2006 Pacifica New Car Test Drive
The Chrysler Pacifica is one of a growing number of what the industry calls crossover vehicles that combine attributes of sport utilities, wagons and minivans. Chrysler calls the Pacifica a sports tourer, suggesting sport-utility DNA, although it doesn't really look like an SUV crossover. However you see it, and whatever you call it, we think the Pacifica is a terrific family vehicle.
Pacifica is available with two or three rows of seating, for five or six passengers. The five-passenger base model has two bucket seats in front with a split folding bench in the second row that seats up to three. Six-passenger models swap the middle-row bench for two flat-folding bucket seats, and add a 50/50 split bench in the rear, for six-passenger capacity. Most models are configured to seat six and offer 79.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity with all the seats folded, which is more than a Jeep Grand Cherokee is rated to carry.
Pacifica has four sedan-like doors on its sides but a liftgate in back similar to what you'd expect on an SUV or minivan. Inside it's roomy and comfortable, whether upholstered in fabric or leather. Getting in and out is easy.
In its mechanical layout, Pacifica more resembles a minivan than anything else, except that it's been enhanced throughout with Mercedes-Benz engineering, including a complete rear suspension borrowed from the Mercedes E-Class sedan.
On the road, Pacifica is smooth and quiet. All-wheel drive is available, making it a good choice for the snow country. The ride is smooth and supple, and the four-wheel antilock (ABS) disc brakes do a good job of bringing Pacifica to a smooth stop. Pacifica is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds.
Pacifica excels in safety, with five-star front and side-impact ratings and a four-star rollover rating from the federal government's NHTSA, and 'best pick' from the insurance industry's IIHS. Side curtain airbags designed to provide head protection are optional, and we recommend ordering them.
Pacifica was introduced as a totally new vehicle for 2004. For 2005, Chrysler expanded the lineup to include an entry-level, five-seat version. For 2006, all models come with the more powerful 3.5-liter overhead-cam V6. (The old pushrod 3.8-liter engine is gone.) The 2006 Pacifica lineup also gets new Signature Series models that combine popular options with a unique look, at a discounted price.
The 2006 Chrysler Pacifica lineup includes four trim levels: base, Touring, Touring Signature, and Limited. Limited is built only with all-wheel drive (AWD); the other models are offered with front-wheel drive (FWD) or AWD. All models are powered by the same 3.5-liter overhead-cam V6 rated at 250 horsepower. All come with a four-speed automatic transmission with an AutoStick manual mode.
The base Pacifica ($25,165) and Pacifica AWD ($27,825) come standard with two rows of seating, dual-zone air conditioning, 200-watt Infinity audio, all the usual power assists, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, eight-way power driver seat and four-way power front passenger seat, 17-inch steel wheels, four 12-volt outlets around the cabin, and a lot of other family friendly amenities. Options for the base Pacifica include a cargo convenience package, the fancy six-CD changer with multiple CD capabilities, leather seating, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The Touring model ($28,365) upgrades to three rows seating, a 10-way power driver's seat, automatic climate control and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Touring AWD ($31,165) comes with all that, plus leather upholstery.
Touring Signature FWD ($34,055) and AWD ($36,585) upgrade with two-tone leather upholstery with unique embossed wings, an in-dash GPS navigation system, Sirius Satellite Radio (with a free first-year subscription), heated seats, a two-tone instrument panel and unique door trim panels and interior accents. Satin silver accents highlight the leather shift lever. On the outside, Signature models are distinguished by W. P. Chrysler signature badges, a limited selection of colors, and chromed 17-inch wheels.
Limited AWD ($36,685) features a monochrome exterior. First and second-row seats are leather covered, but in also in a single color, and wood inserts warm the interior. Front seats are heated. Also standard are side curtain airbags, a power sunroof, automatic-tilting mirrors, ParkSense rear park assist, power adjustable pedals with memory, a tire pressure monitor, power liftgate, and a six-disc in-dash CD changer with MP3, DVD audio, DVD video, DVD-R and DVD-RW capability. Chromed 19-inch wheels complete the package. However, some items that are standard on Signature are optional on Limited, for example, the GPS navigation system and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Options include a 385-watt Infinity Intermezzo sound system with eight speakers ($700); Chrysler's Uconnect wireless hands-free communication system with Bluetooth technology ($275); navigation/global positioning system ($1,695); DVD video rear-seat entertainment system ($990); six-disc CD/DVD changer ($555); Sirius Satellite Radio ($195), which includes the first 12 months of service; and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps ($550).
Safety features that come on all Pacificas include dual multi-stage frontal airbags; driver-side inflatable knee bolster; three-point seatbelts at all seating positions; front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters; and child safety seat anchors. Side curtain airbags are optional ($595). Traction control is available only on the Touring FWD and Touring Signature FWD only ($175). A tire pressure monitoring system is optional ($70) on Touring.
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