Been reading the forum for a couple of weeks now and what a great community this is. I've been able to find most of the answers to my questions.
Looks like my family is growing and we're probably going to have to ditch the MDX for the space afforded by a minivan. I quickly narrowed the list down to the Odyssey Elite and the Pacifica Limited. But after reading about the PacHy, I'm very intrigued about the combination of electric power yet fun to drive nature (for a minivan).
A couple of questions that I couldn't easily find answers to:
1. Exactly what happens when the battery is completely drained? Can I expect a loss in available power?
No loss in power as it switches to ICE operation when it runs out of battery. The only caveat is there have been a few claims it is not seamless and the start up of the ICE is noisy. There is a Car and Driver long-term test that references this. It's worth reading since they were not overly impressed.
One thing C&D didn't mention was the improved driving of the PacHy over the gasser. While the added weight of the battery does it no favors in overall numbers, the added torque from a standing start is quite nice and it definitely would seem like a better performer than the ICE version, at least from a stand-still. This is the same for all EVs since, unlike an ICE, all the torque is available from rest. It's the reason diesel locomotives power an electric motor.
Likewise, they failed to mention the better feel of the transmission. With the ICE (and not just the PacHy), the latest multiple speed transmissions have a bad habit of hunting around for the best gear. It's not bad, but the PacHy has a transmission that operates completely differently and is definitely smoother. It's kind of like a CVT without the detriments of that transmission.
2. How bad are the halogen headlights really? (Compared to the regular Pacifica Limited?). Will I need to DIY upgrade?
You won't need
to upgrade; the PacHy halogens are fine. While LEDs are nice, one of the detriments of LEDs is you tend to get a lot of oncoming traffic flashing their brights, thinking you've got your brights on. Having automatic high-beams helps in this area, too, although the sometimes constant switching between high and low beams is annoying.
With that said, I can't quite figure out why LED headlights are standard on the gasser Limited, but not on the hybrid Limited. In a podcast with Chrysler engineers, one of them mentioned that the hybrid is based upon the lowest standard Pacifica 'L'. Maybe that's it. Another similar (very minor) quibble is the gasser gets a glove box light, while the PacHy does not.
3. Is there an expectation the PacHy will be updated for the 2020 model year?
Any significant changes are unlikely. The big news for 2020 will be the addition of Jeep hybrids (Cherokee).
For the PacHy, my guess would be maybe the addition of LED headlights on the PacHy Limited, along with minor color additions/deletions, although there has been speculation that a AWD version of the Pacifica might be offered. But, like the hybrid, that would likely involve the removal the popular Stow n'Go seating to get enough room for the AWD system. There's even the possibility that AWD would be added
to the hybrid version with the rear wheels being powered by electric motors. But, man, that's surely going to drive the price to an even higher level.
Another possible change for 2020 is the ability to toggle between battery and ICE operation. As it now stands, the PacHy always goes to whatever battery power is available first, then when depleted, switches to ICE. You cannot force one over the other like, say, the third year (and newer) Chevy Volt. This comes in handy to 'save' the battery for urban driving while using the ICE for highway travel.
So, for 2020, besides the typical new colors, maybe:
1. LED headlights.
2. EV/ICE toggle.
Besides losing Stow n'Go for the traction battery, the other big negative mentioned by most is the inability of the PacHy to tow (the 600lb battery lowers the load capacity to a total of 1100 pounds for passengers and their cargo). The biggest issue really isn't the inability to tow, it's that it's a difficult process to add a trailer hitch (particularly a factory installation) to use for carrying bikes which would keep the load capacity within the 1100 pounds maximum.
If the lack of Stow n'Go and towing (including just to carry bikes) is important, the PacHy is probably not for you. But if you can do without those two features, the ability to avoid using gas for a majority of your driving is a significant attraction.
One final word: it appears that the Toyota Sienna is due for a major overhaul for 2020 to keep up with the FCA and Honda minivans. Besides being the only one to (currently) have available AWD, it's been rumored that there will be a hybrid Sienna, as well.
Personally, I'd rather have had a Toyota hybrid (even one that wasn't a PHEV) and, if you're not in any particular hurry (it won't be available until at least the end of this year), you might want to wait to see if it actually comes to pass.