rising lower side skirt crease; Half chrome capped side mirrors = door mounted; Seriously raked windscreen flows to rear sloping roofline; Sharp upper D pillar kink;
Body color matching roof spoiler; Liftgate bumps under backlight glass; Full sub backlight raceway light bar wraps into rear quarter panel, forming a lateral boomerang; License plate bowl is mid liftgate with an integrated handle below. Lower bumper cover features lateral chrome bar; blue leaf e-Hybrid emblem at tailgate lower right corner.
WHY: Plugging-in Lido’s great, great, great, great, recently streamlined, Family Van grand kiddo.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early Winter 2020
WHERE: Chrysler new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
WHERE TO: While non-hybrid Pacifica’s can be had with optional all-wheel drive, the Pacifica Hybrid cannot. Nonetheless, the car-like road clearance is best suited to the world of pavement.
HOW ROADWORTHY: The proven Pentastar twin-cam gasoline V-6 engine mated with the synchronous traction 85 kW Motor B and 63 kW Motor A, connect alternately or combined to a CVT planetary transaxle shaft for obstrusion free all-electric or hybrid-electric operation. Only the left instrument cluster gauge and the media display are clues to the real time power flow. Throttle response is direct, if not quite as stepped for modulation. The omission of dedicated battery EV and battery save modes are a head scratcher.
The high tensile steel and magnesium alloy rich Compact US Wide platform was originally developed for front-drive Alfa Romeo cars, so the ride brittleness that was dialed in for Pacifica Hybrid is a surprise. Slightly over-sprung for the extra battery mass as evidenced tamed body dive, damping rebounds on the harsh side. Rather low weighted steering reduces fatigue, but larger movements are required for reaction at speed. The calipers squeeze with lower immediacy on disc rotors at the corners, likely emphasized by the regenerative motor slowing.
HOW FAR: 29 combined miles per gallon observed; 528 miles range
- +1 Only plug in electric family van sold in U.S.
- +1 +32% vs. 2021 Chrysler Pacifica FWD (non-hybrid) combined fuel economy
- +1 EPA EV efficiency 82 MPG e
- +/- EV Range ≈ 33 miles up to 87 mph
- -1 -17% vs. 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid AWD combined fuel economy
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 7 Occupant seating = 2+2+3 owing to 2nd Row Captains’ chairs (standard on Hybrid); √ 50:50 split 3rd Row seating recedes into cargo bay floor.
- +1 Generous 3rd Row legroom
- -1 No 2nd Row bench available, manual levers to tilt & slide 2nd Row seating for 3rd Row access
- Wheelbase 121.6″ = 1.1″ > Toyota Sienna Hybrid AWD
- Row 2, Row 3 legroom = -0.4″, -2.2″ vs. Toyota Sienna Hybrid AWD
HOW USEFUL: √ Floating center console w/ sub storage ; √ Flat folding 2nd Row tilting seatbacks, latch releases; √ Flat folding 50/50% split 3rd Row tilting seats w/ twin release straps; √ Slide out aft front center console 2nd Row cupholder tray; √ Remote dual power sliding 2nd Row doors; √ Cupholders x 6; √ Door bottle holders x 3
- +1 Cargo volume = non-hybrid Pacifica; Deep center armrest w/ split roll-top; View over sloping hood;
- -1 Rear backlight & over shoulder blindspots; Distant reach to glove box; Manual lever or strap 2nd or 3rd row seatback tilt, slide or fold; No Stow N’ Go 2nd Row seat into floor folding (due to battery pack).
