Chrysler’s Pacifica Pinnacle –
THE HYBRID, TAKE TOO
Studio City, CA – Having originally scheduled a Pacifica Hybrid for early May, life intervened. Plan B was spending that week with a recently purchased Pacifica Hybrid sitting in the driveway of my daughter Lauren and her husband, Ethan. For them, that Pacifica effectively replaced both a Prius and 4Runner. Given that it’s a plug-in hybrid, it delivers 30 miles of emission-free motoring. And given that it’s a minivan, it delivers all of the utility of the 4Runner, in a far more refined – and efficient – package.
But that was their minivan, and I wanted/needed a week with my own. As dumb luck would have it, we’re moving into a Los Angeles-area apartment, and the fine folks at Chrysler PR had a Pacifica Hybrid available for review. To morph the formula ever so slightly, this is the Pacifica in Pinnacle trim, which combines all of the efficiency and utility already noted, along with as much luxury as you could reasonably expect in a $50K wrapper; somewhere, perhaps perched on rich Corinthian leather, Ricardo Montalban is smiling.
Of course, regardless of trim or power today’s Pacifica has a lot going for it. If you’re the all-season type, Chrysler offers an all-wheel drive variant – although not with the hybrid drivetrain. And for those wanting to get in on the ‘skinny’, consider Chrysler’s Voyager as your go-to value option. But for our daughter and son-in-law, as well as myself, the hybrid drivetrain – with 30 miles of all-electric range in combination with a total range of 500 miles – is the no-brainer, especially when our Federal government subsidizes your purchase with a $7500 tax credit. The math is simple: Select a Pacifica Hybrid with a window sticker of $40K, and after the typical showroom consideration and the Federal tax credit you’ve bought one very capable, very efficient people carrier for around $30K, the money you’d expect to pay for a mid-level RAV4.
More time behind the wheel meant more time to enjoy the Pacific in its gas-only mode. Its 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 delivers 260 horsepower through Chrysler’s eFlite Variable transmission. The hook-up is positive (if you’re making a family, you gotta’ have hook-up), and at any-and-all freeway speeds the powertrain is relaxed. In combination with connected steering, positive braking and composed handling, the Pacifica offers cruising capability few car-based crossovers will match.
Of course, the reason for a minivan purchase is what it provides you between the wheelwells, and in this the Pacifica excels. Despite a footprint a tad more athletic than those offered by Honda’s Odyssey or Toyota’s Sienna, the Pacifica will swallow just about anything you’d care to throw at it – or in it. We had a 10-foot U-Haul for the big items coming from storage, but for the numerous boxes of just stuff the Pacifica was just about perfect.
If opting for the Pinnacle, the top-of-the-line trim provides the discerning owner with platinum chrome exterior trim, suede headliner, quilted caramel Nappa leather seating, two quilted lumbar comfort pillows for second row passengers (your valet attendant will LOVE these), satin chrome seat controls and – not to be forgotten – best-in-class total storage. Enough – they tell me – to store 60 gallons of milk. Pinnacle customers, I’ll guess, are lactose tolerant.
The kids opted for the Limited trim, and I’d be more-than-happy with that. Our current family ‘wagon’ is an ’06 Grand Cherokee Limited, and while it continues to provide reliable transport, at some point it will need replacing. With no off-roading in our future (or, quite frankly, in our past) a hybrid Pacifica would be the logical replacement. And given its well-executed appointments, it might also satisfy the less-than-logical requirements.