The 2024 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid May Not Be Sexy, But It Is a Seriously Sumptuous Way to Carry Your Posse from Coast to Bistro

Look, I know nobody ever accused a mini-van of being sexy.  But they are practical, offer surprising luxury, are pleasant to drive, and in the case of the 2024 Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid, they may also be the perfect bridge between gasoline and the high-tech all-electric driverless domiciles we foresee.  Whether connecting coasts or jumping your favorite bistro, a plug-in mini-van makes sense.

A Luxury Lozenge

It’s a mini-van, so we’ll skip the design analysis other than to say the Pacifica, especially in sinister S trim with blacked out grille, dark 18” wheels, and black logos is about as fetching as a three-row lozenge on wheels can be.  Foot-opened power sliding doors and a power rear hatch ease access whether collecting your offspring or carrying paying passengers in a driverless Waymo.

The Pacifica’s seven-passenger cabin is a place to relish long drives.  Owners give up the second row of Stow n’ Go seats in sacrifice of battery space, but the rear seats still fold flat into the floor.  Soft Nappa leather covers heated/ventilated cushions up front and heated captain’s chairs in the rear. Add to that a heated steering wheel, 20-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, twin-pane panoramic sunroof, and two rear infotainment screens stoked by Amazon Fire TV and HDMI inputs.

Captain Kirk finally made it to space, but he’d enjoy a blast of Earth from the helm of this starship with its swaths of piano black and silver trim, but it’s also convenient.  Turn a chrome knob to select gears, store bags under the flybridge console, and put giant sodas in the cupholders. Summon navigation, climate control, and audio via touchscreen, voice, or redundant buttons beneath – however you like it. Keep devices humming with wireless console charging plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Safety was a priority. Adaptive cruise maintains a pre-set distance on the highway while lane keep assist, rear cross path detection, and blind spot warnings keep the van on-path. Forward collision alert with pedestrian and cycle detection will auto brake if you don’t. Not good at parallel or perpendicular parking? No worries – the Pacifica can do that too.

Electric or Gas?

Imagine all that and (almost) never having to buy gasoline.  Anybody who’s driven an electric vehicle appreciates the smooth torquey feel, being able to “refuel” at home, and warm vibes of being environmentally friendlier.  But, looking for a charging station while on a trip is a pain in the rump.  For many, a plug-in hybrid is the best way to go.

For starters, the Pacifica PHEV travels 32 miles on electricity – enough for daily commutes and shuttling kids, especially if you can tap a plug at work or a public charging station.  However, there’s also a 3.6-liter gasoline engine that automatically fires up to travel far and wide.  The system posts some good numbers:  260 horsepower, 82-MPGe combined, and 30-MPG running as a gas-fed hybrid.  Plug in when you can; drive where you want.

I’ve driven the Pacifica down Mulholland Drive in L.A., through slogged city traffic, and on long boring hauls through Indiana corn fields.  Tight steering and low center of gravity allow the Pacifica to drive more like a large Fiat than bouncy crossover.  It soaks up miles like almost nothing else.  Unlike big crossovers, your kids and grandma can step in and out as easily as lodging a church pew.

While the Pacifica starts at a value-packed $39,400, and plug-in variants rise from $51,095, our well-equipped S edition came to a luxurious $64,250.  Competitors include the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and three-row crossovers like the Chevy Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, and Kia Telluride.

Storm Forward!

Send comments to Casey at [email protected]; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.