2006 Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD
The Good :) Broad stance. Chrome wheels. Roomy Interior. Quiet Ride.
The Bad :( Seats need to be more comfortable. Slushy and bouncy ride on uneven roads.
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The Pacifica was the first of the crossovers offering utility and room for six with a ride similar to a sedan. Since then we have seen variations from manufactures that range from small compact crossovers, to larger SUV-like crossovers. The Pacifica however has remained the same, and for 2006 Chrysler has expanded the lineup offering with three different models: A five passenger base model, a six passenger Touring model and the top of the line Limited model. Even the Mercedes wing of DiamlerChrysler, now offers a Pacifica like vehicle, called the R-class.
"Chrysler Pacifica is the right choice for successful individuals who desire a stylish vehicle for an active lifestyle, without compromising safety or utility," said Jeff Bell, Vice President of Chrysler. "With plenty of room for people and things, the Pacifica also offers peace of mind with its best in class safety ratings."
Our metallic gold Pacifica Limited certainly has good exterior looks. Chrome on the front grille, bumpers, and 19-inch wheels make the exterior glitter. A monochromatic exterior is another feature that is included in the Limited trim model. Nicely integrated fog lamps and a big grille do give the Pacifica presence. A broad shouldered stance gives you the unique look and feel of Chrysler, with wings spread wide just like the Chrysler logo. Body lines stretch from the front to the rear nicely however body cladding is excessive, and this Pacifica needs a clean fresh look. Overall the Pacifica is a large vehicle with road presence.
Little has changed with interior styling over previous versions. The clean flowing design is still beautiful and well designed. The overall design of the interior is elegant and nicely refined. Four-place seating with lots of cabin width makes it feel very roomy inside. It is also easy to get in and out with a ride height similar to that of a small SUV. Light wood trim ads a nice touch of elegance along with painted silver parts. It's unfortunate that you can only choose grey or black interior colors. Why have a car with a gloomy color inside? We all do not feel good on cloudy grey days, so why paint the inside of your car this same color? It just does not make sense and I think Chrysler needs to offer tan, creamy white, dark black and brown leather as interior colors.
Wood and leather adorn the steering wheel and shift knob. Most door paneling and dash material is soft to the touch but still looks like fake leather and not the real thing. Controls are within good reach and where you expect them to be. We liked the numerous buttons on the front and back of the steering wheel for controlling cruise control and stereo functions. Also great was the fan control for the rear seat passengers giving a more personal experience to everyone.
The instrument cluster is nicely lit in white with a navigation system inside of the main speedometer. We think this can be more useful in the center stack so a passenger can help with the navigating. The navigation system is good at getting you where you need to go however in days where traffic jams are almost everywhere it would be nice to have it reroute you around traffic. At night the predominant color inside is green. Lacking is floor lighting so you can see what is below and some ambient lighting around the doors, something that is usually found in most high end vehicles.
The Limited model features some standard items that are not found in the lesser two trim levels. Luxury leather heated seats are found in the first and second rows. When you shift into reverse, both outside mirrors tilt down so you can see the curb. Rear parking sensors give you a beep when something is near. Pedals are adjustable and a tire pressure monitoring system is standard. Dark colored rear windows give privacy to passengers. A built in roof rack offers expansion capability for extra storage. A power lift gate can be opened by using the key fob or an overhead console button.
There are plenty of spaces for all your goodies, from divided trays in the doors to large cup holders in all three rows and compartments for hideaway storage. The front seatbacks have two hooks for holding grocery bags in a secure way. The second rows also have small hooks up on the roof for a clothes hanger. Luggage space is limited with all three rows up however you can fit a suitcase and some bags even then. With the second row folded flat there is almost 80 cubic feet of space.
We also liked the heated seats in first and second rows. A 2-position memory driver's seat is very useful. On the rearview mirror a Uconnect Bluetooth hands free cell phone connection is offered and we found the system to work nicely using voice commands. Another great feature to have is the auto-dimming rearview mirrors.
The climate control system needs some work while being full of features. The unit offers dual temperature selection and an automatic low and high setting. In automatic mode it did not spread the air to the feet or all around you as we like. The air also did not get as cold as we would have liked, something we find happening very fast in German cars. Usually when we set a temperature, the climate control system took its dandy time getting the interior down to that temperature and we just could not wait that long. In the second row you can set fan speed to automatic or adjust it manually yourself however we found that it would not work immediately and was quite loud in high setting. At times it seemed like it had a mind of its own. We think this system should be adjusted to provide better climate comfort.
