When its segment-shattering minivans rolled into the marketplace in 1983, rewrote history, and earned a place in the Smithsonian, Chrysler followed up with another successful creation, the notable PT Cruiser in 2001. Chrysler hoped for a similar huge hit with the Pacifica.
The Pacifica--Chrysler calls it a "Sports Tourer"--is a crossover vehicle, something in between a minivan and an old-school station wagon. The Pacifica's interior and exterior are gorgeous; its crisp, rising wedge shape should stay fresh for years. The big smiley face may be over the top, and the D-pillar might be on the swoopy side, but the Pacifica is nonetheless a good-looking beast. The best angle may be the rear, as it looks wide and substantial. Surface development and detailing are ideal, though, on the downside, the D-pillar design leaves a blind spot in lane changes and parking and begs for a rear-parking-assist option.
Materials and fit and finish set new highs for a domestic vehicle with switchgear that's logically placed and perceived quality approaching that of VW and Audi, although some would argue this point and say it's not quite up to the level of, say, a similarly priced Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Most of our editors like the in-cluster nav system, although some did note it didn't allow the driver to share navigation duties with the passenger and, when wearing polarized sunglasses, it's just about impossible to use. The system is, as one staffer put it, "laudably easy to program," and once underway, the cluster display minimizes the time eyes are off the road compared with a center-dash-mounted screen.
Passengers in the back, especially the attention-challenged sort, will enjoy the rear entertainment system, and second-row passengers the ability to adjust legroom, although the third-row seats aren't exactly easy to access. Folding the seatback is easy enough, but swinging the entire unit up and forward is another story. The seat on our long-termer hesitated to unlatch, and when it eventually did, it was a slow and heavy process--it was easier to climb over the collapsed seatback rather than fight the bulky unit.
Freeway ride quality is good, with the suspension absorbing most bumps, cracks, and ripples, although some thought it a bit too floaty, with handling that leaned more toward the minivan than the sports tourer, and many commented about the numb, but precise steering. Road noise is as good or better than in many of its SUV competitors.