Hybrid, interior are new 2024 Pacifica features

John Gilbert

Having recently written about the 2023 Chrysler/Stellantis Pacifica van, I was less than enthused about getting a 2024 Pacifica, which looks pretty identical from the outside — but looks all-new from behind the steering wheel.

And including the steering wheel! 

I’ve long been a critic of how a lot of Dodge/Chrysler vehicles appear to be using pre-1970 steering wheels, while the design and integration of high-tech controls into modern steering wheels is truly a positive feature of competitors’ designs.

So for the 2024 model Pacifica, it has a modern, contemporary steering wheel, pleasantly thick to grip and with remote controls for some technology features within fingertip reach.

When you look past the steering wheel, you are impressed with the new, attractively designed information screens, to house the gauges and for the center stack, which includes all the vital features from radio to climate to vehicle settings to cell phone commands. The seats are also all new, covered with Nappa leather  on the first and second-row buckets.

But the most impressive new feature to me is the fact that the test vehicle — officially a “Pacifica Select PHEV Premium S Appearance” — is a plug-in hybrid. Primary power for the vehicle is Chrysler’s dependable 3.5-liter dual-overhead-camshaft V6, and it is connected to a battery pack that can recharge itself in the “traditional” method of using regenerative braking to bolster the battery pack.

The beauty of a plug-in hybrid system is that while you can get some good recharging by stepping on the brake, you can plug it in with the included device and its connector cable hook-up, and get a better, full charge. That frees you up to use electric-only driving for about 30 miles, which is enough to get to work and back, or take the kids to soccer or hockey practice and back, without using any gasoline.

Impressive, you say? Yes, but also the most disappointing thing about the Pacifica PHEV. It turns out, unlike normal plug-in hybrids, this Pacifica system will take a plug-in charge, but it won’t hold it! 

Amazingly, it is designed to fill up with electricity, and then let it escape before you can drive it as an EV. So you just drive it as though it is a normal car, or hybrid, trusting that some electricity is being recharged as you ride the brakes while coasting to a stop or down a hill.

The EPA estimates on the sticker you can average 30 miles per gallon driving it like a “normal” gas-powered vehicle, but it also makes you want to experiment to attain the advertised equivalent of 82 mpg if you had enough electric power to drive it like an EV.

The vehicle has the usual Chrysler warranty on the powertrain of 5 years/50,000 miles, but the high-voltage battery and hybrid system is warrantied for 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

None of this is noticeable while driving the Pacifica, thankfully. The sticker noticed, however, as the price of the PHEV Pacifica fully equipped is $64,205, about $10,000 more than the loaded but not PHEV 2023 model I previously wrote about.

When I checked, I was both surprised and amused to learn that under Stellantis rule, all other hybrid vehicles are either traditional or plug-in, with the only variation being the Pacifica. 

“Why?,” I hear you ask. “I don’t know!” I hear me answer.

The full complement of safety features are included on the new Pacifica PHEV, including standard stuff such as adaptive cruise with stop and go; blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert; lame-departure warning-plus; full-speed frontal collision warning-plus; pedestrian warning; rear back-up camera; rear park assist; hill start assist; remove start; electronic stability control; autostart.

But you have to go to the option bin to add: upgraded Harmon Kardon audio system with 769-watt amplifier, and 20 speakers scattered throughout the sound chamber disguised as an interior; with individual screens  built into the front seatbacks, where occupants can view Amazon Fire TV built in;  and controls for the dual-pane sunroof with its power front half.

On the large-screen information dashboard, you can adjust all these features, and on the gauge panel you can check to see how much battery juice you have remaining, and how much fuel economy you’re averaging or getting instantaneously. 

I coasted one time and got the little gauge up to 99 mpg, but for any trips regardless of range we got from 28-33 mpg.

Considering that when I looked back through my notes for the test drive of the 2023 Pacifica, I saw that we were getting 15-18 mpg with just the 3.6-liter V6. So this is a big improvement.

Maybe for 2025, we can look for a real plug-in hybrid!