Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited: Rants and Raves

Got one! Pretty happy with it too, so far. Figured I should write about it. Hence, this page.

This page will be run like the EV lease deals and EV discounts pages - quick updates, sort of a stream-of-consciousness format with date stamps so folks following along can easily discriminate what's new and what they've already seen. I guess we could call it a journal.

This journal is divided into five sections for now - Latest Updates, Current Discounts, Purchasing Experience, Real-World Fuel Efficiency, and Driving Impressions. If' you're revisiting, check the Latest Updates section for an indication of where you might find new info.


Latest Updates

11/28/18 - Current Dealer Discounts - Updated for November, with 38 dealer offers across 17 states!
6/23/18 - Current Dealer Lease offers
12/27 - Real-World Fuel Efficiency - Using the "Charge/Power"screen to minimize ICE use
11/25 - Purchasing Experience - Finally found the time to write the whole story!
11/22 - Driving Impressions - Just a couple of thoughts to start off, more to come.
11/22 - Real-World Fuel Efficiency - Riverside trip: 43 miles all-electric, 29.8 mpg in hybrid mode.


Current Dealer Discounts

11/28/18  - Huntington Beach Chrysler in CA is at the top of the list again with a discount of $7985. South County Chrysler and Champion Chrysler tied for second at exactly $7K. Rounding out the top five are two more California dealers, Hoblit Chrysler and Clovis Chrysler, both with discounts in the upper $6000 range. Just missing the top five this month is Ourisman Chrysler in Maryland, which is the best discount found outside of The Golden State.

Average discount on this list is up to $4417, which is $343 more than when we checked in August, and almost $1700 better than January. Current count is 38 offers across 16 states.

Pacifica Hybrid discounts will be updated on a monthly basis. Please post below if you find any published deals that should be on this list. Thanks!!!

Current Dealer Lease offers

6/23/18 Update  - Back in January/February, Nissani Chrysler in So Cal was the first dealer to offer a discounted lease offer on the Pacifica Hybrid, but it wasn't very enticing. Then in March that started changing, and we now have eight dealers on the radar for our Lease Offer Page. The factory offers improved significantly through April and May, in concert with increased TV ads (at least in the Los Angeles Area). Then in early June, Chrysler seemed to have switch to promoting the Pacifica gasser during local news broadcasts, and the factory lease offer and dealer lease offers reverted back to impractical levels. This week, Rydell brought back their awesome lease deal, so maybe things will be turning around soon. Stay tuned, time permitting I'll try to plot all this stuff for you...


Purchasing Experience

Our 2018 Pacifica Hybrid, with Matt from AutoNation Chrysler
I bought ours in the last week of October, just when dealer inventory of Pacifica Hybrids seemed to be exploding with 2018 models. Earlier in the month it looked like everything was in transit, then by Halloween most of the dealers had at least a few in stock. Some, like Rydell, actually had more Hybrids in stock than ICE Pacificas. A few dealers started to publish discounts… Rydell started off at $1000 off, then after a week or so it increased to $2500. Glendale Chrysler and Champion Chrysler were at MSRP on their website for most of October, then Glendale got into the game at $2000 off. South County Chrysler up in San Jose is was at almost $3000 off MSRP, but they were over 300 miles away from home. Knowing that discounts on average were on the rise, it seemed prudent to wait a few months before trying to buy one.

Well, turns out I didn’t wait… got a 2018 Pacifica Hybrid Limited just hours before my wife's birthday, that was my deadline. Cheapskate that I am, she almost got a refurb Acer touchscreen laptop with an i7 processor from Fry's, but I knew the Pacifica Hybrid would make her much happier. I was right. Happy wife, happy life, right?

So it was sort of an impulse buy, but I think I did my due diligence given the circumstances. You see, my wife really wanted to take ownership of a white GLE350 that the Mercedes dealer loaned us for a month while her beloved B-Class Electric was having its Tesla drive unit troubleshot, and in the end, replaced. I only wanted to get a GLE if it were the plug-in, so I went back and forth with the Mercedes dealer for over a month trying to get a white GLE550e lease for under $700/month, tax included. They came really, really close – I actually said yes at one point – but when my wife noticed that 2018 Pacifica Hybrids were starting to show up on dealer lots, I got curious and ran numbers on fuel and maintenance costs for the two. Buying a Pacifica Hybrid Limited would be much cheaper to own and operate for four years, even at MSRP, than a leased GLE550e. So I stopped considering the Mercedes and started calling Chrysler dealers.

Negotiating for a white 2018 Pacifica Hybrid Limited was straightforward enough. Started with a call to Rydell, who confirmed that the $1000 discount shown on their website was still available on a white one.  I said I was looking to get it for $47K out the door, which was about $4000 off. They didn’t budge, not even a counter-offer.  I contacted three other Valley dealers, and all said that they’re selling at MSRP, but they would meet Rydell’s published offer. I told each of them that I’d take the day off of work and buy the car if they would take $47K out the door. No bites. Lots of emails and texts in the following days from each of the dealers, though. I responded to each dealer a week later, after noticing that Rydell improved their published discount to $2500. This time only one of the other Valley dealers would match Rydell’s offer, the rest laid silent. But neither Rydell nor the other dealer would meet my $47K offer.

