Wednesday, January 24, 2024



Chrysler came up with the concept of the minivan for family transportation — especially those families with three or more children — 40 years ago and I would argue that nobody has come up with anything better since.

SUV? Nope. SUVs with three row seating can accommodate seven or eight passengers but even many full-size models lack the rear cargo room to haul all the stuff that come with larger families.

Station wagon? Third-row seating (if even offered) infringes on cargo space.

Sedan? You’re kidding, right?

No, the often-scorned minivan still rules the road when it comes to a vehicle combining both passenger and cargo space in a practical format, and for that we have to thank Chrysler.

The company launched the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan as 1984 models, and though neither is around today their progeny survives. Dodge survives as a brand but Plymouth left the automotive scene about the same time the 21st Century arrived.

Carrying the torch now for Chrysler now is the Pacifica, which began life as sort of a combination SUV, wagon, and minivan in 2004. Now the Pacifica is unquestionably a minivan with sliding rear doors and three rows of seating. 

In addition to its longstanding status in the minivan segment, the Pacifica also is the first its class to offer a hybrid gas-electric drivetrain and still is the only plug-in minivan on the market.

The Toyota Sienna comes as a standard gas-electric hybrid configuration (HEV) but as a plug-in the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV offers the advantage — and safety — of a gas engine to take over when in the battery is down. The Chrysler Pacific Plug-in can go up to 33 miles on electric power only, giving it a rating of 82 MPGe rating. Using the gas engine it earns a rating of 30 miles-per-gallon combined city and highway.

This review is based on the 2023 Chrysler Pacific plug-in, but no major changes are in line for 2024. Chrysler did some tinkering with the trim lineup, replacing the Touring L and Limited trims with Select and Road Tripper models and Hybrid S and Hybrid S Premium packages added to the line.

The Pinnacle still sits at the top and served as my test Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in.

It is wonderfully equipped with such standard features as heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging pad, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a dual pane panoramic sunroof, built-in Amazaon Fire TV, a Harmon-Kardon premium sound system, an interior camera to keep track of what is going on in the seats behind you, second- and third-row window shades, and a suede headliner.

Standard exterior features include 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, hands-free sliding rear doors and lift gate, and LED headlights.

Safety features include front and rear parking assist system, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, full-speed frontal collision warning, pedestrian emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning.

The second-row features easy slide seats but the plug-in doesn’t get the stow-and-go feature so popular on gas-only models that allow the second and third row seats to be stowed under the floor. Nor is the plug-in available with all-wheel drive.

MSRP for the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Pinnacle starts at $60,345 and my test vehicle topped out at $62,435 when the charge for the , which is close to the fathom blue exterior paint and $1,595 for destination are added in. That’s just short of  the starting point of $62,820 for the 2024 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle.

What I liked about the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in:
The interior is spacious with upscale materials throughout. There is good room in the back for all the stuff a family might want to bring for a road trip. All-around visibility is good and the gas-electric drivetrain eliminates the range anxiety that comes with all-electric vehicles. Available all-wheel drive is nice, too. Getting in and out is a snap and the Pinnacle trim has loads of standard features. Front seats are heated and ventilated. The drive itself is quite capable, and it is easy to maneuver in parking lots. The power opening/closing of the side doors 

What I didn’t like about the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in: The hybrid drivetrain comes at a steep price. There’s a big jump in staring MSRP from the gas-only version to the hybrid version. Chrysler does not recommend towing with the Pacific Plug-in, and all-wheel drive is not offered.

Would I buy the Chryslter Pacifica Plug-in? Not at this stage of my life, but for family transportation, it can’t be beat. The Plug-in is expensive but offers a lot. Empty nesters still might want to consider it if the grandkids visit often.

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