The stereo system with satellite radio and 6-disc DVD changer as well as a video screen in the 2nd row offers something for everyone. Our Limited model featured the optional Infinity Intermezzo 5.1 Digital surround sound system powered by a 385 Watt digital amplifier. We found this system to be quite good giving movies a lifelike feel inside a car. The 6-disc DVD changer as well as the separate 6-disc CD changer gives you enough choices on a long trip. There is also a auxiliary input jack for standard RCA connections so we were able to easily plug in our Ipod. You can easily plug in an Xbox or Playstation to keep the kids busy. Two wireless headsets are included so that rear passengers can watch a movie while the front seat passengers listen to the stereo. Everything worked nicely and there were little complaints about the stereo and entertainment system.
While everything feels heavy and solid, the use of foamy rubber trim everywhere on the doors and the upper dash was not pleasant. The material should look like leather and be somewhat modern as we found in the Mercedes R class. A fuzzy carpet like material is also used on the roof paneling, something that is quite rare in a $35,000 car these days. Window switches are auto down but not auto up. The sunroof also lacks a one touch control dial, but does open most of way automatically. We also liked the powered rear hatch which can open from the roof mounted button (a bad place for this button) or from the key fob.
Lack of adjustability of the armrests makes them hard to fit all passengers. We found ourselves constantly fumbling around with the armrests in the first and second rows. The third row has a good angle to its seat bottom and is large enough for an adult to sit in for about an hour. A quirk is that all the doors do not open as wide as you would expect them to open making for a narrower space for you to get in the vehicle. This can be quickly and easily fixed and I hope it is soon.
The engine powering the Pacifica is a 3.5 Liter V6 producing 250 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,950rpm. A four speed transmission which you can shift yourself is mated to this engine. Power feels slow to come on, but is strong enough for this vehicle and does get better with speed. Highway cruising is easy but push the pedal and power is sluggish to push you forward. We found 0-60mph times to be quite slow and you will probably hear a complaint of 'slow down' from a passenger before you get to 60mph, a sign that road manners need to be improved. The all-wheel-drive system helps give the Pacifica an even push forward from a stop and there is no sign of jerkiness. Towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds with the optional hitch. The turning radius is also larger than we would like to see on any car. Overall gas mileage that we averaged in our tests was 18.5 mpg which is lower than that stated on the sticker in mixed city and highway driving. Even on full highway driving we never broke the 19 mpg barrier.
Behind the wheel the Pacifica gives little feedback to the driver and feels large. Body lean and bounce are evident. Steering is sharp enough to drive well but we expect more in a car with Mercedes parts. Straight line driving on the highway feels good and the Pacifica is stable and quiet. You can even drive quite fast without any complaints if you do not have a full house in back. The self leveling rear suspension does little to reduce body lean and perhaps an air suspension would be best suited to this vehicle, it does raise the vehicle when you load up the back for better road manners.
As a passenger in the Pacifica, you have the feeling of a bouncy, wavy ride. You are rolling along in a big heavy vehicle. The seats lack bolstering on the bottom and back cushions. You also do not have anything to hold onto, like a grab handle on the door in an ergonomic position, therefore you feel uncomfortable. The passenger seat in the front row is powered yet lacks height adjustment or seat bottom angle adjustment. In back, the seats get a bit less comfortable the further back you wander. Room is abundant everywhere and flexibility is the strong point of the Pacifica. If you have plenty of straight roads then this is a grandtourer for you.
Three rows of side curtain airbags, a driver's side inflatable knee blocker, and driver and passenger multi-stage airbags provide class leading safety. Anti-lock brakes are standard as well. The 2006 Pacifica received a five-star rating for front and side impact crash tests with the optional side curtain airbags. Having all-wheel-drive also does not hurt; you feel safer and drive more confidently in rain and snow. A three year or 36,000 mile basic limited warranty is offered with the Chrysler Pacifica.
Our Limited model with All Wheel drive started out at a base price of $36,885. Added to this were some options like the Linen Gold Metallic Pearl Coat Paint for $150. An Infinity Intermezzo surround sound system with 5.1 processing and 8-speakers with subwoofer was $700. Laminated door glass called SecureShield adds $300. A navigation system is $1,695. Sirius satellite radio with 1-year of service costs $195. The Uconnect hands free Bluetooth cell phone connection is $275. A rear seat entertainment system with two headphones costs $990. A $730 destination charge brings our total to $41,920.
With recent employee discounts and cash back on top of this you are looking at a great price for a car with so many uses and features. Eighty-six percent of the parts on this vehicle are from the US or Canada. The Pacifica is made in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and both the engine and transmission originate in the US. EPA mileage information is inflated at 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway when we only got 18 on average and never got better than 19 on the highway.
Overall for a flexible vehicle the Pacifica may be a good choice between minivan and SUV. For a better ride than a SUV without giving up any room, the Pacifica is your best bet. While you may consider a Hybrid we think that a Pacifica diesel or Hybrid giving near 30 miles per gallon is what the market is demanding right now. Hopefully Chrysler can deliver soon.