Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!
Time for a long-overdue update on Baymax. It’s been an eventful 2023. In the spring he was swiped by another vehicle in a parking lot, necessitating a debut trip to the bodyshop for work on the rear offside door and wheel arch (below left). Suffice to say, my opinion of the autobody repair industry didn’t go up. Everything took an inordinate amount of time and the Pacifica returned with a new scratch (clear-coated over, below right) that wasn’t there when we started. We couldn’t bring ourselves to be without the car for another week or two to get that fixed as well so for now it remains as a permanent battle scar.
In June, I was able to spend a few days in a new plug-in hybrid, the Mazda CX-90. It’s great to see another PHEV on the market, especially a three-row SUV. The CX-90 has a classy cabin and is good to drive for such a big car, with better powertrain refinement than the Pacifica. But at 42km (26 miles – claimed but not achieved) I thought the Mazda’s electric driving range was disappointingly small and the configuration of the drivetrain – which incorporates a traditional shifting automatic transmission – takes away the seamless feeling you get when the Pacifica Hybrid or a pure BEV accelerates.
Our main summer vacation involved flying not driving, so the PacHy didn’t rack up as many kilometres as in some years. We did however drive down to beautiful Waterton Lakes National Park for our annual camping trip and were glad to again charge the battery overnight at the site. An extra passenger this time meant we had to break out the Yakima roof box to accommodate more gear than normal, reminding me just how much I love those Stow ’n Place roof bars. We had recently had the garage floor resin-coated just beforehand, so the car returned to a shiny new home!
In August came a fix for the 03A Loss of Motive Power recall, which as you doubtless know by now involved software updates to the power inverter, instrument cluster and powertrain control module. If you’ve yet to have this done, allow for at least a full day. After our vehicle was initially booked in for one day, work on the car didn’t start until the afternoon, leaving insufficient time to complete the software update before close of business. We needed the car back that night so everything was rolled back to the initial state and Baymax returned to Crowfoot Dodge a few weeks later to have the new software uploaded. We’ve had no side effects since, so that appears to have been taken care of.
After averaging 5.3L/100km for the summer months, comprising 4,000km on electric and 1,600km of gas running, the winter tires went on as normal come October, on the same day that we had an oil change and brake service performed. It was around this time that we first noticed a couple of new issues with the car. One is that the tailgate-closing warning chime now wails like an alley cat. Definitely going to need a new part! The other is that our GPS unit has permanently lost our true position. Apparently, we’re now living in Vulcan County, about an hour south of Calgary. A quick look at the forums suggests we’re far from alone in this issue. Whether the solution proves to be a reset, a new chip or a whole new Uconnect head unit, remains to be seen.
Finally, we performed some cosmetic surgery on Baymax during the summer, adding a bunch of extra stickers to the tailgate in honour of places we have visited as a family. I know some owners prefer an uncluttered look but, just like our tacky fridge magnets, I think the stickers somehow make the Pacifica more ‘ours’!
Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!
In October 2022 our PacHy received its Z11 recall fix. Like other owners of 2017-18 Hybrids, we’d received the interim notice in February, notifying us of a fire risk in the area of the high-voltage battery and advising us not to plug the car in, and to park it away from buildings.
This was a hopeless state of affairs for a car whose USP is its ability to recharge from a home socket and use the resulting electric power every day. With no immediate remedy in place, we elected to fit a smoke detector to the garage and carry on regardless. I am not suggesting that recall notices be ignored; we just balanced the perceived risk with practical considerations and, at a time of especially high gas prices, cost.
No change in behaviour from the car was experienced in the intervening eight months. Finally, notice arrived that the fix was available, so I booked the car into Crowfoot Dodge for the update to be implemented. If you’ve not had it done yet, the remedy is a reprogramming of the drive battery’s control module to avoid the conditions that potentially precede fire, bookended by a draining and charging of the pack, which is also inspected and, if deemed necessary in rare cases, replaced.
