What we purchased: Chrysler’s Pacifica was the perfect family plug-in hybrid, until it wasn’t

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It’s a horrible time to purchase a automobile. The world chip scarcity and a pandemic-driven demand for protected transportation has pushed costs to obscene ranges. It’s commonplace to see sellers including on $10,000 or extra in “market adjustment fees.” For most individuals, the smartest choice proper now’s to carry onto your present automobile for so long as potential. But as my spouse and I started getting ready for our second youngster, we realized we wanted a bigger automobile for carrying twice as a lot child gear, in addition to to take the occasional highway journey.

Gallery: Chrysler Pacifica 2018 | 15 Photos

Gallery: Chrysler Pacifica 2018 | 15 Photos

As a lot as I cherished my 2017 RAV4 Hybrid, it would have been too tight with two automobile seats in the backseat together with two youngsters value of drugs in the trunk. It additionally did not have CarPlay integration, which meant I needed to depend on Bluetooth audio and Toyota’s abysmal infotainment apps. (I was notably irritated that I could not even play the radio whereas utilizing Google Maps navigation.) There weren’t any rear vents for heating and cooling, both, which inevitably turned the again seat right into a furnace throughout Georgia’s obscenely humid summers. That’s a surefire option to make a toddler cranky, and it could be even worse with an toddler onboard.

Thankfully, I’ve spent the previous couple of years obsessively researching the perfect family automobile. (You can thank the pandemic and my need to tinker with new {hardware} for that.) Toyota’s hybrid 2021 Sienna taught me that minivans can truly look cool lately and get first rate mileage. I’ve additionally examined out Toyota’s RAV4 Prime, Prius Prime and the Kia Sorento, all of which have been plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) with a bit of electrical driving vary.

At first, I leaned in the direction of the up to date Sienna: I genuinely cherished our review unit, and Toyota’s reliability is famous. But it seems tons of different folks had the similar concept earlier this year. New Siennas have been promoting for $8,000 over their listing worth, based mostly on what I noticed at a number of native sellers. (Who, after all, did not inform me about these additional charges until I stepped foot of their godforsaken places of work.) And used 2021 fashions have been truly going for greater than their unique listing worth. I wasn’t about to spend over $50,000 on a used Sienna.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Then I remembered the different widespread minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It’s the solely PHEV minivan on the market, delivering 33 miles of electrical vary and 32 MPG of gasoline driving. We gave it a glowing review in 2018, and, nicely, my choices have been fairly restricted earlier this year. My dream automobile would have been a big family-sized EV, however with the Tesla Model X nonetheless far out of attain and no alternate options accessible, a PHEV merely made extra sense.

After being burned by a number of ineffective automobile sellers, I spent weeks searching by means of Carvana listings. I appreciated that they have been up entrance about additional charges, they do not gouge you as a lot as sellers and I had an important expertise shopping for my RAV4 from them in 2020. Eventually, I discovered my supreme Pacifica: a Limited 2018 mannequin with low mileage, CarPlay, a tri-plane sunroof, superior security options and a 20-speaker sound system. There was no means I was going to appear to be a cool dad in a minivan, however at the least I might have a little bit of enjoyable driving it.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Per week later, Carvana took away my RAV4 as a trade-in and delivered the Pacifica to my driveway. It was love at first sight. Even although it’s not as sporty as the Sienna or RAV4 Prime, I really like the Pacifica’s cute and quirky aesthetic. It’s as if Chrysler took the concept of a family van and processed it by means of a ’90s anime filter. Its arched LED daytime operating lights appear to be they’re winking at you, whereas the elegant physique strains give it a way of movement whereas it’s standing nonetheless.

The sheer practicality of the Pacifica additionally received me over shortly. The Pacifica’s sliding doorways made it a cinch to put in my daughter’s 30-pound automobile seat, and I appreciated having rather more room for youngster loading/unloading. Being a minivan, its trunk space was huge, even when I made a decision to have the third-row seats opened up. Those rear seats are a critical improve over mid-size SUVs, the place they’re solely meant for youngsters.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

My spouse and I additionally cherished having extra inside house usually, since we inevitably discovered ourselves buried in toddler toys and equipment in the RAV4. There’s even sufficient room for my daughter to make use of her moveable potty between the seats! Another bonus: The rear seats even have two separate video screens, which will likely be perfect for retaining the youngsters entertained throughout lengthy journeys.

Things received even higher in the driver’s seat, the place the Pacifica’s UConnect infotainment system lastly made me really feel like I was driving a contemporary automobile. The 8.4-inch display screen was brilliant sufficient to be clearly seen in direct daylight (one thing my RAV4 struggled to do), and it had a surprisingly responsive touchscreen. While I was most excited to have CarPlay integration, it was good to see that UConnect’s complete interface could possibly be personalized as simply as an iOS system.