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ENVIRONMENTAL VAN: Chrysler outfits its family-friendly 2018 Pacifica minivan with a plug-in electric-gas propulsion system

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Chrysler, a one-time purveyor of a full lineup of vehicles, has been reduced to a two-model roster: the full-size 300 sedan and the Pacifica minivan.

The way things are going these days, if Ford’s recent announcement of an impending deletion of most of its traditional sedans and hatchbacks in favor of crossovers, SUVs and trucks, how much longer can Chrysler’s 300 sedan last? General Motors, too, is headed in that general direction.

That would reduce Chrysler to a sole vehicle: the Pacifica. Fortunately, it’s a good one.

Particularly enticing in this era of growing interest in electrified transportation, as well as environmental concerns, Pacifica is offered in a hybrid version, America’s first-ever hybrid minivan.

The electric Hybrid is motivated by a 3.6-liter V-6 paired with lithium-ion batteries, two electric motors and a continuously variable automatic transaxle for a combined output of 260 horsepower. Despite the added weight of the batteries and motors, the Pacifica is pleasantly peppy around town and on the open road.

That weight, combined with the already-low center of gravity, gives the van a well-planted feel and confident cornering.

Driving solely on cord-rechargeable electric power, the van can cover up to 33 miles; on a full gas tank and fully charged batteries, the Pacifica Hybrid can travel up to around 570 miles. Considering the vehicle’s size and heft, that’s pretty impressive mileage.

Our Limited-grade tester sported a near-luxury interior featuring premium Napa leather seating surfaces and top-quality soft-touch materials on dash and doors. The second row is decked out with captain’s chairs that unfortunately can’t collapse into the floor like gas-only models, due to that space eaten up by the hybrid batteries. But they do slide to allow fairly easy entry to the third-row bench.

The Limited Hybrid comes comprehensively equipped, particularly with the Customer Preferred Package ($1,595) that includes all the current tech safety and warning systems, myriad infotainment add-ons and upgrades, and a panoramic sunroof.

The Pacifica Limited Hybrid brings impressive fuel economy to a near-luxury vehicle with family-size room and an easy-driving demeanor. Way to go, Chrysler.



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