Electric cars

What We Bought: The Chrysler Pacifica was the perfect family plug-in hybrid, until it was gone

Chrysler Pacifica 2018

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It’s a terrible time to buy a car. the global chip shortage and pandemic demand for safe transport has pushed prices to obscene levels. It’s not uncommon to see dealers add $10,000 or more in “market adjustment fees”. For most people, the smartest decision right now is to keep your current car for as long as possible. But as my wife and I began to prepare for our second child, we realized we needed a larger vehicle to carry twice as much baby gear, as well as take an occasional road trip. car.

Gallery: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica | 15 pictures

As much as I loved my 2017 RAV4 Hybrid, it would have been too tight with two car seats in the back and two children in the trunk. There was also no CarPlay integration, which meant I had to rely on Bluetooth audio and Toyota’s abysmal infotainment apps. (I was particularly annoyed that I couldn’t even listen to the radio using Google Maps navigation.) There were also no rear air vents for the heating and air conditioning, which inevitably transformed the bench seat back in the oven during extremely humid Georgia summers. It’s a surefire way to make a toddler grumpy, and it would be even worse with a baby on board.

Luckily, I’ve spent the last few years obsessively searching for the perfect family car. (You can thank the pandemic and my desire to tinker with new hardware for that.) Toyota’s 2021 Sienna Hybrid taught me that minivans can look cool these days and get decent mileage. I also tested Toyota’s RAV4 Prime, Prius Premier and the Kia Sorentoall of which were plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) with some electric range.

At first, I leaned toward the updated Sienna: I absolutely loved our review unit, and Toyota’s reliability is legendary. But it turns out tons of other people had the same idea earlier this year. The new Siennas were selling for $8,000 above their list price, from what I saw at several local dealerships. (WHO, of cours, didn’t tell me about these extra charges until I set foot in their abandoned offices.) And the used 2021 models were actually more than their original list price. I wasn’t going to spend more than $50,000 on a used Sienna.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Then I remembered the other popular minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid. It’s the only PHEV minivan on the market, offering 33 miles of electric range and 32 gas MPG. We gave it a glowing review in 2018, and, well, my options were pretty limited earlier this year. My dream car would have been a great family electric vehicle, but with the Tesla Model X still out of reach and no alternatives available, a PHEV just made more sense.

After being burned by several useless car dealerships, I spent weeks searching carvana Advertisement. I appreciated that they were upfront about the extra charges, they don’t rip you off as much as the dealerships and I had a great experience buying my RAV4 from them in 2020. Finally, I found my ideal Pacifica: a low-mileage 2018 Limited model, CarPlay, a triplane sunroof, advanced safety features and a 20-speaker audio system. There was no way I looked like a cool dad in a van, but at least I could have a little fun driving it.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

A week later, Carvana took away my RAV4 in exchange and delivered the Pacifica to my driveway. It was love at first sight. While it’s not as sporty as the Sienna or RAV4 Prime, I love the Pacifica’s cute and quirky aesthetic. It’s as if Chrysler took the idea of ​​a family pickup truck and treated it through a filter of ’90s anime. Its arching LED daytime running lights seem to wink at you, while the sleek lines of the bodywork give it a sense of motion when standing still.

The practicality of the Pacifica also won me over quickly. The Pacifica’s sliding doors made installing my daughter’s 30-pound car seat easier, and I appreciated having a lot more room for loading/unloading kids. Being a minivan, its trunk was huge, although I decided to open the third row seats. These rear seats are a serious improvement over midsize SUVs, where they are only intended for children.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

My wife and I also loved having more interior space in general, as we inevitably found ourselves buried under toddler toys and gear in the RAV4. There’s even enough room for my daughter to use her portable potty between the seats! Another bonus: the rear seats also have two separate video screens, which will be perfect for entertaining children on long journeys.

Things got even better in the driver’s seat, where the Pacifica’s UConnect infotainment system finally made me feel like I was driving a modern car. The 8.4-inch screen was bright enough to be seen clearly in bright sunlight (which my RAV4 struggled to do), and it had a surprisingly responsive touchscreen. Although I was very excited to have CarPlay integration, it was nice to see that the whole interface of UConnect could be customized as easily as an iOS device.