The Chrysler Pacifica was introduced in 2016 as a replacement for the Chrysler Town & Country, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the Pacifica Hybrid was launched. As a model that only has a couple of years under its belt, the Pacifica is still relatively fresh on the market and is one of the few minivans that are still in production for the U.S. Market. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Chrysler has managed to create its own little niche of sorts, as the Pacifica Hybrid – the model you see here – is the only hybrid minivan on the market. That means it doesn’t have any prerequisite standard to live up to and is responsible for setting its own standard. With it competing against non-hybrid minivans we have actually been very curious about how well it stacks up against the less-sophisticated competition.
Is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid really worth buying in terms of fuel economy, comfort, and value? Is it a worth competitor for the new Honda Odyssey or nearly decade-old Toyota Sienna? Well, we managed to score a week with the Pacific Hybrid, and we set out to answer these questions and more. Here’s what we learned after spending a week with the market’s only hybrid minivan.
2019 Mercedes V300d - Driven
Mercedes pitches the V-Class (known as the Metris in North America) as a cavernous van that can cater for both people and cargo carrying duties. And because it is a Mercedes, the passenger versions can be specced up to an almost unbelievable level, with comfort and luxury features you’d normally associate with the brand’s flagship S-Class sedan, or one of their other top-tier models.
The V-Class was recently lightly facelifted, but the refresh is so light that it’s clear Mercedes thought it was already quite good as it was. On the outside, the facelift only changed the front bumpers you can have on your V, depending on which version you opt for, as well as four all-new wheel designs that range in size from 17 to 19 inches - that’s it.
But Mercedes wasn’t sloppy in its effort to improve the V-Class (which in its third and current generation was introduced in 2014) and it mainly concentrated on improving its interior. For Europe, Mercedes swapped out the older 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel available in several states of tune, replacing it with a new (and better) 2.0-liter that is just better in every single way.
My tester was a V300d, motivated by the new four-pot oil-burner in its most powerful guise, in Avantgarde trim and with the AMG Line pack fitted on. The latter transforms the look of the big V, especially since it swaps out the front bumper for a sportier looking one that is as aggressive as on any other AMG pack-equipped Mercedes. Essentially, it adds an AMG pack-specific grille and AMG pack-specific rims (in this case seven-twin-spoke 19-inch rims that have a silver-black two-tone finish and they really match the vehicle’s silver paint).
Photography by Andrei Nedelea
2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept EQV
The Mercedes-Benz Concept EQV is a vehicle that previews the company’s upcoming all-electric passenger van. Based on the existing V-Class production model, the EQV is part of Mercedes’ recently introduced EQ brand, which currently includes the EQC crossover. The production model is set to break cover at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
Part of the EQ family of all-electric crossovers, the EQV follows in the footsteps of the Concept EQ, Concept EQA, and EQC. The second EQ show car to become a production model, the EQV doesn’t have a unique design language like the EQC. The concept is heavily based on the V-Class van and adds only a handful of new styling features, mostly inspired by the EQC, to the front fascia. But the good news is that it will become the first premium van with a seating capacity of up to eight people that features an all-electric drivetrain.
2019 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition
It was not just Mazda which brought an anniversary edition model to Chicago Auto Show.The MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition might have stolen the limelight, but Chrysler and Dodge have launched anniversary editions of their minivans as well. Perhaps, they went unnoticed because they are humble minivans and not some fancy roadsters. Oh, automotive enthusiasts, thou art mean.
2018 Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Cargo
Volkswagen is reviving the Type 2 Transporter Delivery Van of the ’60s with its new I.D. Cargo Buzz Concept which was presented at the IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hannover, Germany. As a sibling to the I.D. Buzz it uses the same MEB platform and will come as early as 2021 with a variety of battery options to suit anyone and everyone’s needs.
Update 11/27/2018: The Volkswagen I.D. Cargo Buzz Concept is making it’s auto show debut here in Los Angeles, so we’ve finally got a real good look at it. Check out our review below to see all the new pictures.
2018 Volkswagen California 30 Years Special Edition
Volkswagen celebrates the 30th anniversary of its sun-chasing California campervan with a special edition model of which only 999 examples will be built with a choice of three engines. The 30th anniversary Californias will be priced at $83,570 in the U.K.
Originally, Westfalia was the company that converted a variety of Volkswagen vans for use as mobile campers - which were known as VW Californias. This tradition dates back to 1988, but it all ceased in 2001 when Westfalia was bought by Daimler-Chrysler. From that point on, Volkswagen manufactured their own campervans with help from the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles arm.
2018 Renault EZ-GO
Renault has been big on the whole EV self-driver thing for the past few years now, pulling the sheets on several SYMBIOZ concepts back in 2017. The EZ-GO is the latest follow-up, offering the same drivetrain and autonomous tech as before, but with an extra dash of shared mobility services and connected features to boot. The result is a vision of the future of urban mobility, promising improvements to both energy efficiency and quality of life.
Continue reading to learn more about the Renault EZ-GO.
2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Mercedes-Benz has debuted its third-generation Sprinter van in Duisburg, Germany, appropriately at a portside warehouse. This marks the first all-new Sprinter since 2006 and represents a huge leap forward for the utility vehicle. The van sports a new exterior design, a classy interior with touches from the E-Class, and Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system that recently debuted at the 2018 Consumer Electronics show. What’s more, the Sprinter is going electric with the eSprinter variant. Preliminary specs say it uses a 41.4 kWh battery pack with a range of roughly 100 miles.
