2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: first drive of plug-in hybrid minivan Page 2

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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Asked about this, Chrysler engineers essentially said they'd wanted to keep the driving experience as familiar as possible, since they felt a large number of Pacifica Hybrid buyers would likely be new to hybrids and plug-in vehicles.

Given its first-in-the-segment position, that's not an unreasonable assumption, we think.

The "easy and understandable" approach extends to the instrumentation, which is standard Pacifica with a few additions: an energy tab on the center touchscreen that shows energy flow, and a powertrain display between the gauges.

On the road, the ride is smooth and the roadholding is good. Even the standard Pacifica is a large vehicle, and the added 650 pounds of the hybrid version—with the battery mounted below the second-row passengers' feet—keeps it firmly planted in turns.

Recharging the 16-kwh battery takes 2 hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, or about 14 hours on a standard 120-volt household circuit. The onboard charger is rated at 6.6 kilowatts.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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Once the battery was empty, in mixed driving with considerable traffic, we averaged 28 miles per gallon. Final EPA ratings aren't out yet, though the non-hybrid version comes in at 22 mpg combined.

Chrysler estimates an efficiency of 80 MPGe when running electrically, although that's for the city portion of the test and not the combined number. (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, or MPGe, is a measure of how far a vehicle can travel electrically on the same amount of energy as contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.)

Obviously driving style, speed, and traffic conditions will vary that result considerably.

It's worth noting that while the third-row seat in the Pacifica Hybrid still folds flat into its compartment below the floor, the second row no longer does—because Chrysler's "Stow-N-Go" bin for the rear seat is now occupied by the battery.

On the other hand, that gives second-row riders more comfortable seats with thicker and plusher upholstery than those designed to fold into the floor.

The two pieces of the rear seat are removable for maximum cargo capacity, weighing about 60 pounds apiece.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica - Best Car to Buy 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica - Best Car to Buy 2017

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The majority of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids are likely to be the Platinum model starting at $44,995, its maker says, though the Premium base version starts at $41,995. Both prices are before the mandatory destination fee.

All Pacifica Hybrids qualify for the full $7,500 federal income-tax credit for purchase of a plug-in vehicle, and a $1,500 purchase rebate in California plus "green sticker" single-occupant access to that state's highway carpool lanes.

Chrysler offers a 15-year, 150,000-mile warranty on all emission-related equipment and a 10-year, 150,000-mile warranty on the battery (against failure, not against capacity degradation).

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will go on sale later this year, and arrive in dealerships in volume early next year. It will be distributed nationally.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article referred to the Pacifica Hybrid as an "eight-seat" vehicle. While a version of the conventional Pacifica is available with a three-position second row, the hybrid model comes only with captain's chairs in the second row, which are standard for its two upper-level trim options. We thank reader Sopfu for the correction and apologize for the error.

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