Chrysler Pacifica Touring AWD
interior. Stylish and bold exterior. Easy entry and exit height. Four
individual seats all very comfortable. Lots of room inside for each
person. Great mix of car, SUV and minivan.
Bad: Very little
driver feedback from the steering wheel. Slugging driving feel. Needs
better engine and transmission.
One of the first vehicles to come out of the merger of Daimler
and Chrysler was the Pacifica. The Pacifica enjoys being a blend of
minivan, SUV, and car. A great blend we might add. Inside hints of
Mercedes design are abundant. The height of the Pacifica makes for a car-like feel when entering and exiting, however seats are high enough to make the ride feel like a SUV and minivan. Individual seats in first and second rows are another trait borrowed from the mininvan. The Pacifica can be
called a large station wagon, but it is the twenty-first century now and
automakers cannot utter the word 'wagon' lately.
Led by strong sales of several nameplates,
the Chrysler Brand achieved a strong first quarter, with sales increasing 17
percent to 123,460 units. This builds on the Chrysler Brand's growth over
the last decade from 221,990 units in 1993 to more than 463,000 in 2003 (109
percent increase). All Chrysler Pacifica models are built at
DaimlerChrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
The exterior design of the Pacifica is fresh and unique from most other
vehicles on the road. From afar it may seem smaller than it actually is,
due to its sleek and slanted front end. The Pacifica's large body shape has
road presence and its overall appearance is a nice modern design, behind the
wheel it certainly feels large. Contours flow from the front to the tail
end in a very stylish manner. The length of the Pacifica is almost as large
as the Town & Country minivan we recently tested.
Step inside the Pacifica and you will notice that it is much easier to get in than in a large SUV. We loved the flowing
Mercedes-like interior design. The width of the Pacifica really can be felt
inside. Wood look trim, mixed with aluminum door handles and silver painted
trim is used throughout the cabin. The cavernous interior is elegant with
three rows of large seats bolstered for comfort and performance, with
minivan style armrests on each seat. The second row of seating is almost as
comfortable as the first row, with fully individual seats with a console in
between. They are just slightly smaller than the front seats, but still
very comfortable with armrests, reclining and sliding features. This allows
the third row of seats to have plenty of legroom if everyone slides up a
bit. The third row is also styled like a bench but is split folding with
cup holder's ala minivan style to the sides. Headroom is low in the third
row as the roof does angle downward. Getting into the third row is
difficult because you must fold and flip forward the second row of seats.
It is quite easy to fold the second and third row to make a flat floor,
however the floor will be high and so tall items will not fit. Both the
first and second row of seats have heating elements in low and high
settings. The second row also has its own fan adjustment for sending more
air in the rear compartments. Even the third row has vents for airflow on
the floor of the Pacifica.
Up front in the driver's seat, controls are all nearby. We
liked the elegance of the compartment with its flowing design. The ignition
is located on the dash and not in the steering column. We loved the
Mercedes style power seat adjustment buttons in the shape of a seat on the
door so you never have to hunt for the buttons or levers under the seat.
Now you can actually see the part of the seat you want to move. The
driver's seat also has a two-position memory feature. The door unlock
button is located next to the aluminum door pull. All four windows are one
touch down but not up, we would have liked to see them one touch up as
well. A foot lever near the dead pedal engages the parking brake. Gas and
brake pedals are also adjustable by way of a switch located on the door.
These are all features that make living with the Pacifica such a joy.
Sharing of stereo and climate controls is a bit of a downer in this
otherwise unique vehicle. The 200-watt Infinity speaker system sounded
great and it included CD and tape functions. We had an optional DVD changer
but no DVD screen; we would have liked that as well. We much prefer using
an IPOD with a FM tuner and so we made little use of the CD changers.
The temperature controls are located just above the stereo. The
system has settings for dual zones as well as controls for the rear fan. We
found the system to be loud up front with the second row fans turned on.
However it is still better than not having airflow in the rear compartment.
An air filtration system is also standard.
The instrument cluster glows white day or night in a very Mercedes
S-Class style, which was a great elegant touch. A glowing green clock is
located just to the right of the instrument cluster and reminds us of the
clock in Infiniti models. A small display for the trip computer is located
in the lower left hand corner of the instrument cluster with controls
located near the oval clock in the dash. At night most of the cabin glows
green in color as in other Chrysler models. The instrument cluster is a bit
simplistic without the navigation system which displays inside of the main
speedometer. Here you do not have the option of having a passenger play
with the navigation system and find interesting stopovers nearby your
route. However without the navigation system the instrument cluster looks
incomplete. Otherwise we feel that something like stereo station and a trip
computer be displayed inside this otherwise empty area.
