The family minivan enters the hybrid sweepstakes this year with the announcement by Chrysler of the upcoming launch of the2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which is expected provide a driving range of around 48 km on a single full charge, with charging time estimated at only two hours.
Surprising as it may be, the minivan is one of the last segments to welcome a hybrid vehicle. The 2017 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid is filling a vacuum in the category with a fuel-stingy PHEV that meets the needs of the largest families, while reducing both fuel costs and environmental imprint. And what's not to like about that idea?
The Pacifica is the continuation of the Town and Country, whose name has been dropped after 26 years as part of Chrysler's focus on creating a new image to go with the new features of its signature minivan. Staid no more is the clear implication in the rebranding.
The new Pacifica plug-in Hybrid will feature a high-efficiency 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine, backed by an electric motor running on a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery that sits below the second row of seats. Chrysler is placing the output of the new powertrain at 248 HP, slightly less than the regular gasoline-engine Pacifica's 287 HP. The electric motor, meanwhile, can be fully charged when using a 240-volt outlet in just two hours.
The design of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid differs hardly at all from the regular version of the minivan, with the notable exception of the second row of seats not being stowable, due to the presence of the battery. Those needing extra cargo space will still be able to fold flat the third row of seats, however, making the Pacifica Hybrid a highly versatile minivan able to transport some pretty bulky stuff.
A distinguishing element of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid's drivetrain is a newly-developed one-way clutch system, which allows the electric motor to act not only as a generator but actually deliver torque to the wheels, resulting in greater efficiency, refinement and better packaging of components. As well, the elimination of the power steering pump and of the alternator led in turn to a re-design of the front cover and front accessory system. Efficiency is further enhanced by the battery-recharging element of the electric motor, which kicks in whenever the vehicle decelerates.
The new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid plug-in minivan is expected at dealerships in North America in the second half of 2016.