If you’ve yet to read the Recall Z11 Resource Guide lodged by Stellantis with NHTSA in the USA, I’d suggest doing so before you book your recall appointment. It contains a number of dealer best practices and suggestions; I’ve reproduced some of them here:
Perhaps US customer service standards don’t apply in Canada, but it will perhaps come as no surprise to anyone that I didn’t experience many of the best practices on this list. In particular, the car was booked in on a day when another recall fix was taking place – and thereby occupying the only available charging socket – leading to a two-night stay instead of the advertised one (in fact when I made the appointment, there was no mention of an overnight stay at all). The document even goes on to state that, “It’s critical that appointments adhere to the estimated repair timeline (1 car per EV charger per day), to ensure Z11 customer appointments do not overlap.” D’oh! I wasn’t offered a loan or rental vehicle to bridge the gap.
A further section of the guide talks about the Chrysler Commitment Checklist, which notes that vehicles should be returned with a full charge (yes), full tank of fuel (no) and that customers should be offered a complimentary exterior wash (also no). Lucky US Pacifica Hybrid owners also receive a two-year oil change/filter and tire rotation package as a goodwill gesture.
Again, I don’t expect to receive a level of service to which I’m not entitled. I’m just highlighting that there seems to be a gap between what’s deemed appropriate for US customers and how those north of the border are treated. In my case, I’d coincided the switch to winter tires with my recall appointment (I find the winter wheels too heavy to fit myself), but still had to pay for them to be swapped. In the circumstances, failing to wave that measly $40 feels like missing a customer-goodwill open goal.
A week after the control module was updated, we returned to the car one evening to be greeted with a ‘Service Charging System’ message on the driver’s display. The car wasn’t plugged in at the time and had been fine when we parked it up a couple of hours earlier. Baymax summoned his inner tortoise and kicked into limp-home mode for the first time since we’d owned the vehicle. It may have been a coincidence, but it was odd that this happened so close to the recall fix.
We drove slowly home and left the car unplugged overnight after checking the charge port for damage or debris (none that I could see). The following morning, the tortoise had disappeared from the display and the car accepted a charge without issue. I spoke to the dealer who advised coming directly in for service if the problem recurred (they’d need to run diagnostics while the check-engine light was still on) but I’m writing four months after the event, and it’s been fine ever since. If anyone else has experienced a similar warning after the Z11 recall fix, I’d be interested to hear from you. Thanks for reading!
The well documented backlogs in processing travel documents during the summer of 2022 led to a last-minute change of plan for our main vacation. Goodbye four economy tickets on WestJet, hello four international seats in Pacifica Hybrid Limited class and a new plan to drive from Calgary to San Diego.
Our previous BC adventure had been the furthest we’d taken the PacHy to date, but Baymax would now face a journey of more than double that length – and its first trip over the border into the States. A prior commitment meant no sightseeing stops on the way down, just long days of 10 or more hours on the road, plus stops for fuel and food.
After an early start from Calgary, we descended through Montana to break the journey in Pocatello, Idaho. From there we stayed on the I-15 into Utah, cut the corner of Arizona, waved to Vegas as we traversed Nevada and motored on into California. We paused for a second time in Barstow before completing the final few hours into San Diego, just 20 miles (32km) short of a full, top-to-bottom navigation of the western USA.
Coming home, we strayed from the ever-present I-15 to see the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and meander through Utah’s spectacular canyon country, including the incredible Scenic Byway 12. We can’t recommend that road enough, regardless of what you’re driving.
Along the way, the fully laden Pacifica shrugged off steep grades in Montana and sweated in 42+°C (108°F) as we skirted Death Valley. Long days in hot sunshine pushed the AC to the edge of its effectiveness, but the only lasting damage was to a front wheel when I carelessly clipped a curb while turning.
