Minivans are much better than SUVs when it comes to hauling people and cargo. We wish more people would know the fact that minivans are a better fit for their lifestyles unless you need the extra ground clearance. Despite being wildly overshadowed by SUVs, minivans are much better in terms of accomplishing their missions for families and businesses, but it is hard to talk about minivans, without mentioning the Chrysler Pacifica.
In the 1970s, Chrysler invented the minivan segment by creating a development program to design a small affordable van that drove and handled more like an automobile. The brand has always been innovative when it comes to minivans. The original minivan format is still very popular today. Most of them have a horizontally placed naturally aspirated V6 engine, front-wheel drive, 7 or 8-seater layout, long wheelbase, and sliding rear doors. The 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid stands out not only being the most refined entry, but it is still the only option if you are looking for a plug-in hybrid minivan.
Starting with the looks, the arrival of the Pacifica was a huge deal, especially for a brand that built the Grand Caravan and Town & Country for over a decade with minor updates. Most minivans have come a long way, and as they get more features, more comfort, and more refinement, so the Pacifica has to be the premium alternative, including the looks. The front fascia is updated in 2020, giving the Pacifica a much more modern and upscale look.
The updates from the side profile and rear end are quite minimal, and to be honest, the Pacifica didn’t need a drastic change. I personally think it is one of the better-looking minivans despite the age of the platform. The attention to detail is impressive, including the rear sliding door rails integrated into the rear quarter panel glass, which is more of a sleek design choice instead of placing it into the rear quarter panel. The optional S appearance package gives it a sportier look with blacked-out wheels, badges, a front grille, and window trims.
The Hybrid model looks almost identical to the non-hybrid version, except for the charging port in the front quarter panel. Other than that, the only indicator is the e-Hybrid badge located on the trunk. The taillights are the biggest change when Chrysler updated the Pacifica in 2020, now it is a big one-piece design compared to the previous year’s 2-piece taillight design. Our tester’s red color is called Velvet Red Pearl, which sets you back $395.
The interior design is where the Pacifica really stands out. It is such a drastic change compared to the outgoing Grand Caravan and Town & Country platform. The dashboard and center console have an elegant and stylish appearance. Although it is not the newest platform in the minivan segment, and there are some parts carried over from other Dodge and Chrysler products, the fit and finish are impressive, especially on the upper side of the dashboard.
There are physical buttons for all essential features, and the center console is integrated into the dashboard, which gives it more of an SUV-like look and driving position. The steering wheel has lots of buttons and it looks confusing at first glance. The Pacifica Hybrid comes with a half-digital, half-analog instrument cluster, and the digital screen shows a lot of information, and you can customize it the way you like.
However, if you want maximum storage space, lower trims come with a traditional center console where you have tons of space to put bigger items in between the center console and dashboard. The rotary shifter is located in the center, pretty close to the steering wheel and all other controls. That’s how you have the most amount of storage space in the center console. The only gripe I had was the excessive amount of glossy black plastics used in the center stack.
The 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid comes with the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system and an updated 10.1″ touchscreen. The clarity, resolution, color rendering, responsiveness, and overall ease of use should easily put the Japanese entries to shame. It comes with neat features like wireless smartphone integration, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an interior camera, and a microphone. The rearview camera resolution is a little bit low especially after seeing how good the screen resolution actually is, but it comes with 360 view camera, which is a crucial feature for all minivans.
As expected from a minivan, you have tons of space for the rear seat passengers. The seats are firmly padded but they are quite adjustable. Even after a long drive, there was no fatigue. The Hybrid model does not have the Stow and Go feature for the second-row seats, just because the battery pack takes up all the storage space. You can still remove the second-row seats if needed, it is just not as convenient as being able to hide them under the floor.
For some people, it is a huge trade-off as it is the most important feature that makes the Dodge and Chrysler minivans appealing to potential buyers for several years. It limits the flexibility to carry larger cargo. On the positive side, the second-row captain’s chair seats offer more padding, therefore they are much more comfortable in the Hybrid model. I wish there was an 8-seat option available here in Canada for the Hybrid models. The entertainment screens can be a lifesaver for parents, but new to 2022, it gets the Amazon Fire TV built into the Uconnect software.
