Chrysler’s all-new Pacifica minivan arrives this spring touting a 10% increase in combined fuel economy, but look for class-leading numbers when stop/start technology joins the mix later this year.
The ’17 Pacifica posts EPA fuel-economy of 18/28 mpg (13-8.4 L/100 km) city/highway, up 5.9% and 12%, respectively, compared with the outgoing Town & Country that Pacifica replaces in the Chrysler lineup. The combined fuel economy of 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km) represents a 10% gain.
The highway fuel economy ties Pacifica with the ’16 Honda Odyssey, but the big jump will come on the city side of the equation when efficiency gained from stop/start operation could boost the Chrysler’s urban fuel economy to an estimated 19-20 mpg (12.4-11.8 L/100 km). The higher figure tops by 1 mpg (.04 km/L) the Odyssey’s 3.5L V-6 that incorporates variable cylinder deactivation but does not employ stop/start.
Chrysler isn’t saying what it expects to gain from stop/start operation, but estimates range from as low as 2%-4% by the EPA to 7% in real-world testing by AAA. Automakers incorporating the technology have often touted fuel-economy improvements in the 8%-10% range.
If stop/start helps the Pacifica achieve an 8% gain in city driving, that would push its city rating past 19 mpg, for an overall city mileage improvement as high as 14%, while its combined fuel economy would top 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km). Stop/start typically improves efficiency in city driving where stopping in traffic is common.
Chrysler says a plethora of changes make Pacifica more fuel-efficient, from powertrain upgrades to lightweighting efforts to aerodynamic improvements.
The minivan’s Pentastar 3.6L V-6, descendent of a 3-time Wards 10 Best Engines award winner, is now lighter and employs 2-step variable-valve lift to reduce pumping loss and cooled exhaust-gas recirculation to reduce combustion temperature and allow for a higher compression ratio. The engine is mated to a minivan-segment-first 9-speed automatic transmission.
Use of lightweight aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel contribute to a 250-lbs. (113-kg) weight reduction, while the sleek body styling achieves a 0.30 drag coefficient that Chrysler says is best among its competitors, including Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest.
Chrysler isn’t specifying when stop/start technology will roll out on the Pacifica, but promises it will precede the arrival of the Pacifica Hybrid in second-half 2016. The plug-in hybrid minivan, an industry first for the segment, is expected to provide up to 30 miles (148 km) of electric-only operation and up to 80 mpg-e (2.9 L/100 km).
Chrysler adds that when considering the overall environmental impact of the Pacifica’s fuel consumption, the minivan is 9% greener than its predecessor. The difference is based on a measure of Global Warming Potential that considers fuel economy along with the environmental impact of fuel production and delivery.
“Total environmental impact is an important metric to consider as we introduce new fuel-efficient technologies,” says Mark Chernoby, CEO-product development and head of product portfolio management for FCA’s Group Executive Council.