The frequent fill-ups and differing state fuel standards gave me the chance to experiment with different grades of gasoline, but with accompanying changes in temperature and terrain, I couldn’t prove conclusively that one delivered better economy than the next. We recorded 7.1L/100km (33mpg) overall, which is what we’ve come to expect from hybrid-running on the highway – very welcome during a period of unusually high gas prices and even more impressive considering the car cruised for thousands of miles at 70mph/113km/h or above, full of people and gear. I’m sure there are other vehicles out there that could do the same job just as efficiently, but not many.
We didn’t go out of our way to find hotels with chargers every night, mostly because with such long distances involved – we racked up 4,063 miles (6,539km) over the course of the near three-week trip – 30 gas-free miles here and there didn’t make a lot of difference. However, the short runs and lower-speed driving around San Diego and Oceanside were perfectly suited to electric running and a couple of strategic charges from the area’s comprehensive public network gave the ICE a well-deserved break.
In Southern California especially, it was great to again spend time in a region where plug-ins and pure-EVs are much more prevalent and better supported than here in Calgary. In other ways too, Baymax seemed right at home on US roads: a quick switch in the settings to imperial units set us up for the local traffic signs while the navigation system switched more frequently than usual to the colourful, detailed view of upcoming highway intersections.
A couple of weeks after our return, we booked the PacHy in for an oil change, brake service (always good to keep the underused friction braking system clean), new air and cabin filters and a general once-over. It seemed the least it deserved for facilitating such a memorable trip. More next time!
Welcome to spring! After what seemed like the longest of winters – here in Calgary we were still getting snow in early-May – it feels great to have warm air at last, leaves on the trees and, of course, uninterrupted electric running for the Pacifica Hybrid.
Baymax recently checked into Crowfoot Dodge for an oil change and a switch back to the alloy rims and Nexen all-seasons. As usual, I then reset the trip. Despite the prolonged cold weather, we still managed to average 5.5L/100km (43mpg US) through the winter and early spring. Overall average fuel consumption since we took ownership nearly two years ago now stands at a very respectable 4.6L/100km (51mpg US).
With no issues to report with the car, I thought I’d use this post to talk about another electrified vehicle with which we recently spent time.
On a trip back to the UK I was able to borrow a BMW iX xDrive50 for two weeks of driving around the country visiting family and friends. It’s a two-row SUV, about 235mm shorter than a Pacifica Hybrid but with about twice the power and a huge, 106.3kWh underfloor battery pack that provides up to 507km (315 miles) of range – a figure we can corroborate.
It was our first time as a family relying on an EV as our only car (previously we’ve always had a gas-powered car in the house at the same time) and it was an instructive experience. This’ll be news to no one, but the recharging infrastructure is crucial. The large battery capacity saw us through a week on the Isle of Wight, where the three fast-chargers were all out of action simultaneously (and with a battery that large and no home base, you really want a fast-charge option). Back on the mainland however, there were plenty of chargers when we needed them, and an excellent in-car navigation system to guide us to them.
The iX itself is supremely well developed, with the most futuristic interior of anything I’ve driven and outstanding ride quality that belies its 2,566kg (5,657 lb) mass and 22in rims. At around C$115k/US$100k, it’s out of most people’s reach and won’t save the planet on its own, but as a showcase for how accomplished an EV can be, it takes some beating. It’s worth mentioning, too, that BMW’s record on sustainability and ethics in supply chain and production is something to which all auto makers should aspire. Head to TractionLife for my full review.
For the time being, large SUVs like the iX are as close as we can get to an EV minivan, Pacifica or otherwise (note that Vietnamese newcomer, VinFast is bringing the three-row VF-9 SUV, shown below left, to Canada later this year). Stellantis hasn’t said whether an all-electric Pacifica is in the product plan but with the investment finally flowing, has made a number of announcements recently regarding its EV production plans for Canada. In the past month, Chrysler’s parent company has committed to modernizing the plants in Brampton and Windsor to build EVs, as well as to a battery manufacturing joint-venture with LG and two new R&D centres in Windsor.