On the day before my wife’s birthday, I called Rydell and asked if they would take $48K out-the-door (about $3K off), and if so, I would be heading to their dealership that night to get my wife’s birthday present instead of to Fry’s for the i7 laptop. They stood their ground at $2500 off. Then just for kicks I checked the inventory at Valencia Chrysler, and saw that they just got a white 2018 Hybrid Limited in stock that wasn’t there a few days prior. I contacted them and said that Rydell is at $2500 off, and said if they’d give me $3K off I would close the deal that night. They offerd to match Rydell. I responded that for $2500 I’d just go to Rydell since they’ve been great to work with during the whole negotiation process. Then Valencia came back with $2650 off. I asked Rydell if they'd counter-offer. They did not, so I asked Valencia to get the white Hybrid Limited ready for delivery; $2650 off was a go.

Matt at AutoNation Chrysler in Valencia was awesome. He was very accommodating, responsive and willing to help with the reveal of my wife’s birthday present. It ended up not being a surprise gift after all; at the last minute I thought it best to make absolutely sure that she would like the car before committing almost $50K to buy it. Before swinging by home to pick up my wife, I coached Matt on what she was looking for. He was prepared, pointing out all the safety and convenience features that were important to her. He knew the ins and outs of all the features of the Limited trim – and there are a lot of them. Paperwork to seal the deal was painless, and despite a number of cars being sold by the dealer that night, I was driving the Pacifica home in no time.

So, what was my plan if Valencia hadn't gotten a white Hybrid Limited just in time for my wife's birthday? I was planning to show up at Rydell with my $48K out-the-door offer. If we were still at an impasse after we met eye-to-eye and both invested precious time in a test drive and paperwork, my wife would have that refurb Acer i7 laptop, and a new vehicle would have to wait. Since we were going to San Jose for a marching band competition anyway, one option was to squeeze in a visit South County Chrysler to get one at $4K off, then trailer it home since we would have made the trip up in my Ram truck. But with everything going on during that two day trip, the logistics would probably have been a nightmare. The more likely option would have been to wait a little longer for a So Cal dealer to publish a $4K discount. The wait would not have been long, because by Thanksgiving, Champion Chrysler in Downey was offering $3500 off on 2018 models, which I would have figured was close enough, and would have called Rydell to see if they could match Champion's published offer.

Of course that's all moot since I didn't have to resort to Plan B after all. I am glad we had the Pacifica Limited Hybrid for our first two out-of-town trips with the marching band; parking the Ram at home and taking the Hybrid instead saved us over $100 in fuel costs. And it's a much more comfortable, safer vehicle than the aging truck. Oh, and as far as a laptop for my wife, she doesn't know it yet but she's getting a new Dell touchscreen i5 laptop for Christmas, thanks to Best  Buy's Black Friday sale. Not an i7, but it's $150 less than that Acer at Fry's, still way faster than her current laptop, and it's not a refurb.  Happy wife, happy life, right?


Real-World Fuel Efficiency

10/28/17 -  On day one of service (Thursday) we got over 30 miles of electric only on a full charge, shuttling between home, school, and the grocery store. Ended the day with 5% charge left.

On our trip to a band competition in San Jose today, we got a bit over 29mpg on the 300-mile trip from LA, starting with a full charge and keeping up with the fast lane traffic at 75-80mph. Reaches 92mph pretty effortlessly when passing, apparently. Not sure what the top speed is yet. I don't really want to find out.

Got 21.3mpg in pure hybrid mode (0% charge)
10/29/17 - Fueled up and reset the trip odo on Friday night after checking into the hotel. Did not recharge. Yesterday we drove around San Jose,to/from the band competition and to/from Wal-Mart to pick up provisions for the drive back home to Los Angeles. I'd say we did about 70% freeway, 30% city driving. After a total of of 28.6 miles driving, the trip computer indicated that we achieved a fuel economy of 21.3mpg in pure hybrid mode.

EPA Highway Fuel Economy Test, from
10/30/17 - Averaged 26.4mpg on the trip back to Los Angeles from San Jose yesterday. Worse than the outbound leg, as expected, since we started the return trip with 0% charge. Contributing to lower efficiency was higher speed... the fast lane going home on the I-5 was pretty much over 80mph between Highway 152 and the Grapevine. So overall, we averaged maybe 27mpg while covering about 650 miles over the past 3 days, after depleting the initial charge. That's much less than the 32mpg EPA combined rating on Again, this is expected due to the higher speeds sustained during this trip. You can see in the graph of the EPA fuel economy highway test cycle that test never exceeds 60mph, and averages about 48mph over 10 miles. As they saying goes, your mileage may vary.

Our next out-of-town trip with our Pacifica Hybrid will be in mid-November for another marching band competition. A shorter trip, from LA to somewhere in the Inland Empire. Speeds should be much lower so fuel economy should be higher.

