2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited long-term test: Irish-twin mpg showdown

May 31, 2017

Minivans aren't beach-body types and fuel-economy talk doubles down as birth control.

When we picked up our long-termer in Dallas and drove to Denver, the empty stretches of plains had our minds wandering to chaste matters.

Our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited had a near-twin last year, months after it was released in the form of a battery-hybrid, plug-in version. In Denver, our Pacifica Limited now had a date to meet its digital double. 

We liked the gas-only Pacifica so much that we named it our Best Car to Buy 2017, but the Pacifica Hybrid was left off the list due to limited availability. Early drives on our long-term Pacifica  netted just under the claimed combined figure? How much better could the hybrid version do?

When we finally found a hybrid in our clutches, we didn't let it go until it danced with the gas version.

The route

Our determined path found us winding through exurban Denver and south toward Colorado Springs—a family-first kind of town, we've heard. We were properly equipped—The Car Connection's Senior Editor Andrew Ganz and me—to roll through rural highways, mild- to moderate-traffic jams, interstate jaunts, all with a fresh blanket of Colorado spring snow nearby.

We topped off both tanks and noticed the cap-less fuel necks had minor differences. The Pacifica Hybrid had a fuel-door release button near the door handle, our Pacifica didn't. Aside from cursory questions about the engineering required to fit one minivan with the required electrical hardware and not the other, we wondered: what gives? The explanation from a Chrysler spokeswoman was clear and concise: The Pacifica Hybrid is a zero-emissions vehicle in the eyes of John Q. Law, which requires the locking cap to better control hydrocarbon vapor. The explanation seems legit. What about the lack of an integrated garage-door opener in the Pacifica Hybrid? Check back next year, says Chrysler. Fair enough.

In addition to topping up the gas tanks, we also topped up the tank of electrons for the Pacifica Hybrid.

Our 90-mile loop included exurban stop-and-go to 55 mph, higher speeds, and a notoriously busy interstate back home. In short, none of the stoplight grand-prix duty that keeps hybrids in their sweet spots.

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