To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles nearly a decade ago in the AAA Green Car Guide, which initially focused entirely on rating fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles.
For the 2020 edition, we're expanding the focus of the guide to include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. To further reflect this change, we've renamed the guide: It's now the AAA Car Guide. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail-for example, the latest advanced safety features, the dangers of distracted driving, and the development of autonomous vehicles.
The green cars tested by the ARC are evaluated on the basis of 13 categories: emissions, fuel economy,
crashworthiness, braking, acceleration, handling, cargo-carrying capacity, ride quality, interior noise, ease of entry and exit, maneuverability, roominess, and visibility.
The scores for the categories are totaled, and the cars are ranked from high to low.
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place SUV/Minivan
2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited
Vehicle Type: SUV/Minivan Plug-In Hybrid
Category Ranking: 1
Price as Tested:$50,005
Fuel Type: Electricity/regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 16.5
120V Charge Time: 2.8 miles per hour
240V Charge Time: 16 miles per hour
EPA City mpg: 29
EPA Highway mpg: 30
EPA Combined mpg: 30
EPA Combined MPGe: 82
EPA-Est. Electric Range (mi): 32
with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights
Advanced Safety Features
Adaptive Cruise Control [O]
Advanced Headlights [O]
Automatic Emergency Braking [O]
Blind-Spot Warning [S]
Forward-Collision Warning [O]
Lane-Departure Warning [O]
Lane-Keeping Assistance [O]
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [S]
[S] Standard, [O] Optional
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid remains a compelling choice for
minivan customers because of its plug-in hybrid capability,
which provides an EPA-estimated 82 MPGe on electric power and 30 mpg on gasoline in combined city/highway driving. The Pacifica’s drivetrain consists of a 3.6-liter V6 engine, a 16.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and two electric drive motors, giving it a total of 260 hp, up to 32 miles of electricity-only driving, and a possible 520 miles of total driving range. A strong package of advanced driver-assistance systems —included on our test vehicle—is optional on the Pacifica Hybrid. Another desirable feature is Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system; it has wireless streaming, is intuitive to use, and is paired with an
entertainment package that includes a Blu-ray/DVD player
and rear-seat entertainment screens for both second-row
passengers. Although the Pacifica comes with plenty of positive features, it does have areas that could use improvement. Chief among them are a noisy drivetrain and a mediocre driving experience—including, for the latter, numb steering and an uneven brake-pedal feel. Also, other plug-in hybrids allow the user to control EV battery usage, but the Pacifica does not.