2005 Chrysler Pacifica Review

2005 Chrysler Pacifica - Pacifica gets price cut.

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The Chrysler Pacifica is a "crossover" vehicle that combines attributes of a sedan, minivan and sport-utility vehicle. It got a rocky start after its debut early last year because it offered $30,000-plus versions many folks thought were too expensive.

DaimlerChrysler learned its lesson and thus offers an entry 2005 front-drive Pacifica for $24,315. The all-wheel-drive entry version goes for $27,315. Both come with two-row seating for five occupants.

The entry Pacifica is fairly well equipped but can't be had with such items as leather upholstery, power tailgate, sunroof, traction control or rear-seat DVD entertainment system, which are standard or optional on other versions.

There's also a new top-line, $36,315 Limited all-wheel-drive model equipped with everything but the kitchen sink -- along with mid-range front- and all-wheel-drive Touring models that cost $27,570 and $30,370.

The entry Pacifica has fold-flat second-row seats for more cargo area. The Touring and Limited have three-row, six-passenger seating with fold-flat second- and third-row seats.

The Limited is a deluxe number, with such things as exclusive interior trim featuring first- and second-row heated leather seats, side curtain air bags, big 19-inch (versus standard 17-inch) chrome-clad wheels, power adjustable pedals and a power tailgate and sunroof.

The Pacifica is a family vehicle, so side curtain air bags are optional for other models, and there's a special driver air bag to help prevent leg injuries in a collision.

DaimlerChrysler is disappointed that lots of folks didn't go for the higher-priced, well-equipped 2004 Pacifica because it was billed as a "premium sports tourer breakthrough'' vehicle.

Chrysler couldn't pull off the higher prices with much success because it doesn't have the nameplate prestige of automakers such as Cadillac, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

However, the new Chrysler 300 sedan is helping build the prestigious image the Chrysler nameplate enjoyed from the 1930s through the late 1950s. That image vanished because Chrysler lacked the resources of larger, more affluent U.S. automakers, although it got a new lease on life after it was bought by Daimler-Benz in 1988.

The base front-drive Pacifica is powered by a 3.8-liter, 215-horsepower V-6, which offers average performance above 65 mph because this vehicle is pretty big and heavy, starting at 4,383 pounds.

The weight can be felt during such things as quick maneuvers, but the rather heavy steering is quick and the Pacifica handles as well as most carlike minivans. In fact, the Pacifica is about as long as an extended-wheelbase Chrysler Town & Country minivan, although it's lower and wider. The ride is smooth, and braking is strong.

All-wheel-drive Pacificas are heavier, but get a more sophisticated 3.5-liter V-6. Although smaller than the 3.8 V-6, it generates 250 horsepower and additional torque.

Both engines work with a responsive four-speed automatic transmission, although a more modern five- or six-speed automatic would be welcome.

So would Chrysler's 5.7-liter, 340-horsepower Hemi V-8, which is offered for the Chrysler 300 and DaimlerChrysler's Dodge Magnum.

I tested the front-drive Touring version and found the 3.5 V-6 provides good acceleration above 65 mph, at least with only a driver aboard, although it's rather noisy when asked to work hard.

Fuel economy of any Pacifica model is so-so, being in the mid-teens in the city and low 20s on the highway. After all, this is a big, strong, roomy vehicle with average aerodynamics.

The body looks distinctive. High window sills are meant to impart a feeling of security to occupants, but might cause shorter ones to feel a little confined. At least the rear windows lower all the way.

It's easy to get in and out, with the low-floor and wide-opening doors. Occupants sit higher than they would in a car, but lower than in a sport-utility vehicle. Front seats are especially large and supportive, and the sliding second-row bucket seats in the three-row models are comfortable. However, it calls for extra effort to reach the third-row seat, even if you're a kid.

The interior is filled with cup and bottle holders, and the front power seats have Mercedes-style controls. The ignition switch is conveniently on the dashboard. The available navigation system is fairly easy to operate, with its screen directly ahead of the driver in the speedometer face. However, the screen and controls are only for driver use.

The cargo area is roomy in all versions with the seatbacks flipped forward, but there isn't much cargo space with the third-row seatbacks in their normal position.

Lower prices should help sales of the Pacifica. So should increased popularity of crossover vehicles.

2005 CHRYSLER PACIFICA

PRICES
$24,315-$36,315

LIKES
Expanded lineup with new lower-priced model and new top-line version. Roomy. Decent handling. Smooth ride. Luxurious.

DISLIKES
Third seat for pre-teens. Base engine just adequate. Where's the Hemi V-8?


Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.