2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD
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Story and photos by Greg Wilson

When the six-passenger Chrysler Pacifica “crossover” luxury car was introduced last Spring as an early 2004 model, its base price was $43,395 for the front-wheel-drive model, and $45,995 for the all-wheel-drive model. With additional options, the price-tag could approach $50,000. Canadians, being the value conscious buyers that they are, found this price a bit steep – even though the Pacifica is a well-equipped luxury vehicle, not a family wagon. In any event, Pacifica sales got off to a rather slow start.

To help spur sales, Chrysler reduced the base price by $3,495 by making some standard features optional. Leather upholstery, in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD changer, heated front and second row seats, and a power liftgate are now part of the optional ‘R Package’. The Pacifica FWD ‘M-package’ model is now priced at $39,900, while the Pacifica with all-wheel-drive is now $42,500.

The front-wheel-drive Pacifica, this week’s test car, remains a well-equipped, 6-passenger luxury vehicle with three rows of seats in a 2/2/2 layout. It offers such standard features as a 250 horsepower V6 engine, 4-speed automatic with AutoStick manual shifting capability, traction control, four disc brakes with ABS, 17 inch tires with alloy wheels, and fog lamps.

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD
Click image to enlarge

Inside are a dual zone automatic climate control and rear heater controls, well-made cloth upholstery and 10-way power driver and 4-way passenger seats, power adjustable pedals, power windows with “1-Touch” down front and rear, keyless entry, folding second and third row seats, rear tonneau cover, cargo net, and roof rail crossbars.

As well, the Pacifica has 7 airbags: two front airbags, two side airbags in the front seats, two side curtain airbags (which protect head of all three rows of passengers in a side impact), and a driver-side knee blocker air bag.

Options on my FWD test car included a navigation system ($1,885), High Intensity Discharge headlamps ($770), and chromed aluminum wheels ($540). Including Freight and A/C tax, my tester came to $44,220.

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD
Click image to enlarge

The optional “R-Package” ($3495) includes an in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD changer, leather seats, heated front and second row seats, and a power liftgate – but some of these options can be purchased independently: 6-disc in-dash CD changer ($540), power sunroof ($955), rear seat video system ($1,140), full-size spare tire $165, and a power liftgate ($475).

Interior impressions

The Pacifica is wider than a Town & Country minivan and almost as long, but it’s about 2 1/2 inches lower – so while the interior is roomier than a Chrysler Intrepid, it’s not as roomy as a Chrysler minivan. The Pacifica’s standard six-passenger seating includes first and second row bucket seats and a third-row split bench seat.

Standard cloth seats are made of a good quality material and look and feel durable – plus they’re warmer on the posterior in winter and cooler in summer than the optional leather seats. First and second row seating positions offer plenty of legroom and headroom, and the second row buckets can be adjusted fore and aft and have reclining seatbacks. As well, both first and second row buckets have inboard folding armrests, and covered storage bins between them which include cupholders and 12 volt powerpoints. Second row passengers also have their own heating and air conditioning controls, and an optional second row DVD video/audio entertainment system is available. Conclusion? The second row is certainly a very comfortable place to be.

The third row seat is not quite as comfy. It’s narrower, with a shorter more upright backrest, and limited legroom. If you move the second row seat forward, it’s possible for an average adult to get reasonably comfortable. The third row is accessed by folding over the second row bucket seats, which means that second row passengers have to get in AFTER the third row passengers.

The Pacifica’s interior is nicely finished, with a combination of black plastic, real metal trim, warm fake wood trim, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, and attractive switches. My only reservation is that the size of the buttons and the graphic symbols are a bit small to see at a glance from the driver’s seat.

The rear-lit instruments are easy to see, day or night. A large central speedometer surrounds the information centre or the optional navigation screen. The dash also includes a classy round clock, a dual zone automatic climate control system with a bright green LCD display, an open bin for CD’s, and two 12 volt outlets.

Unlike most automotive navigation systems, Chrysler’s colour screen is located in the instrument cluster directly ahead of the driver. This screen is smaller than typical screens mounted in the centre console, but I found that I could see it quite plainly. The front passenger however cannot see it, and therefore can’t input any navigation instructions. The navigation control buttons are just to the right of the instruments/navigation screen.

Versatile cargo area

The Pacifica’s cargo area is not as large as a minivan, but with all the seats folded down, it has up to 5 times as much cargo area as the trunk of a typical sedan. With the second and third rows seats folded flat, the cargo floor is over six feet long and 43 inches wide between the wheelhousings. Both second and third row seats fold flat and the third row is split 50/50 for greater versatility. For example, one person can sit in the left rear seat while the other side is folded down to make room for cargo.

