The best mini­van

Price is the only com­plaint about this hy­brid mini­van

StarMetro Calgary - - TELE­VI­SION - Dan Ilika Au­

The mini­van mar­ket is shrink­ing at a steady pace, and buy­ers are still averse to the idea of re­ly­ing on al­ter­na­tive fu­els to get around, but this new ver­sion of the Paci­fica could be the best peo­ple-mover on the mar­ket. It’s also one that just so hap­pens to burn less fuel than a Honda Civic does on the high­way.

My week be­hind the wheel saw the ve­hi­cle con­sume 16 litres of gas over 400 kilo­me­tres of driv­ing — re­turn­ing an in­cred­i­ble com­bined average of 5.2 L/100 km. Bear in mind this be­he­moth weighs 2,262 kg.

More amaz­ing still, I trav­eled a greater dis­tance on elec­trons (238 km) than I did on fos­sil fuel (165 km).

De­spite a some­what dis­ap­point­ing elec­tric-only range (53 km), the Paci­fica Hy­brid is ex­traor­di­nar­ily ef­fi­ciency. Its gas en­gine has been com­bined with a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion that fea­tures a dual­mo­tor elec­tric drive sys­tem, as well as a 16-kWh bat­tery pack.

With a to­tal range of roughly 900 km on a full charge and a tank of gas, most folks will barely burn any gas dur­ing the daily com­mute with reg­u­lar charg­ing, in­stead stick­ing to a diet of noth­ing but elec­trons un­til the bat­tery is de­pleted.

Whether in the muf­fled whir of hy­brid mode or the near si­lence of all-elec­tric driv­ing, the ride qual­ity is about as smooth and com­pli­ant as a large lux­ury sedan. The hy­bridized Paci­fica rolls over road im­per­fec­tions like they’re barely there.

The Paci­fica packs enough room for seven peo­ple and their stuff. Sec­ond-row legroom stands at 992 mil­lime­tres, while the last row still gets a re­spectable 929 mm. There’s 915 litres of space with all seats up­right, while fold­ing the third row into the floor opens up 2,478 L. Re­mov­ing the sec­ond row re­veals an epic 3,979 L of space.

Only avail­able in two leather­lined trims, the only gas-elec­tric mini­van on the mar­ket leaves lit­tle to be de­sired in terms of crea­ture com­forts. Tri-zone au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol and an 8.4-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem are both stan­dard. The in­te­rior is thought­fully de­signed, with clever lit­tle cub­bies and cran­nies for ev­ery­thing from a smart­phone to an um­brella.

The Chrysler Paci­fica Hy­brid might be not only the best mini­van I’ve ever driven, but also the best plug-in hy­brid. I can’t think of a bet­ter way to move a fam­ily.

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