An 80 miles per gallon minivan is coming

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-18 21:05:42-05

SAN DIEGO -- San Diegans are still paying top dollar for gas, despite a 12-day decline.

Right now, the average is $2.91 a gallon. 

But a new minivan could keep commuters away from the pump, for weeks a time. 

"Between walkers and wheelchairs, literally, we needed the minivan just so we could even go to the grocery store," said University City resident Gwen Rousseau.

She bought a minivan to help her wife and mother, both disabled, navigate San Diego. And she has no complaints about her 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan.

"It's easy to park, easy to get around,” Gwen said.

And it’s easy to spot.  But there is one thing people with big cars say could be better.

“We would always want better gas mileage,” Gwen said.

Gwen's Caravan gets an EPA estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city.

But later this year, Fiat Chrysler will release a Pacifica minivan that could get more than four times that -- an estimated 80 miles per gallon around town.      

The new minivan will be a plug in hybrid, meaning it will go 30 miles on a charge before switching to a gas engine. In San Diego, the average worker commutes 22 miles a day.

“You can basically drive for free,” Gwen said.

The average American drives about 13,500 miles a year.

At $2.91 a gallon, the hybrid minivan could save drivers more than $2,100 dollars a year.

But the technology can be pricey, and even with tax credits, it can take some time before someone actually saves money.

Gwen says she paid about $28,000 for her caravan, but she'd be willing to go as high as $36,000 for such better mileage.

“If you're going to save that much money on gas, then I think it would be totally worth it,” she said.

Fiat Chrysler is still mum on the price.

But if it's any indication, the base Chrysler Town and Country, which is being phased out, currently starts at just under $30,000.

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