Road Trip

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is an ideal road trip warrior, especially for National Parks travel

Author Nicole Wakelin tried out the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid during a long haul trip across Wyoming and South Dakota visiting many of America's National Parks.

Photo by Nicole Wakelin

Today's roads are populated by legions of SUVs and crossovers, many filled with busy families. They're a good choice when you have lots of passengers, but don't discount the perks of driving a minivan like the Chrysler Pacifica. Sure, it's not especially cool, but when it comes to functionality, it's hard to beat.

The Pacifica makes managing day-to-day life easy, but it also shines on a road trip. Whether you're packing up the kids or it's simply a couple's getaway, this minivan is loaded with features to make the trip relaxing and fun.

On the kid front, there's a rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headphones and two 10-inch touchscreens in the seatbacks. The second and third row Stow 'n Go seats fold down into the floor when not in use or that same space becomes hidden underfloor storage. It's the perfect place to pack extra snacks, drinks, or an emergency change of clothes.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid's all-electric drive mode is helpful for sneaking up on wildlife at the National Parks.Photo by Nicole Wakelin

Even if there aren't kids in the mix, it turns out the Chrysler Pacifica is a great choice for a couple's getaway. Equipped with optional captain's chairs in the second row, the space in the middle is an ideal spot for a cooler. It's easily reachable for the front passenger so a cold drink and a snack are always at the ready.

There's also an ample amount of storage with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet behind the first row. Even with a full load of passengers, the Pacifica provides plenty of room for your luggage. Leave the kids at home and all that cargo space makes picking up those quirky roadside finds a breeze.

The Chrysler Pacifica gets good fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined with the gas engine. There's also the Pacifica Hybrid, which is the only hybrid minivan on the market. It gets an EPA-estimated 82 MPGe making it a fuel economy champion.

The Pacifica Hybrid has an all-electric range of 30 miles with regenerative braking that extends that range. Road trips that wander through more mountainous terrain will see that electric range go up with heavy brake use in downhill stretches.

A hybrid running in electric mode is quiet. Not only does it make the interior quiet for passengers, it reduces noise outside the vehicle, too. Those planning a drive where watching wildlife is a part of the adventure will find the Pacifica Hybrid less likely to startle roadside wildlife leaving the kids with a close-up look at creatures that might be spooked by a gas engine.

The Chrysler Pacifica is a versatile minivan with room for the family and all their stuff. Its comfortable and spacious interior lets everyone relax and good fuel economy, especially in the hybrid, make it easy on the family budget. Pricing for the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica starts at $33,495.

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Chrysler introduced the Pacifica Pinnacle to its lineup for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Minivans are usually relegated to mommy duty. They get used and abused by children of all ages, and they can take the beating. In the U.S. there are no luxury minivans. The segment is dominated by comfortable but rather utilitarian vehicles that deliver exactly what the average customer is expecting - and there's nothing wrong with that.

But then someone (maybe two someones, or three) at Chrysler had an idea. What if they pushed the Pacifica further into premium territory, offering a near-luxury version of a minivan? Would people buy it? The answer, after one solid day behind the wheel is, "they should."

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle The Pacifica received a new front end for 2021.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is a facelifted version of the van that debuted for the 2017 model year. It continues to be an attractive model, as far as minivans go. This version of the Pacifica has a more muscular aesthetic, shying away from the elegance of the previous three years. The sides and back are great but I honestly can't decide if I like the front or not, but it does remind me more of the Chrysler 300 than the previous iteration did.

New for 2021, all-wheel drive (AWD) is offered, bringing the Pacifica to the table that's been occupied solely by the Toyota Sienna for a long while. It's the first AWD minivan Chrysler has sold since 2004 and something buyers have been asking for since the Pacifica debuted, according to company insiders.

The Chrysler Pacifica itself is already in a position to go luxury. It's certainly already gained premium model status based solely on the Voyager-Pacifica split which saw Pacifica's lower cost grades become Voyager models, which were then modified for fleet and commercial use. The Voyager also effectively replaced the Dodge Grand Caravan in FCA's lineup as a cost-effective minivan solution.

This left room for the Pacifica Pinnacle, a new top-tier trim level that really shows up for the premium buyer. Not only is the Pacifica Pinnacle's design just as practical as the other models in the lineup, it goes the extra mile with comfort, soft-touch materials, and classy finishes.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Pacifica Pinnacle models are the top of the heap for minivans buyers.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Like the revised 2022 Kia Sedona, the Pacifica has a flat dashboard. In the Pacifica, it's anchored by a largest-in-class 10.1-inch touchscreen (the same size as the screens in the rear entertainment system but higher resolution). The lower half of the center stack is tilted toward the console and houses the shifter and climate controls. As tested in the Pinnacle trim, there was an abundance of Piano Black plastic trim with wood accents and real metal surrounds that easily make it the poshest new minivan on sale right now. Quilted leather seats, sueded center row pillows, and Beber floor mats complete the upscale look.