11/6/17 - Last week was the first full work week that
we've had our Pacifica Hybrid. Like the three minivans that once served in the family fleet, this too is called "The Mother Ship". It's my wife's daily driver, and as such it never strays more then eight miles from home, as the crow flies, on any given weekday, and is used primarily to shuttle the boys to wherever they need to go, which isn't far. The two rarely require over thirty miles of chauffeuring in one day. Hence, I thought for sure that with my wife driving and me plugging it in for her every night, the Pacifica Hybrid wouldn't burn a single drop of unleaded on Mondays through Fridays. So I was a bit surprised to see that the V6 fired up for about 9 of the 130 miles my wife drove last week. The problem is that the boys' schools are at the top of a hill, via a road that climbs a 250-foot elevation gain in less than a mile, with two stoplights on the way up. As lightfooted as my wife is, she still couldn't prevent the ICE from kicking on when accelerating uphill from a dead stop, and unfortunately there's no way to manually set an EV-only mode. No complaints, though... after all,50mpg during in-town driving is over three times better than the MPV and two Seinna minivans we used to have.

11/22/17 - Last Saturday was my son's last marching band competition for the season, a championship tournament out in Riverside. About 180 miles round trip. Fully charged and fueled, we ran all-electric for a little over 43 miles. Max speed on the freeway was about 70 mph, using the Pacifica's adaptive cruise control to keep with the vehicular flow in the middle lane for the most part, until we hit stop-and-go traffic in Pasadena. Contributing to the higher than anticipated EV range while traversing the foothills along the 210 freeway was a net elevation loss of about 500 feet over those 43 miles.
     For the remaining forty or so miles to Riverside, the Pacifica Hybrid achieved an expected 31.5mpg at speeds hovering close to the posted speed limits.
    Anxious to get home after the competition, we sifted through fast lane and HOV traffic that scooted along at over 75mph. Coupled with the net elevation gain of 500 feet, fuel economy during the 134 miles in hybrid mode averaged 29.8mpg.

12/27/17 - I reported in my 11/6/17 log entry that despite her sub-30-mile commute, my wife seemed to be burning gas daily because of a hill she needed to climb to get to the high school. Well, I took a few runs at that hill myself and found that the Pacifica Hybrid could make the ascent using electricity only, and it didn't entail crawling up the four- to five-lane, 50mph road at half the speed limit. Achieving the speed limit and beyond was entirely possible without firing up the ICE. I was even able to accelerate briskly from one of the stoplights, just had to keep an eye on the power meter.
     I talked to my wife about it. Apparently she's been ticked about how other parents, usually in luxury marques, fly up the hill in the right lane and cut her off before their lane ends. Says it seems to happen more now that she's driving a minivan instead of a Mercedes. She mentioned that one day she raced some kid that was trying to cut her off. Asked if she won, she said yes. Asked what the kid was driving, she said "Dunno, some rice rocket that makes a lot of noise". I laughed. I'm kind of proud of her, I think.
     So I figured I'd use her as the subject of an experiment. One day when I was driving I showed her the "Charge/Power" screen and told her to watch the light blue arc and the dark blue arc, explained that the dark blue arc appearing under the light blue meant we were wasting gas. "Okay... So what?", she asked, sarcastically. I was a little annoyed because I knew she knew what I was getting at. I paused, then told her that if she ever wants to keep the Pacifica in stealth mode, just back off the throttle when the light blue arc approaches max power. I also mentioned that keeping the needle on the power meter under 50% seems to achieve the same result.
    Two weeks later, she was driving the Pacifica as a pure electric on a daily basis.


Driving Impressions

11/22/17 - Okay, so far I have are a couple of random thoughts to share, here goes:
  • This thing rides low for a minivan, or at least it seems to. More like a car than a crossover or SUV. Not as low as a Gen 1 Volt, but the driving position does feel closer to the ground than our B-Class ED for some reason. It's been a number of years since I've driven a Sienna, but I do remember both Siennas we leased in the past had a driving position akin to a first gen Highlander, RAV4 EV or CR-V. Not that being low is a bad thing. I think it gives the Pacifica a sportier feel... it's not a little tipsy like a RAV4 or Sienna. I am a bit wary about the Pacifica's ground clearance, though - there is air dam that sometimes hits the apron going up to our driveway. Didn't even know it was there until one day I heard a horrible scraping sound that is all too familiar to Gen 1 Volt drivers. Now when I drive the Pacifica I slow down for dips that I normally blow though at speed in the RAV4 EV and B-Class ED. 
  • Is this thing really a Chrysler? The V6 is silky smooth, so even in hybrid mode the Pacifica feels much more refined than any other Mopar I've driven. Transitions from electric to ICE are seamless, much less apparent than in a Gen 1 Volt or the original Highlander Hybrid. Besides our Ram 1500, the only other Mopar I've driven recently was two summers ago when we had a Town and Country rental for a week in Honolulu. Although a very capable performer, I remember it being subpar compared to the Sienna when it came to handling and NVH, particularly during hard acceleration. The Pacifica is definitely an improvement.  

Check back for more updates!