These developments aren’t before time. When I was at the New York Auto Show in April, pretty much all the major new cars on display were EVs, yet Stellantis’ offerings were a new colour on the Airflow Concept (below right; something similar could be on sale by 2025) and the Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in. I’m sure there are plenty of PacHy owners out there, not to mention van customers from other brands, who’d consider a three-row Chrysler EV if it were offered. Let’s hope for the best! Until next time.
Hello and Happy New Year! It’s been an eventful winter so far for our Pacifica Hybrid. Back in October the Check Engine light came on and we noticed that we weren’t getting cabin heat when running on electric.
Even when pre-heating in the garage before departure, we tend to keep the cabin heater fairly low to minimize the need for engine intervention in cold weather (the heated seats seem to have a lower power draw). But we found we were getting no heat at all. It’s an issue that had been experienced by several other members of the excellent Canadian Pacifica e-Hybrid Owners group on Facebook.
After the always-helpful Crowfoot Dodge did the diagnostics, we were initially told that a new battery pack would be needed, under warranty, and would take a few weeks to source from the US. This was unexpected news and to be honest, pretty concerning, given our PacHy’s low mileage (around 17,000km at the time the fault first emerged).
Fortunately, there had been a miscommunication and the final verdict wasn’t so drastic. A faulty battery heater was causing the problem (also covered under the 10-year high-voltage battery warranty, I believe) and after a four-week wait for parts, was replaced without further issue at the end of November.
Above is a photo of the faulty part that the dealer removed. It was apparently returned to Chrysler – whether for analysis, refurbishment or managed disposal, I don't know. Warranty or not, I don't think the battery heater should be failing so early in the vehicle’s life.
The car had been spending more time than usual with the engine running but this changed noticeably after the switch, presumably because the motor wasn’t required as often to generate heat. Average fuel consumption quickly dropped as a result.
Unfortunately, we then had an extremely cold spell through late-December and into the start of January. With the temperature outside consistently at or below -25°C, our unheated garage was never going to be warm enough to keep the battery conditioned for electric running right out of the blocks. A few short journeys around town (it was too cold to go further afield!) quickly pushed the average consumption up to 10L/100km (23.5mpg), a figure that fell rapidly again when the cold spell passed.
A further side effect of the extreme cold was that the tire pressures were showing consistently to be below the recommended minimum. Short trips were insufficient to generate enough heat to raise the pressure, but again, the warning cleared as soon as the outside temperature rose.
Otherwise, there’s not much else to report. The car is running fine again now. The Continental VikingContact 7 winter tires were refitted at the end of October and have kept us mobile in the snow, ice and slush. The WeatherTech mats, which we leave in year-round, are keeping the floor clear of salt and grit. Until next time!
I’m fortunate to be able to test cars as part of my work. A few months ago this intersected nicely with the Pacifica Hybrid Blog when I spent a week with the 2021 Pacifica Pinnacle AWD.
Chrysler has shaken up its minivan offering for the 2021 model year. The venerable Dodge Grand Caravan reached the end of the line after 12 years of service and has been replaced by a new Chrysler Grand Caravan based on the Pacifica that was first launched in 2016 – the same shape as mine. Meanwhile the 2021 Pacifica gets an appealing new front end, new lights, some interior tweaks and an AWD option for the first time.
The latter development is a great weapon in the armory when trying to convince people that an SUV isn’t always the answer. Unfortunately, the drive battery’s underfloor packaging means that there’s no AWD Hybrid available, but on the plus side this was a chance for me to compare regular and Hybrid Pacificas back-to-back for the first time.
