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The year was 1983. Ronald Reagan was president. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album topped the charts as the compact disc (CD) revolutionized the industry. Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi ruled the box office and the first minivan rolled out of the factory at Chrysler.
It looked like a van and drove like a big car. That may not sound like much in 2019, but in 1983 choices had to be made. If you wanted the convenience of a van, you bought something built on a truck chassis. Station wagons were holding down the fort, but even the largest wagon was a compromise if you needed maximum cargo space and room for more than five adults. Built on the popular Chrysler K-Platform, think Dodge Aires and Chrysler LeBaron, the 1984 model year Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager sat changed the rules entirely.
Looking at history it only makes sense that the same manufacturer that delivered the first minivan would produce the industry’s first electrified model. As hybrid vehicles continue to grow in popularity, pointing to an electrified future, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid leads the charge (pun intended).
Powered by Technology
Powered by a V-6 gasoline engine and an innovative dual-motor eFlight electrically variable transmission, the Pacifica hybrid is powerful and efficient. Fuel economy is rated at an impressive 82 MPGe. Plug it in and with a full charge, the Pacifica has a range of 32 miles without using a drop of fossil fuel. Fill up the gas tank, drive perfectly and you’ll see 520-miles worth of road before you need to coast into a gas station.
The technology behind Chrysler’s Pacifica Hybrid is the game changer. The 1984 Caravan would likely wonder if the late model hybrid was designed using alien technology. The eFlite transmission features two electric motors which are both capable of driving the vehicle’s wheels. Not only is this efficient, but the result is smooth authoritative acceleration and immediate power when you need it for passing or entering busy highways.
Drives Like a Car (a really big one)
Launched for the 2017 model year, the Chrysler Pacifica sits on an all-new platform. Improvements across the board have yielded better handling, reduced noise levels and a ride that enhances both sportiness and comfort.
The minivan formula combines car-like driving dynamics with van-inspired interior appointments. The Pacifica Hybrid excels in both categories. The cabin is spacious with room for up to eight passengers. Seating is comfortable in all positions. The driver’s cockpit is well-designed and provides excellent access to the vehicle’s controls and view of the 7-inch full-color driver information display.
We are long-time fans of Fiat Chrylser Automobile’s Uconnect infotainment system and the available version found in the Pacifica is the best example yet. In our review vehicle, the dashboard-mounted 8.4-inch touchscreen is joined by two 10-inch seatback mounted touchscreens. Operating the system is relatively easy and the options list continues to grow year after year. Smartphone integration is relatively seamless thanks the Pacifica’s standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and available 4G Wi-Fi.
Chrysler Pacifica’s standard audio includes six speakers and Active Noise Cancellation. However, considering the availability of dual 10-inch screens, it makes sense to round out the rolling theater experience with one of the two premium audio systems. Consumers can opt for a 13-speaker Alpine system or go all-in with a 20-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system.
Safety technology is also abundant with more than 100 standard and available safety and security features. Highlights include parallel/perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and a 360-degree Surround View Camera.
It’s a Van Inside
SUV owners will argue that they have everything a minivan has, but the low cargo floor area found in minivans is the game changer. Offering 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space with all the seats in use and up to 140.5 cubic feet with both rear rows folded, the Pacifica holds its own in the cargo department with all but the largest gas-guzzling SUVs on the market.
The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid starts at $40,245 plus destination charges. Our nicely-equipped Limited model had a sticker price of $50,800, including a $1,495 destination charge.
The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid’s comfortable interior, long list of technology features and ample cargo space make it a fantastic family vehicle. Add in the 520 mile range, excellent fuel economy and stellar driving dynamics and the Pacifica is arguably the perfect cross-country trip vehicle. Turns out the only minivan option in 1984 remains one of the best options in 2019.
Chris Brewer is an automotive writer and photographer living in Northeast Florida. Chris is a regular contributor to numerous automotive magazines and founded Jacksonville Car Culture, an automotive lifestyle firm that runs Jacksonville’s Cars & Coffee. Chris also works as the director of communications for The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, a world-renowned automotive event and two-time winner of the International Historic Motoring Event of the Year award. He also has a doctorate degree from The Institute for Worship Studies.
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