Only one engine is available: a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a four-speed automatic transaxle with AutoStick. We were unanimous about the lack of power from the 250-horse engine relative to the 4692 pounds the Pacifica's all-wheel-drive version has to lug around (a front-drive variant weighs 4393). The engine proved adequate enough, though some of our staffers called it slow, sluggish, and strained; but with 300 pounds less weight, it may not have been as much of an issue. Part and parcel of a luxury vehicle is the luxury that comes from rich power on demand, and this 3.5-liter often didn't feel up to the task. Tip-in response is fine, but once underway the car feels lifeless at anything less than wide-open throttle that, unfortunately, reveals a shrill engine note.

Another cog in the transaxle could've helped, with closer ratios allowing the engine to stay in the fat part of its powerband. And while some may think of the AutoStick as gimmicky, our logbook entries comment about how it does come in handy for holding gears, as when descending hills.

Overall, the quality of our long-term Pacifica was good, with the exception of the two airbag clock-springs replaced during our first two service visits. The remaining service schedule went smoothly with the usual lube, oil and filter change, tire rotation, and visual inspections every 6000 miles. The 12,000-mile service also included replacement of the cabin air filter. The total amount we'd have had to spend on the three services would've been $210, but we didn't. Free maintenance was included with the early Pacifica as an incentive to offset the high initial price for the vehicle.

For reference (2005 prices), Chrysler's Town & Country minivan has a base price of $22,065 while the Dodge Magnum SE (new-aged station wagon) starts at $22,995. Pacifica base price is $25,345. Our 2004 Satin Jade Pearl Coat AWD Pacifica started at $32,300 with our out the door price at $38,515--not exactly chump change. By mid-2004, Chrysler lopped $1700 off the price of the front-drive models. Base price on the AWD like ours remained unchanged, but, for 2005, Chrysler introduced Touring and Limited models. Without a deep dive into equipment specs, it looks like our 2004 would match up to a 2005 Touring model, which based for $1375 less than our 2004. A lower price could've changed our value perspective.

All in, the Pacifica has a number of shortcomings. But in terms of being an upmarket, family-friendly multitasker that gives the driver the highly regarded command view of the road, it makes a lot more economic sense (in terms of MSRP and mpg) than many of the pricier/thirstier luxury SUVs purchased to serve the same needs. Some us don't agree on this point, but let's just say we agree the Pacifica is no segment-buster.