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Range in Motion - 2005 Crossover Buyer's Guide

2005 Chrysler Pacifica Review

by Martha Hindes

Chrysler Pacifica
2005 Chrysler Pacifica

When Chrysler talent was given the task of designing a crossover vehicle, imagination won out. Not only did the end result burst the confines of a segment that is still defining itself, but even its category name established a one-of-a-kind image.

As the only self-described "sports tourer" on the block, Chrysler's Pacifica is a bit hard to define. In terms of interior room and usability, one could envision minivan proportions that would lend itself to long, comfortable stretches of car-like driving for six or four with third row seating folded flat. In terms of appearance, it's a sophisticated traveler with trim, sporty lines and a high, sweeping window line that lends a sense of class (arguably not minivan territory). In terms of handling, it has power and performance, based on two V6 engines. The four-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick mode adds punch somewhat, although it won't knock your socks off. (We tried.) But, for a solid performer with, at last, a comfortable entry price (think mid 20s as base), we think Chrysler nails it.

That dollar-dropping price tag is thanks to Chrysler's smart move for 2005. A new addition bringing the Pacifica lineup to five, is a wallet-coddling, five-seat, front drive "S" version, meant to appeal to budget-conscious buyers who otherwise might pass on a base that breached the $25,000 mark. (Compare a $3,560 to $3,860 premium for a loaded "Signature Series" commemorative Touring package also new for '05, or about $10 K more for the top-of-the-line Limited.)

Mostly a front-drive configuration, the all-wheel-drive on equipped Pacifica versions kicks in when road conditions mandate more traction. Mercedes-Benz technology underpinnings, standard ABS, driver knee bolsters and available tire monitors lend a sense of security, as does a driver centered navigation system that keeps eyes from wandering too far from the road, and a recently won "five star" crash rating when fitted with side curtain airbags. And yes, Chrysler does say "SUV" when describing Pacifica. It's for "safety, utility and value," according to company execs.