Big thanks to Dave + Jo Lee for this article. We are a typical Wellesley family with two kids (ages 7 and 4) and a dog. Last year we needed to replace our aging Subaru Outback with another vehicle to go alongside our Prius. We wanted a 3-row vehicle to shuttle the boys, drive my in-laws when they are visiting, haul trash to the dump and make family road trips. It was also very important to us to find a fuel efficient, preferably EV option. We considered SUVs like the Honda Pilot and minivans such as the Sienna but wanted to do much better with our emissions. Then we found the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid version of the full-sized 7 passenger minivan. As a plug-in it can operate entirely on electricity and has a gas engine as backup.
1. Only game in town. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (aka PacHy) is the only plug-in/hybrid minivan. It is also the only true 3-row EV option under $40K (MSRP: From $40,245, we got our mid-range model for $38k before any credits). The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is much smaller and has less range. All the other 3-row options are luxury SUVs costing tens of thousands more and none have the space of a PacHy.
2. Free money. PacHy has a large enough battery and range to qualify for the full $7500 federal EV credit. So get it while you can.
3. Free miles. The MLP’s Bring Your Own Charger Program will give you ~3000 miles annually for free if you charge during off-peak hours. Not to mention all the free charging stations around including Whole Foods, Wegmans and our favorite, the Museum of Science!
4. 30-35 mile all-electric range, which is plenty for driving in and around Wellesley and enough for a roundtrip to Boston.
5. It’s electric 75% of the time. After six months of ownership with 5453 total miles driven, 4073 have been electric. So it has lived up to our hope of mostly emissions free driving. We go at least 2-3 months between visits to the gas station. Because we don’t want the gas to get “old” in the car and we end up using so little, we usually only fill half a tank at a time. Other owners have reported going 6 months on a single full tank.
6. No range anxiety. As a plug-in, it switches to gas when you run out of juice. In hybrid mode it averages 30MPG which is still much better than most 3-row SUVs and minivans whose MPGs are in the low 20s.
7. No special wiring needed. It comes with a level one charger that plugs into a regular 110v outlet that takes ~13 hours for a full charge. Our 1937 house would have needed an expensive upgrade to have enough amperage to accommodate level 2 charger (such as those needed for a full EV like a Tesla). This is also a consideration for people who live in large complexes where they can’t easily install a level 2 charger.
8. Put your in-laws in the third row. Unlike most 3-row SUVs, adults can actually fit comfortably in the third row. Getting in and out is much easier due to the sliding doors and being lower to the ground. This is great if you have elderly parents.
9. More space than a Suburban. The PacHy has 140 cubic feet of cargo space compared to 122 for a Suburban, 88 for a Tesla Model X and 84 for a Honda Pilot.
10. Awesome dump mobile. Take out the two middle seats and fold down the third row for enough space to transport a 4x8 piece of plywood or large pieces of furniture.
11. Less maintenance. Regenerative braking means much less wear on the brakes. Less frequent oil changes since it is mostly in EV mode.
12. Rock star parking at Whole Foods.
For more info, check out this long term review from Autoblog.