Chrysler’s Town & Country was one of the first minivans on the market when it arrived in 1989 as a spinoff of the original Dodge Caravan, and its mix of practicality and near-premium status did a lot to boost the segment.
For 2017, Chrysler is putting the Town & Country name out to pasture--but it's still making waves in the segment it established more than three decades ago.
That’s because the car’s replacement, the all-new Pacifica, is the first minivan in the world with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
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Pacifica is a name Chrysler has used before for a crossover utility vehicle sold in the mid-2000s.
The all-new Pacifica is a true minivan, but with its plug-in hybrid powertrain, it’s unlike anything else on the market.
The Pacifica plug-in hybrid, officially just called the Pacifica Hybrid, uses the latest Pentastar V-6 from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU].
The 3.6-liter unit, which was recently enhanced for improved efficiency, is mated to a two-motor hybrid system that substitutes for a transmission and operates like an electrified version of a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
A one-way clutch allows both electric motors to send power to the wheels, as opposed to conventional two-motor setups where one motor serves as a generator and the other as the drive unit.
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According to Chrysler, the benefit is increased efficiency, refinement and better packaging.
Spinning the front wheels, the setup should see the Pacifica Hybrid return EPA-rated gas mileage of 80 MPGe, according to the company.
The lithium-ion battery pack under the rear seat is a 16-kilowatt-hour unit that takes approximately 2 hours to recharge using a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, and can take the vehicle as much as 30 miles on all-electric power.
The new Pacifica Hybrid is joined by a gasoline-only version which shares an engine with the hybrid and is rated at 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.
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This version also comes with a nine-speed auto standard and will be available with an engine stop-start system. Power numbers for the Pacifica Hybrid will be announced closer to the market launch.
In gasoline-only guise, the new Pacifica goes on sale this spring, as a 2017 model.
The Pacifica Hybrid will arrive in showrooms in the second half of the year.
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