2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid long-term review update – cold steering wheel

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Our 2018 Chrysler Pacifica, being the Limited trim, is a pretty plush place in which to spend some time, with Nappa leather seats, heating and ventilation for those seats, eight-way power adjustments for both front occupants, a heated , and seat-mounted screens for the rear. In the black and cream combo of our van, it’s a light, airy, and borderline luxurious place to be. But the steering has begun to bother us.

Chrysler calls it the “Luxury” steering wheel, and it’s exclusive to the Limited trim. It’s lovely in appearance with dark leather on the outside, light leather on the inside, and a real metal ring separating the two. Unfortunately, now that it’s become bitterly in Michigan, the metal ring is freezing our palms. And although the wheel is heated, the only parts that get warm are the leather sections. So while the rest of our hands feel toasty, each one has a slim line that stays chilled where they contact the metal trim.

In the words of LeVar Burton, don’t just take my word for it. Assistant Editor Zac Palmer was frustrated by it, too, and feels it betrays the practical nature of the minivan: “I’m a firm believer in function over form in nearly every circumstance. A minivan is the ultimate expression of function in the automotive world, but the steering wheel on our Pacifica does not follow that philosophy. The large metal band going all the way around the leather wheel nearly eliminates the benefit of the warm, heated steering wheel. Once this gets cold, it stays cold, and there’s nothing you can do except take solace in the fact that it looks pretty as your palms rest on icy metal.”

If you’re like us and dislike cold hands, the good news is that the wheel isn’t featured on the Pacifica Hybrid Touring Plus or Touring L trims. Both also offer packages with heated steering wheels and seats. Of course, skipping the Limited trim does mean missing out on a number of nice luxury features, such as the Nappa leather, 8-way power passenger seat and front seat ventilation, plus dual rear entertainment screens and a Blu-ray player. So you’ll have to weigh your priorities to determine whether this steering wheel is worth living with. And if you do have to have the Limited trim, perhaps we could point you toward some driving gloves for the winter months?

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