7 ways the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum made me a minivan fan

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum main.JPG

I have driven a lot of vehicles during my decades as a driver, both in my personal use as well as those I've reviewed for Grandma's Briefs. Up until I received the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum for a test drive, though, I had never driven a minivan, never driven a hybrid. The Pacifica — the only hybrid minivan out there — provided the opportunity to experience both in one pretty package.

My first look at the vehicle upon delivery from Rocky Mountain Redline:

With fall in the air — and the aspens changing up in the mountains — my husband and I headed west to check out the fall colors but more importantly, the features of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

The first thing we noticed was the incredible smoothness of the ride. In all honesty, I thought the fact the vehicle switched from electric mode (most efficient) to gas depending on speed and such (more on that later) would create a bit of a lurch as it went back and forth. Not at all. Smooth transition with a similarly exceptional smooth ride overall. My husband and I actually remarked many times that the Pacifica rode more smoothly than any other vehicle we've driven. Seriously.

And it beautifully handled the twists and turns of Ute Pass.

Where we took the Pacifica:

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The comfort and agility of the drive were just the beginning of my unexpected infatuation with the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. As I discovered more about the minivan on the drive to and from the mountains as well as during the week I drove it about town, seven features proved particularly responsible for my crush.

Style

On the outside, the styling of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum seems muscular and athletic, not boxy as I expected a minivan to be. As you can see in the video above, the interior is equally sleek — and especially expansive. The tri-pane panoramic sunroof (a dual-pane panoramic sunroof over the first two rows with a fixed glass pane over the third row) contributes to the open feel. As do the upholstery and accents inspired by Juneau, Alaska: black and alloy with anodized ice cave accents, ice blue stitching, and black piping. So pretty!

Space

Being a minivan, I naturally figured there'd be plenty of space in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid for passengers, but seating space is greater than I anticipated...

 With three rows, there's comfy seating for up to seven.  (Photo courtesy Chrysler)

With three rows, there's comfy seating for up to seven. (Photo courtesy Chrysler)

As an empty nester, I haul more home improvement supplies than people, so I found the cargo capabilities impressive (the Pacifica can hold up to 64 quarter-inch sheets of plywood!)...

 Deep cargo space with third row seating.

Deep cargo space with third row seating.

 Cargo space expands when third row seats fold (easily) into cargo area. Even more space when second-row seats flattened.

Cargo space expands when third row seats fold (easily) into cargo area. Even more space when second-row seats flattened.

Safety Features

 I quickly came to depend on that clear and colorful backup camera, when backing out of the garage and more, including at Mueller State Park.

I quickly came to depend on that clear and colorful backup camera, when backing out of the garage and more, including at Mueller State Park.

With more than 100 standard and available safety features, I don't believe I've ever felt safer in a vehicle. Or more challenged on where to begin the list of features, so here are highlights from the press materials:

  • Surround view camera with four cameras positioned around the vehicle for 360-degree views (including bird's eye!)
  • ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist to guide the driver into parking spaces
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Hold, which maintains the distance between the vehicle and the one in front of it
  • Forward Collision Warning-Plus deploys the brakes to alert the driver if an impact appears imminent, and assists with driver response
  • LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus
  • Blind-spot Monitoring
  • ParkSense rear park assist with stop
  • ParkView rear backup camera, electronic stability control and electric park brake
  • Advanced multistage front airbags, driver and passenger inflatable knee-bolster airbag, Side curtain airbags in front and all rows
  • LATCH Ready child seat anchor system

Technology

The unmatched techy features of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum created maximum comfort and convenience. From the keyless remote and handsfree sliding door and liftgate to the 7-inch full-color driver information display behind the steering wheel to the 8.4-inch touchscreen featuring navigational goodies, the active noise cancellation (no more road noise!), and more. Plus, heated seats, an amazing stereo, simple smartphone connections, voice control, multiple USB and other media ports, and so. much. more.

Even with all possibilities for staying connected and safe (tire pressure monitoring!), the dash doo-dads weren't overwhelming.

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Comfort

Creature comforts I loved include:

  • 3-zone auto control front and rear A/C
  • heated front seats
  • a driver seat that adjusts in numerous ways for max comfort: 8-way seat adjustment, 4-way lumbar adjustment
  • super simple to get in and out of, whether driving, riding shotgun, or climbing into the second or third row
  • comfy upholstery that didn't stick to the skin when wearing shorts (yes, that's important)

Hybrid Mode

This one's a biggie! The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum is, like I said, the very first hybrid minivan — and the only one that can get 84 miles to the gallon! The vehicle can go an average of 33 miles solely on electric and, according to vehicle literature, "when the battery’s energy is depleted to a certain threshold, the Pacifica Hybrid becomes a part-time electric vehicle, like a conventional hybrid. Power to the wheels is supplied by the electric drive system or supplemented by a specially adapted new version of the award-winning FCA US Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine."

I was a wee bit anxious about charging the vehicle at first but it turned out to be quite simple, as the steps below show, beginning with removing the charger from the storage spot in the cargo area.

 Plugging the car into a conventional 110 outlet, as I did, takes about 14 hours to fully charge. An optional 240-volt plug-in system takes just two hours to charge. 

Plugging the car into a conventional 110 outlet, as I did, takes about 14 hours to fully charge. An optional 240-volt plug-in system takes just two hours to charge. 

Commitment to Family

  Photo courtesy Chrysler.

Photo courtesy Chrysler.

I may be an empty nester but a company's commitment to family is a huge factor for me, and Chrysler goes above and beyond with its Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid models. In addition to the extensive safety and convenience features perfectly suited to folks with families, two specific family focused components caught my eye (and heart).

First, there's the KeySense key fob designed for helping teen drivers stay safe. The programmable fob allows parents to place limits on speed and audio volume, mutes the audio when front seatbelts aren't buckled, prevents disable features such as the Forward Collision Warning-Plus and ParkSense rear park assist. Plus, parents can block SiriusXM channels they don't want their teen listening to while on the road.

Then there's the on-the-road fun for backseat passengers, via the Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment system. The 10-inch high-definition touchscreens aren't simply DVD players. Backseat passengers can watch movies, play built-in games, even connect their personal devices to work on homework while on the road.

Last but not least, there's monsters! Not in the Pacifica but in a multimedia campaign pairing Sesame Street characters with Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for digital and television sponsorship plus a fun online video series. Here, the latest installment:

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum

Engine: 3.6L V6 eHybrid Engine

Transmission: eFlite EVT Transmission

Fuel economy: 84 MPGe (electricity + gas) / 32 MPG (gas only)

Price (as driven): $47,885 ($44,995 base plus optional packages and destination charge)

Learn more about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum at Chrysler.com.

Disclosure: I had the opportunity to test drive this vehicle courtesy Rocky Mountain Redline; opinions and photos (except as noted) are my own.