When the Pacifica debuted as an early 2004 model, Chrysler wanted it to be unlike anything else on the market. Developers sought a vehicle that didn't conform to the traditional proportions of a car, sport utility vehicle or minivan, yet featured the best attributes of each. Chrysler branded the Pacifica "simply cool and classy."
Equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6, Pacificas could have an on-demand all-wheel-drive system or front-wheel drive that included traction control. The vehicle's six seats were arranged in three rows of two each.
For 2005, a new entry-level five-passenger model joins the Touring and Limited editions. New Touring options include rear parking assist, 19-inch chrome-clad wheels and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Bold body creases serve as character lines to decorate the Pacifica's sides. A wide stance makes the vehicle look low and stable, and horizontal lines serve to stretch its profile.
A large, familiar eggcrate grille with tapered sides holds a new rendition of Chrysler's winged badge. Fog lamps sit low in deep holders. Riding a 116.3-inch wheelbase, the Pacifica measures 198.9 inches long overall.
Engineers adapted the five-link independent rear suspension, which features automatic leveling, from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. A power sunroof and power liftgate are available.
Six people can occupy three rows of seats. Chrysler promises "first-class" seating in the first and second rows, and the seats can be heated. Second-row buckets have fold-and-tumble capability and include a full-length console and seat-mounted armrests. A 50/50-split folding bench goes into the rear. Cloth upholstery is standard, and leather is available. The new base model seats five and is equipped with a 65/35-split folding bench in the second row.
Power-operated memory-adjustable pedals are installed in the Limited. A navigation system with a small screen mounted in the instrument cluster, a video entertainment system and Sirius Satellite Radio are available.
Under the Hood
In Touring and Limited models, a 3.5-liter V-6 produces 250 horsepower and 250 pounds-feet of torque. A four-speed-automatic transmission incorporates AutoStick for manually selecting gear changes when desired. The front-drive base model uses a 215-hp, 3.8-liter V-6.
Antilock brakes and an airbag in the driver's side knee blocker are standard. Side curtain-type airbags protect occupants in all three rows of seats.
Solidity and stability highlight the Pacifica, which takes fairly high-speed curves with only modest body lean. On good roads, the ride is smooth and easy — close to minivanlike, with rarely a harsh moment but a sizable dose of tautness. Steering is accurate with very good feel and a rather light touch.
The Pacifica is exceptionally quiet most of the time, but it suffers some engine blare under hard acceleration. Acceleration is strong enough, but not stirring. Chrysler's automatic transmission occasionally downshifts curtly when pushed at lower speeds.
The seats are well contoured, nicely cushioned and seem virtually as high as a standard chair but have short bottoms. The flowing-look instrument panel is appealing, but the huge speedometer with a red-tipped pointer isn't the easiest to read at a glance.