Some of you reading this will already be Pinnacle owners but this was also my first time with this trim level (Baymax is a Limited). Chrysler has certainly gone all-out for the “living room on wheels” aesthetic. The result for me was a mixed bag. Personally, I wasn’t sold on the caramel leather, but others will doubtless prefer it to the black seats in my own car. The loose passenger lumbar cushions look great but are a bit gimmicky. The Stow ‘n’ Vac is a handy addition and the combination of Uconnect 5 and Type-C USB ports definitely brings the connectivity right up to date. I prefer the older instrument binnacle though – maybe it was unfamiliarity but the Pinnacle’s dials seemed harder to read.
It might seem trivial but the biggest step up over my car is the new Ultra centre console. What I would perceive as the wasted area in and below the lower dashboard in the older models is transformed in the Pinnacle with the new two-tier setup. I’ve always felt that my car’s combination of stowage slots and drawers in the lower-central dash, plus the low-sided floor stowage bin out of which items regularly fall (not great when it’s that close to the pedals), was an area ripe for a redesign. The new Ultra console rectifies this by integrating with the lower dash and providing a higher flat area on which to place your phone, keys, whatever, while retaining a lower pass-through storage area. It’s not necessarily a much bigger space, just a more usable one.
The kids noticed a change in the second row, too, where the central stowage drawer now pulls out by an additional 64mm (2.5in). We found that especially handy when it came to them reaching for drinks. There are new apps on the Uconnect Theater screens – chess was a particular favourite – and parents of younger kids will appreciate the FamCAM rear-seat monitor.
It was interesting to spend a week with the gas-only AWD powertrain, whose installation appears to come with no obvious penalty to the car’s practicality. I immediately missed the electric’s instant response and torque, and somehow the on-centre steering feel wasn’t as good, either. Official figures show the AWD drivetrain uses around 14% more fuel than the FWD gas model and more than twice as much as I average with the Pacifica Hybrid. I got overall consumption of 11.5L/100km in a week of mostly city driving in the Pinnacle AWD, which is lower than the 14.1L/100km official combined figure. I certainly didn’t relish having to fill the tank again at the end of the week!
I’m sure AWD will be attractive to some buyers though, especially if you live down an unpaved road or near steep hills that prove problematic on snow or ice, even with winter tires fitted. The Pacifica AWD is not a serious off-roader but the 20mm (0.78in) of extra ride height over the FWD car, which is just about visible in the comparison photos I took, combined with AWD traction, should prove useful in the right conditions.
Would I swap my PHEV for the Pinnacle AWD? I think you know the answer to that, but I recognize that it’ll be a good solution for others. I’d absolutely look at an AWD PHEV though, providing there wasn’t a major compromise to the load space. As it is, Toyota’s Sienna Hybrid is the only AWD minivan in the market right now that doesn’t guzzle the gas. Until next time!
Welcome to the latest update, hope you’ve had a great summer! With overseas travel still restricted, we took the opportunity to hit the road in Baymax for our main summer vacation. In mid-July we left Calgary on the long drive through the Rockies to the Pacific coast, breaking the journey overnight in Golden, British Columbia and thankfully avoiding any wildfire-related road closures along the way.
This was the type of trip we had in mind when we bought a car with generous space to travel long distances in comfort and without much restriction on the cargo we could take along for the ride. As such, we were able to load up with our tent and other camping gear for use once we reached Vancouver Island after a few days in downtown Vancouver.
Almost from the moment we left Calgary, the trip underlined how Alberta lags behind EV adoption and infrastructure development in some other parts of Canada. There were far more Teslas on the roads of metropolitan Vancouver than you’ll see in Calgary, with plenty of Hyundai Kona EVs, Nissan Leafs and others too. That’s no doubt related in part to the BC provincial purchase incentives that have not been replicated in Alberta, with the result that auto makers have hitherto concentrated their limited Canadian stocks of EVs and PHEVs in incentivized markets.
We didn’t go out of our way to keep the battery charged – the Pacifica Hybrid isn’t fast-charge capable and in our rush to pack for the last-minute trip, we left our charging cable at home! But as you can see below, we were able to use the free Parks Canada EV parking/recharging spots in the centre of Banff for a quick top-up while we had dinner, and recharge overnight in the basement parking lot of our Vancouver hotel. It all helps.