- Cargo Volume (nom., max.) = -4%, +40% < Toyota Sienna Hybrid AWD
- Tow rating: Not Recommended vs. 3500 lbs. = Toyota Sienna Hybrid AWD
HOW SAFE: √ 8 airbags; √ Good IIHS marks: 2020 MY Top Safety Pick; √ Rear camera; √ Pedestrian detection braking; √ Forward collision avoidance braking; √ Lane Departure Warning + Keep Assist; √ Full adaptive cruise control; √ Blind Spot Warning; √ Rear cross traffic alert; √ Park Sense w/ reverse full stop; √ Rain sensing windshield wipers; Automatic High Beam headlamps;
Limited Safety Sphere Pkg.: √ ParkSense Front Park Assist with Stop; √ ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist; √ 360° Surround View Camera; √ Fam Cam interior aft cabin camera
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Just below the Pinnacle, the 2021 Pacifica Limited Hybrid nonetheless execute a cabin, which, ignoring coarse grained sub-knee consoles and 3rd row & aft hard plastic walls, emits an aura of prestige. Warm saddle soft touch panels and steering wheel hides match the seating, instrumentation is comprehensive with equal traditional dials and modern TFT, switchgear nails usable oversized, if somewhat indistinguishable at the center stack. Apertures power smoothly though seams could be more even, and a more customizable Android Oreo derived UConnect 5.0 infotainment debuts with 5 times more processor power.
♦ Leather seating – heated Rows 1 + 2, cooled Row 1; ♦ Wide cushion front bucket seats; ♦ 10-way power front seats, w/ 3-setting driver memory; ♦ Heated leather steering wheel with spoke integrated tactile redundant controls + dorsal audio selection & volume toggles; ♦ Automatic 3-zone climate control; ♦ 2nd Row, right-side ceiling climate fan and seat heating controls; ♦ Canted floating center stack ribbed rotary metallic transmission knob, drive assist, climate switches & dual audio knobs; ♦ Overhead console retracting sunglasses bin & cabin convex mirror; ♦ Power folding side mirrors; ♦ Row 2 & 3 manual window sunshades; ♦ Dual moonroofs
- +1 Wide center armrest; Generous steering wheel reach adjustment;
- -1 Minimal seat torso support, flat cushions; Himalayan liftgate lift-height
Cool Gizmo(s): √ 7.0″ inch variable TFT color gauge cluster MFD horsepower, flanked by power status and fuel dials; √ Foot well, center console & door panel ambient lighting
Details Done Right: √ Saddle tan leatherette tandem contrast stitched tucked seam dash top & upper door panels; √ Saddle tan Nappa leather seating + contrast stitched tucked seams; √ High gloss 10.1″ media display; √ Tight dark webbing pillars and headliner;
HOW CONNECTED: √ Uconnect 5.0 center dash embedded 10.1″-inch tri-pane landscape capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen; √ Bluetooth & voice command hands-free communications; √ GPS HDD Navigation w/ 3-D map, voice guidance; √ Voice to text SMS messaging; √ USB-A x 5, USB-C x 3; 12V x 2 (includes cargo), 115V AC x 1 (2nd Row, right side wall)
+1 Higher definition Uconnect 5.0 media display graphics, customizable widgets; Sliding covered forward center console wireless device storage w/ Qi inductive device charging tray
♦ Uconnect Theater with wireless streaming; ♦ 10.1-in. 2nd Row seatback touchscreens; ♦ 13 x children & adult games; ♦ Wireless headphones x 2; ♦ Video remote controls; ♦ HDMI inputs x 2, ♦ Blu-ray/DVD player
HOW “APP” -LICABLE:
√ Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone projection; √ 20-speaker, 825 watt Harman Kardon audio booms the bass; √ UConnect 5.0 6 GB RAM, 64 GB HD storage, Apps and App Store + over the air updates
- +1 Extensive Uconnect voice commands for climate, audio, voice to text SMS and navigation inputs
By Subscription: √ Sirius XM Traffic, Metro Weather radio & TravelLink apps (5 yrs. included); √ Wi-Fi hot spot (by Verizon Wireless)
HOW MUCH: $52,512 = 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Hybrid
WHAT’S MISSING: All-wheel drive; Less structure wiggle; A glare free instrument cluster, Stow ‘N Go from the non-hybrid Pacifica; Faster on board charger.
ANY COMPETITION: Honda Odyssey: +1 smooth all gas powerplant; responsive transmission; Kia Carnival: +1 Luxurious finish; Toyota Sienna Hybrid: +1 sublime ride, better hybrid MPG
Contributing Editor: S. Frissell