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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The Santa Fe Hybrid offers plenty to like.

Hyundai

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is all-new for 2021, and features an impressive list of standard features, great safety scores, and family-friendly space. If you're looking for a new SUV, it's hard to imagine a better fit for an urban family, or any other family, for that matter. Beyond a few small complaints, the Santa Fe Hybrid offers plenty to like.

Here are three things to like about the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid The Santa Fe Hybrid brings great passenger space and an upscale interior.Hyundai

It offers plenty of passenger and cargo space

The Santa Fe offers roomy seating for up to five adults with more than reasonable head and legroom in both rows. Second-row passengers have room to move, and don't end up jockeying for position with taller front-seat passengers. When the SUV is packed with people and needs to haul gear, it's more than capable of doing that, too, as it offers 36.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row and up to 72.1 cubic feet with the second-row seats folded down. Making the space more accessible, power-folding second-row seats and a hands-free power liftgate are standard.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid All trims come decked out with safety equipment.Hyundai

It delivers excellent fuel economy

The Santa Fe Hybrid returns impressive fuel economy numbers, especially in town, making it an excellent urban family runabout. The EPA estimates that the SUV can deliver 33 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg combined. The Santa Fe Hybrid Blue returns 36 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 34 mpg combined. That's several miles per gallon better than the standard Santa Fe and better than some sedans.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Fuel economy is better than many smaller cars.Hyundai

It earned great safety scores

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe earned a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That score is due in part to the Santa Fe's Good marks in crash tests, but the SUV's long list of standard safety kit helps, too. All models come with forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian, cyclist, and junction turning detection, lane keeping assist, driver attention warnings, lane following assist, and a rear occupant alert system. Optional features include blind spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, a parking distance warning system, and a highway driving assist system.

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Family vehicles

Two minivans that make family hauling fun

The latest minivans are actually quite desirable.

Toyota

There are people who wouldn't be seen dead in a minivan and then there are people who are lying. That's the long-held mentality around America's most useful but most maligned family-hauling vehicles, but the latest offerings from Toyota, Honda, Kia, and Chrysler are out to prove the old way of thinking wrong. Two of them, the newly redesigned Toyota Sienna and brand-new Kia Carnival are truly compelling vehicles that bring style and substance to the category. Here's a look at what makes them so cool.

2021 Toyota Sienna


2021 Toyota Sienna The new Sienna features sharper styling and comes exclusively with a hybrid powertrain.Toyota


Toyota overhauled the Sienna for 2021 with an all-hybrid powertrain across the board, sharp style, and a gorgeous interior. The Sienna's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine pairs with two electric motors for a total output of 243 horsepower. The van is offered with all-wheel drive, which adds a third electric motor that drives the rear wheels. Though it won't win any drag races, the Sienna makes up for its leisurely acceleration with great fuel economy that can reach 36 mpg city with front-wheel drive and 35 mpg city with all-wheel drive.


2021 Toyota Sienna Toyota's 2021 updates to the Sienna include a more upscale interior.Toyota


Along with its new, efficient powertrain, the Sienna got a refreshed interior that is both comfortable and easy on the eyes. The Toyota does lack some of the clever seating features that make such a difference for families in rivals such as the Chrysler Pacifica, but the van does carry sliding second-row seats that can move a little over two feet forward and backward to allow for more legroom when needed. The top two trims also offer optional reclining seats with fold-away ottomans and an available built-in vacuum cleaner.

2022 Kia Carnival


2022 Kia Carnival Doesn't look all that much like a minivan, does it?Kia


The all-new 2022 Kia Carnival should be viewed as a defining vehicle in the minivan segment. It doesn't exactly look like a minivan, with styling that more closely resembles a stretched SUV than a blobby family-hauler. The Carnival is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Acceleration is strong and the powertrain is refined, but unlike the Toyota there's no all-wheel drive option.


2022 Kia Carnival The Carnival's interior is truly luxurious and looks great.Kia


Where the Kia truly sets itself apart is its interior. The top SX Prestige trim offers soft, luxurious leather upholstery and reclining seats with footrests like the Toyota. The available panoramic sunroof opens far enough to allow air over the second-row seats and the Carnival's interior finishes are among the best in its class. An optional dual 12.3-inch display covers a large portion of the dash, and offers a responsive, intuitive infotainment experience. The SX and SX Prestige trims both come standard with a rear-seat entertainment system as well.


2022 Kia Carnival The Carnival is sleek and stylish - two things not commonly associated with minivans.Kia

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