The long highway stretches offered plenty of time to monitor the PacHy’s fuel consumption. Over 3,000km of mostly city driving through the spring and early summer, we’d averaged 4.4L/100km (53mpg US), but I reset the gauge on departure. For the just under 1,000km (621 miles) from Calgary to Vancouver, the car managed 6.4L/100km (37mpg US), spending more than a third of its time on electric power (descending those long mountain passes is great for regen!). Consumption increased slightly over the course of the two weeks, running almost exclusively in hybrid mode, but I still thought that a trip average of 6.9L/100km (34mpg US) over 2,957km (1,837 miles) was a great return for a big car, fully loaded.
Incidentally, I correlated the in-car consumption gauge with a calculation from our actual quantity of gas bought (202L/53 gallons US), and the figure was spot-on.
Safe to say that fuel savings aside, the Pacifica Hybrid made for a fantastic companion on our trip. This was by far the furthest we’d ever driven it – after a year of going nowhere much, we increased the car’s overall mileage by about 25% – and it was flawless. The quietness and comfort on those long highway stretches was very welcome and the kids were kept entertained by the Uconnect Theater screens. Meanwhile the trunk swallowed everything we threw at it while still leaving decent rear visibility.
We were in and out of the car a lot during our time camping in Chemainus, BC, not least because the food had to be kept out of reach of the wildlife. In a bid to avoid disturbing our neighbours, I discovered that the warning chime from the closing tailgate can be disabled through the Settings app. While in that menu I also realized that the remote door unlocking can be switched to a single press of the fob for all doors, which is handier than multiple presses in my opinion. It was a reminder that I still have lots to learn about this car.
The mileage accumulated on the BC trip took us into range for the 12-month service, so on our return to Calgary the Pacifica was booked into Crowfoot Dodge. The standard service included the usual oil and filter change and tire rotation, as well as a refill of the fuel injector cleaner and moisture-removing chemical in the fuel tank. I agreed with the dealer’s recommendation of an alignment check and I also requested a cabin vent filter change and a brake service. The latter cleans away debris and corrosion and lubricates the calipers and sliders. For an extra C$130, I think it’s money well spent, given the potential for problems arising from the Hybrid’s less frequent friction brake usage.
Please look out for my next blog soon, where I’ll be taking a closer look at the new Pacifica AWD. Thanks for reading!
Welcome to the latest update from sunny Calgary, where there are signs that the green shoots of recovery might soon apply not just to our snow-battered flora but also to our daily lives!
Having recently received my own shot of life-restoring formula, at the start of May it was time for Baymax to receive his as well. An end to the cold winter temperatures coincided with reaching 8,000km and the first scheduled oil change. I booked the car into Crowfoot Dodge Chrysler, which provided its usual efficient service. In addition to a new fill of super-low-viscosity 0W20, they ordered and fitted the PDC cover that had been noticed as already broken when they applied the recalls in September last year. The selling dealer should have covered the cost but unsurprisingly flaked out, so I stumped up the C$50 myself.
Crowfoot also swapped the summer wheels and tires back on to the car for a small fee. I’ve done my own tire swaps for many years, but the size and weight of the Pacifica’s 18in tire-rim combo makes this trickier to achieve with my amateur garage setup and average physique, so I was happy to let the pros take care of it. The car looks a whole lot better with those sleek alloys back in place, for sure.
Reinstalling the all-seasons and a temperature consistently back above 7°C were also my signals to officially mark the end of winter driving and reset the trip. We wound up with final numbers of 5,456km (3,390 miles) covered since late-October, of which 3,659km (2,274 miles) were on electric for an overall average of 5.4L/100km (43.6 mpg US). Pretty happy with that, even though the consumption would have been higher if we’d been able to travel further afield in a non-Covid situation. As it was, trips to the mountains for skiing were about as ambitious as it got.
