We’d been debating what to buy next for a long time. Ideally, we wanted AWD, minivan-size accommodation for when family visit and a hybrid or electric powertrain but checking all three of those boxes is only just becoming possible with the 2021 Toyota Sienna. About 18 months ago we got as far as test driving a VW Tiguan, which has a seven-seat option but has no more space overall than the Outback. We also liked the Kia Telluride very much, but not the fuel consumption. Meanwhile the Pacifica Hybrid had proved mighty impressive during a week-long test I did for TractionLife.com in the summer of 2018. I then read a story from a reviewer who’d coped fine with the FWD van on winter tires, so we decided to let the AWD go and find a PacHy.
Turns out, that’s easier said than done in Alberta. We couldn’t find one for sale second hand at the time we were looking. The local dealer hadn’t seen a new one for sale for nine months and his computer search found no 2020s within 1,500km. Hmm. I then hit Chrysler’s online inventory and found two ex-demo 2018s in Edmonton, a three-hour drive north from our home in Calgary. They were both Limited spec, but one had lower mileage and the optional Harman/Kardon audio, so the white one got the vote.
The dealer service was pretty disappointing. Several promises were made that weren’t kept and extra charges materialized that we had to fight to remove. When we finally picked the car up on August 31st, 2020, the tow hitch hadn’t been fitted as agreed and the warranty was a year short of what we’d been promised. It’s amazing that this stuff still goes on, but sadly, no surprise.
Back in Calgary, the newly christened Baymax (it’s big and white…that’s it!) was immediately pressed into service picking up a sizeable storage shed from Canadian Tire to house the bikes that the bigger Pacifica had required us to evict from the garage. We were pretty impressed to get the 2m x 1.1m (78in x 44in) box into the space behind the front-row seats. Being a Hybrid with second-row captain’s chairs, there’s no prospect of using Stow ’n Go to bury the middle seats under the floor, as is possible in a regular, gas-powered Pacifica, but they folded down no problem.
And so began Baymax's time with us, a family of four doing the usual work-and-school stuff in suburban Calgary, where plug-in hybrid vehicles are a whole lot less common than trucks and SUVs. I'll be posting back with updates on our life with the car: what we like and what we don't, servicing and reliability, major road trips and the rest. Coming next: our first 1,000km together. See you soon!