Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy 2018 finalist: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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If ever a green family vehicle had a rocky launch, it would be the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

Only two months after deliveries of the eagerly awaited plug-in hybrid seven-seat minivan began in April, sales were halted for several when a potentially faulty diode was identified.

In June, 1,368 Pacifica Hybrid minivans in the U.S. and a further 309 in Canada were recalled to replace the part.

DON'T MISS: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid sales have resumed after recall

That's all in the past now, and the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is back on sale, with a handful of updates over the 2017 version.

And because the first year of hybrid Pacifica missed our deadline for driving impressions last year by one day, it's a candidate for our Best Car To Buy award for 2018 instead.

Compared to the conventional Pacifica, rated at 22 mpg combined, the plug-in hybrid version carries a 32-mpg combined rating and 88 MPGe when operating in electric mode.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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Chrysler also calculates that its lifetime emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, will be one-quarter lower than the conventional model.

More important, though, it's that not only is it the first hybrid minivan sold in North America, it's the first minivan that plugs in as well.

Not that you would necessarily know that from some of Chrysler's marketing, which stresses its benefits even if you don't plug it in.

READ THIS: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Review

We'd suggest, however, that not plugging it in would be a terrible shame.

The 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack—neatly tucked into where the Stow'n'Go second-row seat would drop into the floor—is EPA-rated for 33 miles of electric range.

In several drives by several editors, we found that it was relatively easy to keep the minivan in electric mode in temperate weather without too much difficulty.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Enlarge Photo
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Enlarge Photo
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

The power of the gasoline engine was still there for full-power situations, but the pair of motors rated at 102 and 65 kilowatts (137 and 87 horsepower) propelled the large, heavy minivan on electricity alone in most types of driving.

And for 2018, 33 miles is actually the third-highest range rating of any plug-in hybrid, following only the BMW i3 REx (97 miles) and the 53 miles of the Chevrolet Volt, both of them compact five-door hatchbacks.

Not bad from a company whose CEO has a habit of sneering at electric cars and pointing out that they lose money for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

CHECK OUT: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: lifetime carbon emissions 24 percent lower vs standard minivan

Beyond that, the Pacifica Hybrid has virtually all of the features that won Chrysler's new minivan so many plaudits in its debut year.

The styling is smooth and disguises its bulk, the interior is not only attractive but extremely well-suited to family hauling duties, and the Uconnect infotainment system is among the best in the industry.

We have a few questions left about the plug-in hybrid Pacifica, including the degree to which it's really available nationally and some of the feature differences against the conventional version.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Enlarge Photo
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Enlarge Photo
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Still, it earned its finalist position based on being the first plug-in minivan and, for 2018, one of only a small handful of seven-seat vehicles of any kind with plugs.

But while the Volvo XC90 T8 also has seven seats, it's not only tens of thousands of dollars pricier than the Pacifica Hybrid but offers less range: just 14 miles.

Fiat Chrysler is expected to use versions of this hybrid powertrain in additional vehicles, perhaps including some conventional hybrids.

But launching its long-awaited hybrid system in a vehicle that pioneers a new segment, delivers more than 30 miles of electric range, and maintains the qualities that have won the Pacifica lineup such acclaim ... that we didn't expect.

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