Another optional feature is a Bluetooth phone system called
UConnect. This is something we feel should be standard just for its large
safety benefits. High intensity discharge lamps are also optional and
available on the Pacifica. The standard beams worked better than any
American car we have seen yet, the high beams were powerful and the low
beams with the fog lights very bright.
The elegant steering wheel feels great to the touch and also holds
loads of buttons for cruise control. The steering column is manually
adjustable up and down but not in its length. Behind the wheel are buttons
for the stereo system with no lettering describing what these buttons
actually do, a strange oddity. We would rather have the stereo buttons on
the front of the wheel with the cruise buttons behind it.
The powered rear lift gate on the Pacifica comes in handy when you
have things in your hand. A button for this is located in the upper console
next to the Homelink Garage door buttons as well as on the keychain. Seats
in the second row also have hooks as in minivan seats. Legroom and space
overall is great in the Pacifica. There is plenty of elbowroom for large
American buyers and even with seats reclined a bit everyone has enough space
to feel very comfortable.
As far as cargo room goes, with the third row up, there is little
room for much more than a few bags. You generally must put the third row
down when buying large amounts of groceries or anything larger than a tennis
bag. Cargo room with all seats folded is 79.5 cubic feet.
On the road the Pacifica handles more like a car than a SUV. The
interior is very quiet with road noise eliminated very well. The Pacifica
drives beautifully, maybe a little too well. The feeling behind the wheel
is a strange mix of large SUV and Minivan. You cannot feel the tires
touching the road very well through the steering wheel. The stiff gas pedal
and unresponsive engine and transmission makes for a sluggish feeling.
However, body bounce and sway is very low and composure on the road is quite
good for this vehicle. Only when you turn hard and sharp does the Pacifica
sway too much. So there is a point of no return on the suspension, go past
this point and body lean is significant. Driving around town and on
highways is more comfortable than sporty. The Pacifica has very good road
The Pacifica is powered by a 250 horsepower 3.5 Liter 6-cylinder engine
which also produces 250 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a four speed
automatic with AutoStick which lets you change gears by way of the gear
shift lever. The Pacifica's engine is not as free flowing those from German
shores causing a slow strained feeling even with a good amount of
horsepower. Large 17-inch wheels and beefy 235/65R tires make for a solid
feeling behind the wheel. A five-link rear suspension with load leveling
really shines through eliminating road bounce as we felt in minivans. The
brakes are all disc with antilock feature. The Pacifica's fuel economy
rating is listed at 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, we thought that it could
be much better and hope that in the future it will get better.
Taking the Pacifica off road is not recommended as its ride height is not
that great. There is no hill descent control or automatic braking so that
the Pacifica does not slide back on a hill. We think that it is more like a
minivan in the off road department and would not recommend it for serious
off-roading at all.
The Pacifica is a great long journey tourer. The smooth ride and quiet
interior makes for a very relaxed trip. The seats feel very comfortable and
have long and wide bottoms that are soft enough to feel great day in and
out. The vehicle is wide and long so stability is also not an issue as it
is often the case in minivans. The ride height is low enough to give you a
car-like feeling but with taller seats for a more minivan seating position.
Safety is also key in the Pacifica with dual front airbags and driver's knee
airbag. We did not find any side impact airbags or curtain bags for the
three rows standard in our model however, the Limited model offers more
airbags. The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put the Pacifica through the
paces and Chrysler Pacifica received the government's highest front and side
crash test rating - Five Stars when equipped with the side airbags which are
optional. Pacifica also earned the U.S. Government's best rating for
rollover resistance of all SUVs tested, four stars.
For 2005 Chrysler will offer three models. One is an entry
level model priced at less than $25,000. Then we have our test car, a
Touring model priced at $30,370. Finally a Limited model will be added with
many more options. All wheel drive models and front wheel drive models are
available in each trim. We would suggest you buy the Touring model with
standard leather seats as the feeling inside is much more upscale. Rear
park assist is also a great option to have added in this large vehicle as
well as Sirius radio. The Pacifica limited will start at $36,995 and will
include all wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, a nicer interior in leather with
power moon roof, side curtain airbags, rear parking sensors, and tire
pressure monitoring system. However this price range gets into competition
with the BMW X3 and Acura MDX as well as our favorite SUV the Touareg. With
incentives offered by Chrysler the Pacifica can be a bargain when sold at
invoice price or below invoice. VW also offers Touareg's now below invoice
and so that may be a better option. However the ride quality is more
relaxed, and comfortable in the Pacifica, rather than a high feeling in a
SUV. Look next year for the Mercedes Grand Sports Tourer which is likely to
be a similarly styled vehicle to the Pacifica.