The automaker formerly known as Chrysler Corp. got the jump on the rest of the industry when it introduced the minivan in 1984. The Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager were instantly and enormously popular. At the time, they were the most versatile motor vehicles ever built — featuring car-like handling, good fuel economy, room for seven to eight passengers, and easy conversion to a cargo van. They were the gold standard for minivans for several years.

Then came the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, both superior to the Chrysler minivans year after year. Under the auspices of Fiat Chrysler, however, the good old days are back. The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica is a solid competitor in the minivan market, and in some respects, it literally stands alone.
Take, for example, the 2019 Pacifica Hybrid Limited. Toyota may have leaped to the forefront years ago with its gasoline-electric hybrid models, but its acclaimed Sienna minivan can’t cruise 33 miles without burning a single teaspoonful of gasoline. Equipped with a plug-in-hybrid system, the Pacifica can function as an all-electric commuter vehicle during the week, and a weekend or vacation family wagon the rest of the time.
The Pacifica hybrid system presents one substantial advantage and two downsides. The advantage is the highest fuel-economy rating of any minivan (and many smaller vehicles). The gasoline-electric rating is 30 mpg, while the all-electric rating is 82 mpg equivalent. Using the Pacifica primarily as a commuter and charging it at home overnight, we were able to push the fuel-economy gauge close to 40 mpg.
The first downside is the minivan’s high cost: $39,995 for the Pacifica Touring Plus hybrid. Our test car, a Pacifica Hybrid Limited with about $3,600 in options, had a sticker price of $50,375 — nearly double the sticker price of the base Pacifica L, which starts at $26,985. Its fuel-economy rating is 18 mpg city, 28 highway.
The second downside is related to the extra space required for the batteries. The base Pacifica has a 19-gallon gasoline tank, compared with the hybrid’s 16.5 gallons. And, while the third-row stow’n go split bench seat folds neatly into the well behind it, the second-row seats must be removed from the vehicle to transform it into a cargo van. Non-hybrid Pacificas’ second-row seats are stow’n go.
We liked the big minivan’s ride and handling, and it would be hard to identify a luxury feature that’s missing from this package. Heated and ventilated seats; adaptive cruise control; two-tone leather upholstery; power everything; panoramic moonroof; seatback video screens; and Fiat Chrysler’s excellent UConnect infotainment system, to name a few.
Those and other features make the Pacifica Hybrid Limited ideal for travel with children, and the special KeySense fob is good to have when the kids get a little older. KeySense enables parents to set limits on such details as top speed and audio volume. It also can be set to enhance safety features, such as forward collision and blind-spot warning. It can be set through the UConnect system in the car.
The 2019 Pacifica has been rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Limited


Price: $50,375
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6 plug-in eHybrid, 260 horsepower combined
Transmission: continuously variable automatic
Drive: front-wheel
Electric range: 33 miles
Weight: 4,987 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, twist blade with coil spring rear
Wheels: 18-in. painted alloy
Tires: 235/60R18 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 32.3 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 140.5 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 16.5 gal.
Fuel economy: 30 mpg combined, 82 mpge
Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline, household electrical current