The expiry of our current home energy deal provided the opportunity to investigate electricity prices and with them, the cost of charging Baymax at home. A survey of home energy usage from our supplier, Enmax, estimated that based on current mileage, around 6% of our monthly energy cost goes towards charging the Pacifica – about C$20 per month, using the average bill price from the past 12 months.
I wanted to get a bit more specific though, so here we go. Under the new deal, the price of electricity per kWh went up slightly from a fixed rate before tax of C$0.0549 to a still-low C$0.0599. The PacHy’s battery has a nominal capacity of 16kWh but usable capacity is thought to be no more than 13kWh, so our cost-to-charge now comes in at around C$0.82 including tax. For that we’re getting about 50km (31 miles) of running in summer, perhaps 35km (21 miles) in winter.
By way of comparison, a non-hybrid Pacifica officially gets 10.6L/100km (22.2 mpg US) on the combined cycle. If it’s thus using 3.71 litres to do 35km (10.6 / 100 x 35) at a gas cost of C$1.10/litre (roughly the average local price this past winter), then the equivalent cost of energy to one full charge of electricity is C$4.08 (3.71 x 1.10). Dividing our winter electric mileage of 3,659km by 35 and multiplying by 4.08, we can say that we saved at least C$427 in gas through the winter – most likely much more, given that official economy figures are rarely matched in cold weather. None of these numbers will be 100% accurate of course, but they make for interesting ballpark figures!
We shouldn’t forget that an electrified vehicle is only as green as the electricity that powers it. In the absence of large-scale renewables here in Alberta we choose to pay another C$5 a month to offset 300kWh of electricity, which equates to around half of our domestic usage (including the car) in the winter, more in summer. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.
If the weather holds and the restrictions permit, we’ll be taking Baymax on our first camping trip of the year on the May long weekend. More on that in the next update. Thanks for reading!
With the snow melting and the temperature hovering at a tropical 5°C (41°F), life in Calgary feels a whole lot better than during the extreme cold snap we endured in February.
A couple of weeks consistently below -20°C (-4°F) were enough to convert our e-Hybrid back to a regular gasoline Pacifica for almost all of the time, even after preconditioning the cabin and battery before leaving the house. As such, our winter average fuel consumption increased to a seasonal high of 10L/100km (24mpg US), but with warmer weather now established, we’re back below 7L/100km (34mpg US) and still falling. It’ll soon be time to reset the computer for spring.
Since the last update, Baymax has delivered his first expensive repair bill, albeit through no fault of the car. Stone chips are an inevitability on Calgary’s gritted winter roads but unfortunately, we took a shot to the driver’s side window, which produced a sizeable crack. Our dealer, Crowfoot Dodge Chrysler recommended GlassMasters autoglass, so the car went to have the pricey replacement pane fitted. It took just a little over an hour and the service was great, although I’m not convinced the seal is quite as good as before. There seems to be more wind noise, but I need to assess it for a while longer because we’ve had such high winds here lately!
In February I also had the opportunity through my work to test the 2021 Toyota Sienna. The new model is only available with a hybrid powertrain, making it the PacHy’s closest rival in the minivan market, if not a direct one. Its exterior makeover has raised a few eyebrows – for me, the Pacifica still has a classier look – and it now rides on the same TNGA platform as the RAV4, Highlander and other Toyotas. My test vehicle was an XSE, which is ostensibly the sporty option, with 20in rims (FWD only) and a firmer suspension tune.
Personally, I didn’t feel that there was very much about it that was sporty, nor is there any need for a van to feel like a sports car. In fact, I missed the Pacifica’s excellent on-centre steering feel and the instant torque of the e-Hybrid. But the Sienna is still a very good vehicle. I especially liked the longer-travel second-row seats, which open up useful flexibility to maximize passenger space or cargo volume, and the practical storage options between the front seats. Here's a link to the full review.
