The Chrysler Pacifica is uniquely positioned. The manufacturer had difficulty deciding on its name and then placed the Pacifica in a one-vehicle segment. It’s the only electric van available.

Introduced at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, the Chrysler van’s sixth-generation debuted as the 2017 Pacifica. It was formerly the name of the manufacturer’s crossover SUV. It’s also the new designation for the former Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan in North American and the discontinued Chrysler/Lancia Voyager in European markets.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid with S Appearance Package.
2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid with S Appearance Package.

The Pacifica is further unique since it’s offered with another first — a nine-speed automatic transmission. A continuously electrically variable transmission (EVT) is offered on the hybrid version.

As a hybrid, the Pacifica is offered in Touring Plus, Touring L and Limited trims. All options are equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 eHybrid matched to an eFlite Single Input EVT. It produces a combined 260 horsepower. The top-line Limited trim has a starting MSRP of $45,545.

For the economically minded, the seven-seat Pacific Hybrid has a 32-mile range with its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. It has an impressive 520-mile gas/electric range. The EPA city/highway combined fuel economy ratings are 32 miles per gallon and 84 e-miles per gallon.

Competitors for the non-hybrid Pacifica trims include the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna.

The Hybrid trim is also the most expensive Pacifica, but its price isn’t base solely on its electric elements. It features all of the non-hybrid equipment and a healthy offering of comfort and technology upgrades standard and as options.

Heated and ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control are front-row additions and USB ports are available in both rows. Also optionally available only on the hybrid trim is the Advanced SafetyTec Group. Lane departure mitigation, parallel and perpendicular parking assist forward parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and a 360-degree camera are all worthy.

Vans were once only family oriented. It didn’t make sense for a single driver or small family to own one of the large vehicles. But the Pacific is among a few options that change the logic.

From acceleration to breaking, steering to road feel, comfort to versatile interior space and gas mileage to maneuverability, the van is a top choice for many buyers’ needs. The hybrid trim is also the heaviest model, which helps the smooth drive. Bumps are taken without jarring or any other issues.

Chrysler has also revised the van’s styling options. The S Appearance Package is edgy with an aggressive, near-futuristic look. The package includes 18-inch wheels with a black finish, gloss-black exterior accents and an all-black interior with gray accents.

Interior styling further distinguishes the Pacifica’s nod to the future arriving now. A road dial replaces a traditional shifting mechanism, and it’s refreshingly easy to use. The lack of a shifter expands the front seat center space for other use options. The parking brake is also operated with a button.

Other manufacturers could learn to simplify their navigation systems from Chrysler. The Pacifica’s Uconnect touch-screen infotainment system is quite intuitive. Its major functions are simple to use with the steering wheel heat and seat ventilation functions as the only exceptions.

The hybrid trim has 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in use. It’s not much less than competitors’ non-hybrid trims. But there’s one shortcoming. The Pacifica’s non-hybrid trim efficient Stow-n-Go middle seats aren’t offered. Storing the seats manually is a two-person task. When completed, the 140.5 total cubic feet of storage is ready for hauling needs.

The Pacifica doesn’t have much to criticize. Sport utility vehicles still rule sales numbers. But Chrysler’s vans are a smart option, for families large and small.

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