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."
Pacificas can have an on-demand all-wheel-drive system or front-wheel drive. The vehicle's six seats are arranged in three rows of two each.
For 2005, a new entry-level five-passenger model joined the Touring and Limited editions. All models now carry Chrysler's 3.5-liter V-6. New Touring options included rear parking assist, 19-inch chrome-clad wheels and Sirius Satellite Radio. A BeltAlert system is standard for 2006. Mirrors are bigger, and can be fitted with automatic tilt-down. The glovebox is larger, too, and a new DVD radio plays MP3 CDs and audio or video DVDs.
Bold body creases serve as character lines to decorate the Pacifica's sides. A wide stance makes the vehicle look low and stable. 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.
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, of which the first two 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 base model seats five and is equipped with a 65/35-split, folding bench in the second row.
Power-adjustable pedals with memory are installed in the Limited. A navigation system with a small screen in the instrument cluster, a video entertainment system and Sirius Satellite Radio are available.
The 3.5-liter V-6 produces 250 horsepower and 250 pounds-feet of torque; last year's 215-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 has been discontinued. A four-speed-automatic transmission incorporates AutoStick for manually selecting gear changes when desired.
Antilock brakes and a driver's inflatable knee blocker are standard. Side curtain-type airbags are available.
Solidity and stability highlight the Pacifica. Body lean is substantial in higher-speed curves, as the suspension feels somewhat squishy. On good roads, the ride is smooth and easy — close to minivanlike, with rarely a harsh moment. Steering is accurate with good feel and a rather light touch, but handling is on the humdrum side, falling short of confident.
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 isn't the easiest to read at a glance.