In the first week of March, we reached 5,000km (3,100 miles) since we bought the Pacifica, which seems to be a good moment to reflect on the ownership experience so far. It’s still relatively early days, but we’ve no major complaints. It’s good to drive, it’s been reliable, and the kids love it. They’re especially happy that our 3-month free trial of Sirius XM was recently and inexplicably reactivated! I’ve become a huge fan of the silent running and I’ve not missed filling up at the gas station in cold weather.
Fuel-wise we’ve put a total of 216 litres (48 gallons US) into the car to cover those miles, which coincides almost exactly with our first six months of ownership, giving an average gasoline consumption of 4.3L/100km (55mpg US). That’s a great figure through a winter, although the numbers are slightly skewed given that we covered more miles – and therefore took greater advantage of battery-only running – when the weather was warmer.
Thanks for reading and see you next time.
It’s the middle of winter here in Calgary but we’ve mostly escaped Arctic conditions so far, with the temperature hovering around freezing on many days. The weather’s biggest challenge to mobility came on December 22nd, when we received about a foot of snow overnight, resulting in the predictable stuck buses, suspended postal deliveries and deserted malls just a few days before Christmas.
It also meant that our Pacifica Hybrid was temporarily immobilized for the first time. Our quiet residential street isn’t routinely plowed and the sheer depth of snow on that first morning was too much for Baymax’s ground clearance, regardless of tires. Our Subaru Impreza just about scrabbled its way out to pick up a poorly scheduled Click-and-Collect order from the supermarket but even the 4x4 diesel truck in the house next door to us was struggling, so I didn’t feel too bad. Buying a car is a series of trade-offs and we knew that deep snow would be one scenario that a FWD minivan might not handle. That doesn’t make it the wrong vehicle for the other 364 days of the year.
It’s three months now since I reset the PacHy’s trip computer with the onset of the first cold weather. Since then, it’s averaged 6.7L/100km (35mpg), mostly through short errands around the city, plus a couple of longer runs out to the mountains for skiing. That figure is down on the warm-weather average, as expected, with electric-only range dropping from around 47-50km (29-31 miles) to about 35km (22 miles) as the car copes with additional demands on its power, like keeping us warm, and winter tires with higher rolling resistance.
The increase in fuel consumption and decrease in battery range are not ideal but not a disaster, either. I don’t see any other vehicles here in North America that match the Pacifica Hybrid’s capability for the same fuel numbers, and certainly not at this price point, although I’d expect the new Toyota Sienna Hybrid to get close. More on that in a future post.
Thanks to the useful advice on the Canadian Pacifica e-Hybrid Owners Facebook group, we’ve got into the routine of using electricity from the grid to warm the plugged-in car before journeys. All it takes are two presses on the Start button without pushing the brake pedal, or two clicks of the key fob’s remote start button, about 10 minutes before departure.
An appropriate app with a warm-up function – as is available for many EVs and some other vehicles – would be a useful addition. The only official app for a 2018 PacHy is the Uconnect one, which doesn’t offer this type of function, although it has some features for Uconnect 5-equipped 2021 hybrids. Please get in touch if you have additional info or suggestions.
The warm-up routine does go a long way to minimizing IC engine use on short journeys, witnessed by a drop in overall fuel consumption since we started doing it. Of course, the engine still might need to fire to warm the car and battery up when you return to it after it’s been parked in the cold, as well as for the periodic ‘Fuel and Oil Maintenance Mode’. This latter scenario can be particularly damaging to average fuel use if you don’t undertake a journey long enough for the sequence to complete, as the car will keep on trying to run the cycle on each new journey. It took a longer run to the mountains for our Pacifica to get this out of its system.
Thanks for reading. Stay warm, stay healthy and drive safely!
I've been writing about other people's cars since 2003; I thought it was about time I wrote about my own! 'Baymax' is our 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid here in Calgary, AB. Polite comments are welcome; offensive language will be removed. Thank you!