After an intensive six months of judging, the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid was named ‘Best EV in Canada’ by the highly regarded Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. The vehicle has won many awards since it first appeared and the AJAC victory is the latest.
The Pacifica was the very first (and still the only) electrified vehicle in the minivan segment, surprising given the fact that young families who typically buy these vehicles are often operating on a strict budget and any help cutting gas bills has to be a major plus. Many observers of the automotive world believe that minivans should have been among the first to be ‘hybridized’ but that hasn’t been the case. It’s a plug-in hybrid, which means you can charge the battery overnight and not depend solely on the gas engine for a battery boost.
Built in Windsor, Ontario, the Pacifica Hybrid can achieve some highly impressive fuel consumption figures and is capable of running round town in electric-only mode for 50 km. Using the hybrid mode, it has a range of 800 km so the last thing owners will suffer from is ‘range anxiety.’
Like its conventionally-powered stablemate, the Pacifica is about as sleek and attractive as a minivan can get. Despite its svelte lines, it’s cavernous inside and easily accommodates seven passengers. For kids who get easily bored on long trips, there’s a rear TV screen option that’s surprisingly large. The rearmost seats disappear into the floor when not needed and the second row units fold almost flat so owners get cavernous amounts of room in which to stow large loads like furniture.
The Pacifica Hybrid, which comes in three trim levels, is powered by a 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 that uses two electric motors and a high voltage, 96-cell lithium-ion 360-volt battery. Combining gasoline and electric motors, a horsepower figure of 260 is achieved – very impressive, especially for a utility vehicle like this. The Pacifica Hybrid uses an electrically variable transmission that has dual-motor EV drive capability.
Inside, this is an exceptionally comfortable tourer that’s obviously designed to keep everyone happy on very long runs when necessary. Even with the entry-level trim version, the Pacifica is lavishly equipped and has a very long list of safety features to handle just about any hazard. If specified, Chrysler’s touch-screen infotainment can add many useful features and its ease of use beats just about anything in the auto industry, regardless of price. It’s one of those rare navigation systems that almost anyone can learn to use without reference to the instruction manual.
Minivans don’t sell in the numbers they once did but for many buyers, there’s simply no alternative. Thankfully, minivan inventor Chrysler is still highly active in the market and this plug-in hybrid variant of the Pacifica can only reinforce the company’s leadership status.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: 7-seat minivan
ENGINE: 3.6-litre V-6 with two electric motors
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 8-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: Varies according to plug-in hybrid charging levels
PRICE: Base, $56,495 MSRP