Unlike others in its class, the Pacifica doesn't appear lightweighted for efficiency to the point of cheapness. The doors have a well-weighted feel and close with a commanding thud. The thuds of road travel, surrounding vehicles' music choices, and engine noise are kept at bay thanks to new windows, seals, and insulation.

The minivans seats are comfortable and spacious. Unlike in other minivans, the center console and surrounding storage does not make the front row seats feel isolated from each other.

As tested, the Pacifica Pinnacle was powered by Chrysler's 3.6-liter V6 engine, that is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and delivers 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It was equipped with AWD, which is standard for the trim level, unless you opt for the hybrid.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle The new infotainment system in the Pacifica Pinnacle runs smoothly and is a pleasure to use.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

As it does with other vehicle's the Pacifica's AWD automatically acts when a set of conditions are met. With the Pacifica this means it works when it senses a temperature slip, when the electronic stability control is activated, while driving on a rough road, when a grade is steep, if conditions are slippery, when the steering wheel movement sways back and forth, or when there's a full throttle request on the powertrain.

If the AWD system senses that you're driving on a highway, or in conditions that don't require its use, it will deactivate automatically to improve the vehicle's fuel efficiency. This activation and deactivation process is so smooth you probably won't even notice it happening. However, you can feel the wheels engage and demonstrate the system's engineering when the conditions require it.

Having the AWD system doesn't mean that you have to forego Chrysler's Stow 'n Go storage system. Power-sliding rear doors, three-zone climate control (which still blows to circulate air even in the off setting), power first- and second-row windows, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, Stow 'n Go bucket seats with in-floor storage bins, driver's side Stow 'n Assist, and a Stow 'n Go third-row bench seat are all standard equipment. The Pacifica's seats don't have the extensive forward and aft travel the Toyota Sienna does, but the Stow 'n Go seats tumble into the floor to allow for flat loading. The Pacifica Pinnacle offers best-in-class total storage of 227.6 liters.

FCA's new Uconnect 5 infotainment operating system runs in the background of the Pacifica's screens. The system is graphically appealing, is quickly responsive, and features clean design. Though the system could stand to have a head-up display paired with it (Chrysler does not offer one in the Pacifica), the navigation is easy to use and read on the fly, and reroutes rapidly, even in urban settings with tall buildings surrounding the van.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle The Pacifica Pinnacle's seats are finely upholstered and come with two pillows.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Chrysler has given its Pinnacle model FamCam, an interior monitoring camera similar to what is in the Honda Odyssey, that takes in-cabin camera tech a step further offering the segment-exclusive rear-facing child seat view split-view display, and zoom-to-seat feature, among traditional camera functionality.

The Chrysler Pacifica comes standard with 97 safety features, and in the Pinnacle trim level that number swells to 100.

At over $53,000, the Pacifica Pinnacle is well into premium territory on price tag alone. However, it tops out in similar territory to its rivals, but is far more luxurious. Plus, it has AWD.

Look, it's not an SUV, but if you get around the "I'm not a minivan mom" mindset, the reality you might find is that the Pacifica Pinnacle is just as nice as a luxury three-row SUV, but with more and better functionality for everyday family life. Plus, it drives just as well.

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McLaren has chosen an easy-to-pronounce name for its new hybrid supercar - Artura.

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive

McLaren is about to mark the beginning of a new era in hybrid powertrain engineering. In the first half of 2021, its high-performance hybrid series production supercar will go on sale and we now know what it will be named.

The McLaren Artura builds on the legacy of the McLaren P1TM hybrid hypercar, which was unveiled in 2012, and the Speedtail Hyper-GT, which entered production this year and the fastest McLaren ever with a top speed of 250 mph.

"Every element of the Artura is all-new – from the platform architecture and every part of the High-Performance Hybrid powertrain, to the exterior body, interior and cutting-edge driver interface – but it draws on decades of McLaren experience in pioneering super-lightweight race and road car technologies to bring all of our expertise in electrification to the supercar class," said Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.

Mclaren Artura The Artura badging sits on what is likely the rear of the car.Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive

It will be the first car to be built on the company's new platform architecture, which has been optimized for electrification. Design and engineering of the McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture took place in the U.K. at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre.

Two photos released by the company show what is likely the back of the Artura, with a honeycomb design beneath the car's badging between two exhaust outlets.

The Artura will get a twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that combines with an electric motor. This will be the engine's debut. McLaren says that the engine retains the performance benefits of the company's larger V8s but has improved torque response at low engine speeds. The Artura can also run on all-electric power.

The weight of the hybrid engine system has been offset by the application of weight-saving technologies throughout the chassis, body, and powertrain. Ahead of a full product reveal, McLaren is touting the car's class-leading weight advantage.

The McLaren Artura is expected to be revealed soon. Pricing will likely be announced at that time.

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