By Peter Perrotta
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck … guess what? It’s a duck. Why try to disguise it?
When I see those television commercials for minivans that try and make it seem cool for the average soccer mom or dad to be driving a minivan, I just shake my head.
In recent years the minvan has fallen out of favor. So, the marketers now want to try and make it something it’s not.
Why try and pretend? It’s a minivan, aka a duck.
“Sell the sizzle”. That’s what an old car sales manager used to tell me.
What that meant to me was: don’t sell something for what it’s not. Sell the sizzle of what it is.
So after one recent week behind the wheel of the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited minivan, I must admit, there is a lot of sizzle to sell here folks.
Before we get started, though, if you are looking for the wind-in-your-face driving experience of an athletic BMW or Mercedes, this is not where you look.
Instead, what you get in the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica is a good, solid, all around, utilitarian vehicle that can be used for a multitude of transport and cargo tasks without breaking a sweat.
Moreover, if you are approaching 65 years of age – like me – it’s a very comfortable vehicle to get into and out of without bending or twisting your back. Once you sit down inside it’s tremendously comfortable.
If you are the designated driver to transport your sister-in-law, and mother-in-law and father-in-law to your son’s birthday dinner, it passes the test with flying colors.
On the other hand, is this mini-van going to turn heads when you drive down the street? Absolutely not. Is it going to afford you that exhilarating driving experience of the BMW 5 series? No way.
But, let’s face it folks, it’s not fair to criticize the minivan for what it isn’t. We must appraise it for what it is.
The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited – the model I drove for one week – is the only minivan currently on the market that is offered as a hybrid version. To make it even better, this model from Chrysler is a plug-in hybrid that can be operated as an electric-only model, with a full range of 30 miles on the electric only ride.
More impressively, when you use it as a combined electric/gas option (the vehicle switches itself back and forth on an as-needed basis) it gets a whopping 82 miles per gallon. When in use as a gas-only vehicle, it gets a still solid 30 miles per gallon.
For me, it’s hard to believe that none of the other minivan manufacturers (especially Honda and Toyota) don’t offer a hybrid version of their minivans.
I’m not sure why that is. It may be due to the fact that the minivan segment of the car selling market has shrunk drastically from what it once was about 20 years ago.
My first job in the car selling business was at a popular Honda dealership in South Jersey back in 2003. At that time, we had a waiting list for people who wanted to buy the popular Honda Odyssey minivan of about six months. Moreover, we sold every one of those Odysseys at full sticker price, with no discount.
Such is not the case these days, obviously as the once-popular minivan has fallen out of fashion favor for the much sexier and aggressive looking SUV and crossover models now available on the market.
Nonetheless, the minivan has survived. And, this one from Chrysler has won many accolades from the automotive press for being top-of-the-line in its class.
In its review of the 2020 Pacifica, the editors at Car and Driver magazine simply stated that it is “the best minivan you can buy – and better than most SUVs too.
“We like the minivan so much, in fact, that we have named it to our 10 best Trucks and SUVs list multiple times,” write the editors of Car and Driver.
Personally, I’m not so sure that I am enamored as much as they are with the Pacifica.
When I first took the wheel behind this Pacifica it instantly brought back memories to when my youngest son was 2 years old and my wife and I carted his whole world around with us in our Dodge Caravan minivan.
At that time, my parents were still alive and living in Florida, so the minivan did the job it was designed to do on that several trips a year we made to St. Augustine.
This time around, while it took me a day or two to get used to driving a minivan again, I must admit that by the end of the week I was quite impressed with the Pacifica. It’s luxurious, comfortable, practical and very useful. It’s just not all that exciting to drive.
The Velvet Red Pearl colored Pacifica Hybrid I tested for the week carries a base price of $45,845. My tester was added the extra options of: $795 for the S appearance package; $995 for the advanced safety technology group and $1,895 for the tri-panel panoramic moon roof.
When you add in the $1,495 for destination and delivery charges, the bottom line sticker price on this tester comes in at $51,025.
The EPA estimates that the average annual fuel cost of operating this hybrid comes in at a miserly $1,050 per year. Most people spend more than that a year buying coffee at Wawa.
This vehicle has not been rated by the government for the crash safety test yet.
However, this Pacifica Hybrid does receive a very impressive 10 out of 10 rating for the government’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas rating – which most people hardly pay attention to.
The interior of the Pacifica is well appointed. Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system works well, for the most part. I had some trouble with it getting to understand my voice commands, but that was the only glitch.
Overall, this Pacific, especially the hybrid version, is well worth considering if you are in the market for such a vehicle.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. Comments and suggestions are welcome. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org