Special features include a carpeted panel which covers the gap between the second and third rows, and a right front seatback that will fold flat. The rear seats fold down easily by lifting a latch on the back of the seat and pushing.

Driving impressions

The Pacifica is a great highway vehicle – I found it comfortable, quiet and easy to drive with just a little wind noise seeping in. It tracks well at higher speeds, and because the driver sits higher than in a car, visibility is quite good – with the exception of the thick right-rear ‘C’ pillar which hinders visibility when parallel parking or lane changing.

The suspension (fully independent front struts/rear multi-link) and standard Michelin MXV4 Energy P235/65R-17 inch tires soak up bumps that send shock waves through most other cars – I was quite impressed at how the Pacifica absorbed speed bumps, the scourge of modern day parking lots. My only complaint is that the Pacifica’s extra height produces some “head bobbing” on rough roads. As well, with a 1993 kg (4393 lb.) curb weight, the Pacifica feels heavy when cornering.

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD
Click image to enlarge

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 9.7 seconds, according to tests conducted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. That’s about the same as a Mercedes-Benz E320 Wagon but about a second slower than a Lexus RX330. Braking from 100 km/h to 0 took an average of 131 feet over three test runs – comparable with other vehicles in this class.

The Pacifica’s 3.5 litre SOHC 24 valve V6 engine, the same one used in the 300M, hums along at just 2,200 rpm at 100 km/h and is very quiet. The standard 4-speed automatic ‘AutoStick’ transmission is smooth and can be shifted manually by tapping left or right to upshift and downshift. Fuel consumption of 14.1 l/100 km (20 mpg) in the city and 9.4 l/100 km (30 mpg) on the highway seems reasonable for a vehicle of this size and weight.

Because of its size and fairly large turning diameter (39.8 ft./12.1 m), the Pacifica isn’t easy to maneuver in tight spaces, and can make parallel parking a challenge. But the Pacifica is low enough to fit into any parking garage, and the standard rear wiper and washer dramatically improves rear-view mirror visibility when the window gets dirty – which is quite often.

It should be noted that the Pacifica, even the AWD model, is not an off-road vehicle like some of the “crossover” vehicles on the market. Its long wheelbase and 5.9 in. ground clearance are not designed for mountain trails – although gravel roads should be no problem. The Pacifica is more of a touring vehicle than a utility vehicle.

The Pacifica performed well in crash tests. In the U.S. government (NHTSA) front and side impact crash tests, the Pacifica received five stars, the maximum score.


There aren’t many V6-powered, front-wheel-drive, six passenger luxury utility vehicles on the market, but here’s some you might consider: the rear-wheel-drive Cadillac SRX V6 ($52,250), or the all-wheel-drive Toyota Highlander 7 passenger ($37,950), or Volvo XC90 2.5T AWD ($54,995).

Mid-size SUVs like the Acura MDX, Honda Pilot, Nissan Murano, Ford Explorer, Chevy Trailblazer, Dodge Durango, Kia Sedona, VW Touareg, Buick Rainier, Buick Rendezvous, Pontiac Aztek, GMC Envoy, Mitsubishi Monterio, Mercedes-Benz ML350, and BMW X5 could also be considered competitors.


A different kind of a luxury vehicle, the 6-passenger Pacifica scores high on comfort, ride, powertrain, cargo versatility, and luxury features, but its size and poor rear visibility make parking and maneuvering difficult.

The Pacifica is made in Windsor, Ontario.

Technical Data: 2004 Chrysler Pacifica FWD

Base price $39,900
Options $3,195
Freight $1,025
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $44,220
Type 4-door, 6 passenger mid-sized luxury utility wagon
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive
Engine 3.5 litre V6, SOHC, 24 valves
Horsepower 250 @ 6400 rpm
Torque 250 lb-ft @ 3950 rpm
Transmission 4 speed automatic “AutoStick”
Curb weight 1993 kg (4393 lb.)
Max. towing capacity 1600 kg (3500 lb.)
Wheelbase 2954 mm (116.3 in.)
Length 5052 mm (198.9 in.)
Width 2013 mm ( 79.3 in.)
Height 1688 mm ( 66.5 in.)
Ground clearance 149 mm (5.9 in.)
Cargo area Behind 1st row 2250 litres (79.5 cu. ft.)
  Behind 2nd row 1230 litres (43.6 cu. ft.)
  Behind 3rd row 369 litres (13.0 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 14.1 l/100 km (20 mpg)
  Hwy: 9.4 l/100 km (30 mpg)
Fuel type: Mid-grade 89 octane recommended/Regular-grade 87 octane acceptable
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain Warranty 7 yrs/115,000 km

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