Introduced in 2004 and packed with luxury features that came with a corresponding price tag, the Chrysler Pacifica’s sales didn’t live up to expectations.

For 2005, there’s a new entry model that drops the base by $3,835 over 2004’s starting price. It features a new, smaller-horsepower engine and eliminates the third row of seats, with a three-passenger, second-row bench instead of buckets. Also for 2005, there are two new standard features on all models: dual-zone climate control, and power driver and passenger seats. The Touring all-wheel-drive model gets leather seats, while the Limited all-wheel-drive comes standard with rear park assist, 19-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, power sunroof and side curtain air bags.

The lowest model is, strangely, called the Highline, in front-wheel-drive only, and with five-passenger seating. It comes exclusively with the 210 hp, 3.8-litre engine, which moves the heavy vehicle leisurely through the gears from a light. Standard features include power windows, heated mirrors and power locks with keyless entry, eight-way power driver’s seat, cruise control, cloth seats, CD player, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17-inch steel wheels.

The mid-range Touring model is available in front- or all-wheel-drive and comes with a 250 hp 3.5-litre V6; in FWD it adds a cargo cover, clock, second-row centre console, Homelink garage door opener, ten-way power driver’s seat, fog lamps, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.

The Touring and the top-line Limited hold six passengers, but those in the third row had better be small; the seating is cramped and mostly suitable for children.

Elegantly styled, the Pacifica is only 43 mm shorter than a Town & Country minivan, but it’s lower and wider. It handles well for a van, with relatively little body roll and a comfortable ride that eats up highway miles like a luxury car. The optional parking assist is a useful feature; the Pacifica suffers from poor rear visibility and backing it up is a chore. All by itself when it was introduced, it now faces stiff competition from the new Ford Freestyle, which is longer; although the Ford isn’t as wide or as tall, in base form it’s $2,770 cheaper.

The Pacifica is built in Windsor, Ontario.

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