My mother is an amazing woman. Besides excelling at all the “typical” motherly duties, she also tirelessly lugged me and my friends to soccer practice, my sister and her friends to dance rehearsal, and she still found time to keep our fridge constantly stocked with healthy food. And her vehicle of choice? A minivan.
During all the time she had it, I never heard her complain about anything, except for the frequency and cost of fill-ups. She loved nearly everything else about that minivan.
Despite that, I can say with near certainty that she would have dropped it in a heartbeat for the new Chrysler Pacifica hybrid that I had a chance to test-drive at the LA Auto Show on Wednesday.
With 30 miles of electric range and 500 miles of gasoline range — for a combined average of 80 MPGe — the Pacifica would have all but eliminated my mom’s principal complaint about her old minivan. The car can get to a full charge from an empty battery in 14 hours on a level 1 charger and in 2 hours on a level 2 charger. That means if you can plug in to even a regular wall outlet at night, you’re likely to leave in the morning with a full battery. And considering that the average mom travels 29 miles in a day, they could go months without filling up.
On top of that — and I can’t believe I’m about to say this — the Pacifica was a blast to drive. The electric motor means it’s an exceedingly smooth ride, and the gasoline engine is ready to kick in at a moment’s notice should the driver need access to the Pacifica’s impressive 260 hp. The minivan also incorporates regenerative braking, taking some of the energy generated from slowing down and sending it back into the system powering the vehicle. This makes for a smooth braking experience, and even more time between fill-ups. Neat.
As far as the interior goes, the Pacifica was surprisingly roomy, even by minivan standards. And while the second-row seats aren’t stow-and-go capable due to the battery being located directly below them, the third row seats are, and the second row seats can be removed if necessary.
The center console was sleek and intuitive, with parking-assist options that made simple backup cams look obsolete. How? When backing up, the car gives you an overhead view of your vehicle by piecing together images from the lane-assist cameras. It makes parallel parking a breeze.
All of this means two things: 1. Chrysler has made a darn good minivan, and 2. by doing so, they are bringing the rEVolution to soccer moms — a demographic that until now was locked into gasoline-only vehicles.
I’m no psychic, but I would be shocked if the Pacifica doesn’t become one of the best selling minivans in America when it launches early next year. Besides all the cool bells and whistles, Chrysler has designed a vehicle that will help the budget and time schedules of America’s moms by reducing the amount of money and time spent fueling up. And moms will notice.
Well done, Chrysler, well done. Now get to work on a Pacifica that can run on ethanol as well as electricity/gasoline and we’ll truly have a vehicle good enough for the hardworking moms who are the backbone of this country.