The third row is where you feel the biggest difference compared to any other 3-row SUV or Crossover. Getting in and out is much easier, it has a lower floor, and most importantly, you have much more headroom and legroom. It also comes with several cupholders and USB chargers for third-row passengers. It stands out when it comes to overall headroom for the third-row passengers, as it does not have a curved roofline like some other entries in this segment.
Overall trunk space is just another area where any 3-row SUV just can’t compete with minivans. The Pacifica Hybrid offers 32 cubic feet (905L) of cargo space behind the third row and 87.5 cubic feet (2478L) behind the second row. It is not class-leading when it comes to the overall cargo space, but it offers a pretty square cargo and ceiling area, especially behind the third-row seat, the hinges are fully hidden which gives a more usable area.
Although it is a plug-in hybrid, Chrysler marketed the Pacifica as just “Hybrid” to keep things simple. It still doesn’t change the fact that it is the only option if you are strictly looking for a plug-in minivan as of 2022. It might not be the only hybrid model, as we also have Toyota Sienna available. However, Chrysler gives you more options to choose the right version for your lifestyle and budget, unlike the Sienna where you have to get the inline-4 and hybrid engine layout no matter which trim you choose.
One of the biggest benefits of having a plug-in hybrid versus a regular hybrid is that it can run only on electric power even at highway speeds. The only thing I will bring up as a negative is that I wish there was a way to choose if you want to stay strictly in EV mode, Hybrid mode, or gas-only mode to save the battery, especially on a highway. It’ll automatically keep the car in EV mode unless you accelerate hard, or run out of battery.
Regardless of your choice, Chrysler offers a naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 engine under the hood, which not only sounds much better than Sienna’s inline-4 engine but also has so much more usable torque. The Hybrid version offers less combined maximum horsepower (260 hp) than the gas-only Pacifica (287 hp) as it is tuned for fuel economy. It is not the quickest minivan we have tested, but the electric motors provide more torque instantly, making it feel more alive than any other naturally aspirated V6 engine available.
The hybrid engine is mated with two electric motors located inside the transmission housing and it is sending power to the front wheels only. The lithium-ion 96-cell 16 kWh battery pack is located under the floor, which gives about 50 kilometers of total EV-only range. If you run out of the battery, the engine management system will switch it to normal hybrid mode, so it will still continue to save gas as much as possible. It takes about 2 hours with a Level 2 charger, and 10 hours with a regular 110v power outlet to fully charge the Pacifica Hybrid.
Driving the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a completely different experience if you are coming from an older FCA minivan platform. The Pacifica feels much more solid and quieter, mainly due to the use of carpeted underbody coverings and the electric motor. It also comes with aluminum suspension components in the front for extra refinement. The visibility is excellent even for short adults, finding the right driving position is much easier as you get no sense of claustrophobia, and you don’t have to overly rely on electronics.
When it comes to suspension tuning, it is unexpectedly compliant, offering the right amount of firmness and comfort you would expect from a family hauler. Though it does not offer the softest ride, because it has to keep up with the excessive weight of the plug-in hybrid system. As the battery is located under the floor, it has a lower center of gravity, therefore it has surprisingly good handling characteristics for what it is.
After driving all modern minivans in the last few years, the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is -so far- my favorite one as it is the most well-rounded option. If you are driving locally, short commuting, picking up kids from school, grocery shopping, or just running errands, you can be in the EV mode for the whole time. You also don’t have to deal with range anxiety like many fully electric vehicle owners, as the gas-powered V6 engine can take you anywhere, and that is the most compelling part about the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
|Engine||3.6L Pentastar V6|
|Transmission & Drivetrain||eFlite Electrically Variable Transmission & Front-Wheel-Drive|
|Max power||260 hp|
|Max torque||236 lb-ft|
|0-100 km/h||7.4 sec|
|Curb Weight||5010 lbs – 2273 kg|
|Fuel Economy (Combined)||82 MPGe – 2.87 l/100 km|
|Starting at (MSRP)||$54,060 CAD|