2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid makes family life easier

The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited requires an open plug and an open mind. That is the main difference for owners between the gas-only Pacifica minivan—or any other three-row family vehicle—and the Pacifica Hybrid. The other difference is owners won’t need to plan a stop at the gas station in their weekly list of errands, even if they forget to plug it in the garage. 

Now in its fourth year, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid features minor cosmetic upgrades compared to last year, including a new Red S appearance package that paints the upholstery red instead of black. My tester didn’t have that, and my retinas are grateful, but it did have the new ceramic gray paint that’s grayer than winter in the Midwest. Other new bits on my tester were a honeycomb grille, a panoramic sunroof, and one-touch power windows for second-row passengers. 

We gave the 2020 Pacifica a 7.2 TCC Rating, but that’s based on the gas-only version. In a week tooling around town without the usual hustle and bustle of kids’ activities, the 2020 Pacifica Hybrid Limited still impressed with its seamless hybrid operation and loaded comfort and convenience features. It’s the best family car on sale, even without a flaming red interior. 

Hit: It tolerates negligence

I left the Pacifica Hybrid unplugged for two nights and I can’t blame the kids or busyness; it was the typical mental mush of being a middle-aged parent of teens. The van still had about a dozen miles of charge for the weekend’s errands, and when the gas engine came on with a subtle hum, it was as reassuring as a sump pump coming on in a storm. There were no alerts or alarms reminding me of bad parenting of the Pacifica Hybrid. I didn’t have to press a button or think once about how the two motors pair with the engine through the electronically controlled variable transmission. The shift to the 3.6-liter V-6 is seamless and quiet enough that it wouldn’t wake a toddler or newborn who finally fell asleep. Then it got a full charge overnight with my standard 120-volt outlet in my garage. With no road trips in sight, I could go months on the same tank of gas.

Miss: The electric-mile range estimate

That old saw, “Your mileage may vary,” applies to plug-in cars even more than gas cars. The Pacifica had a 38-mile range readout after the full overnight charge. The EPA rates the Pacifica Hybrid at a conservative 32 miles of range. The difference is mostly based on previous driving behavior, which can be affected by everything from aggressive driving to regen braking to how you use the climate controls. The range meter felt accurate. When I went harder on the pedal (but not hard enough to engage the engine) and went heavy on the brake, it ate miles quicker than miles driven. Likewise, when I feathered the throttle and coasted into stops, the meter miles went longer. Whatever the case, you don’t have to worry about running out of juice.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited

Hit: Clever packaging

The Pacifica Hybrid cannot offer second-row seats that fold into the floor due to batteries packed in the floor. The Hybrid also does not yet offer all-wheel drive, unlike the late 2020 and 2021 gas models. But it still has clever storage spaces that make family life easier. The 60/40-split third row still folds into the floor via pull straps, and the charger cord stows neatly in the side panel so there’s no compromising cargo space. Even when the back was loaded with the mobile detritus of family living, there was still easy access to that compartment, which could be used for other essentials like a six-pack and a bottle of wine. 

The deep well of the cargo area behind the third row is the second reason behind sliding doors why a minivan is better than any three-row SUV. With bag hooks on the seatbacks, the 32.3 cubic feet of space made runs to Costco and Menards easier without having to fiddle with the seats. The same run likely would’ve required me to fold the third row of a crossover SUV. Put another way, if you had to fill all seven seats to carpool to practice, the Pacifica could fit all the gear behind the third row, instead of in laps. 

Miss: The $1,895 panoramic sunroof

My tester crested $50,000, and its sunroof would be an option I’d ignore to keep costs lower. The $795 S appearance package would also be on the cutting floor because I don’t need to see the smears on the black leather left behind by my kids. I’d keep the $995 advanced safety group with adaptive cruise control and a host of other active safety features. 

The full $7,500 EV tax credit still applies to the 2020 Pacifica Hybrid, which means the top Limited trim could be had for just over $40,000 with destination. That’s a good deal. Considering the 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile hybrid warranty, it’s a good time to get the plug-in Pacifica, even with gas prices so low. Skipping gas stations leaves more time for living. 

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2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited

Base price: $47,340, including $1,495 destination

Price as tested: $51,025

Drivetrain: 260-hp 3.6-liter V-6 and 16.2-kwh battery mated to an electronically controlled variable transmission with front-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 30 mpg combined, 32-mile electric range

The hits: Smart powertrain, clever packaging

The misses: Difference in EPA range estimate and actual range meter, pricey options.

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