The Sprinter has enjoyed a very successful run since its introduction in 1995. The van is currently sold in 130 markets and has a lifetime sales figure exceeding 3.4 million. Just last year, Mercedes sold 200,500 Sprinters globally. The new 2019 model replaces the aging second-generation Sprinter, which has been around since 2006. Unfortunately for the U.S., the new Sprinter won’t arrive until late 2019, likely making it a 2020 model.
Continue reading for more information.
Though the badge says “Hybrid,” the important thing to know about the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid right off the bat is this: It’s actually a PHEV. You plug it in, and it runs on electricity for the first several miles of your day.
As I found during a week at the wheel of the electrified minivan, if you have the right commuting or parking situation, you might find yourself using little or no gasoline.
It’s noteworthy Chrysler is the first automaker to put a PHEV minivan on sale in America. For a brand with only three models in its showroom nowadays, this was an even bigger home run than the non-hybrid Pacifica that birthed it. The hybrid takes a great, competitive minivan and makes it truly special — even buzzworthy.
Best of all, it’s the kind of plug-in vehicle that just makes sense for a huge number of families. It’s not much more expensive than any comparably equipped competitive minivan, yet it gets an EPA-estimated 84 MPGe. It’s remarkable because the Pacifica Hybrid squeezes that kind of efficiency out of a big, practically sized, attractive family hauler instead of a small, weirdly styled car wrought with compromises.
After spending a week with the Pacifica Hybrid, I find myself hoping I see a lot more of them on the roads — and hoping FCA has the good sense to adapt this powertrain to other vehicles we might not normally associate with hybrid efficiency. Chrysler 300? Ram 1500? Jeep Grand Cherokee? All have the potential to be transformed into segment-changing vehicles if they can incorporate the Pacifica’s hybrid system.
2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept
From the maker of some of the most bizarre vehicular creations in recent automotive history, Rinspeed is back at it with another, well, futuristic offering. It’s called the Snap Mobility Concept, and its name doesn’t do enough justice to what exactly it’s capable of doing. No, there’s no garden growing inside of it like the Oasis Concept from 2016, but it does have a chassis that can connect to different cabins, or “pods," as Rinspeed likes to call them.
The whole concept isn’t at all different from how trucks can carry different trailers, but the Snap Mobility Concept takes that approach on an entirely different level because an entire cabin can be removed and replaced with another, resulting in a concept that’s not at all too different from the Surus platform concept that General Motors unveiled earlier this week. Rinspeed’s whole objective with the concept is to reduce congestion and pollution in crowded cities, so it’s no surprise that the Snap Mobility Concept is completely autonomous and runs on a fully electric powertrain. The actual details and figures are still being withheld though rest assured, there’s a lot more to this concept than meets the eye. Keep an eye out for it when it makes its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2018.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept
2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package
There you are – sitting in the parent pick-up line at the kids’ elementary school. You’re looking at the never-ending row of gray and silver SUVs, crossovers, and sedans. You feel trapped – stuck in a rut of perpetual boredom fed by routines and complacency and made worse by cookie-cutter transportation. You need to escape this automotive purgatory. But you’re a good parent and know you can’t shuck the responsibilities of chauffeuring your brood to and from their various activities. What’s the solution? The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat or Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk? No, those are just overkill on horsepower and underwhelming on people room. No, you need space. You need seven or eight seats. You also need vogue styling. You aren’t the average PTA parent, after all. Well, Chrysler has a solution. Meet the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica S and its murdered-out S Appearance Package.
For the 2018 model year, the Pacifica can be had with the S Appearance Package for an extra $595. It’s available on the Touring Plus, Touring L, Touring L Plus, and the Limited model. It’s blacked-out theme spans from its black paint and Gloss Black accents to its 18-inch wheels in a hue called Black Noise. Tim Kuniskis, head of Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat, said, “The Chrysler Pacifica definitely stands out in the school drop-off line, and its class-leading style has won over many new customers. The Pacifica’s S Appearance Package takes that style to the next level and offers our customers yet another unique personality that further differentiates Pacifica from the rest of the segment.” Kuniskis is right about that – no other minivan offers such a blacked-out appearance package.
Continue reading to learn more about the Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package.
2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser
Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.
Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.
Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.
Continue reading for more information.
2017 Renault Symbioz Concept
While there’s certainly no shortage of automakers out there offering visions of our inevitable all-electric autonomous future, Renault is one of the few that’s actually taking the idea into new, unexpected directions. For example, what if your car could integrate with your home as a spare room, a smart electric energy grid, and a mobile multimedia center? It’s called the Symbioz, which is a play on the word symbiosis, and it was recently on display alongside a full-size model home at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Renault frames it as a vision of things to come in the year 2030, offering passengers a chance to “enjoy a cabin that feels like home and has been designed for autonomous motoring. On the road, the car becomes an extension of the home. When parked inside the home, it doubles as an extra mobile, modular and multi-purpose room,” adding, “The car is complementary to the home and also an extension of it,” finding common themes of “major architectural design choices, common materials and styling.”
Indeed, Renault is the first automaker to bring a full-size home to a car show, but it goes a long way to proving a point. The Symbioz project brought together “designers and engineers, academics and architects, startups and sociologues,” all in the name of finding out how to make the most of upcoming technologies. Interested in learning how your car could become an integral part of the Internet of Things? Read on for the details.
Continue reading to learn more about the Renault Symbioz.