After being in an accident which totalled our 2003 Accord in December of 2005, my wife Kristen needed wheels fast.
For years, Kristen and I held out against the rising tide of one and two-box vehicles. We were one of the few families in our neighborhood with two sedans – almost everyone else had at least one SUV or minivan. Trips to the boys’ preschool were surreal: Ours was the lone sedan lost in a sea of minivans and SUVs. The era of the “family car” was truly well and done.
Having two kids ages 6 and 3 means transporting lots of car seats, strollers, wagons, and other gear. And a third row makes it easy to split up the kids on a long trip, or bring along the inevitable passengers.
So we decided to get a three-row family truckster. Kristen refused to consider a minivan or wagon (she still had standards). She also didn’t want to drive a truck, so a truck-based SUV like the Explorer or Trailblazer was also out. This thrust us into the nascent crossover market.
It may be difficult to recall now, but once there was once a time when crossover SUVs were rare. The segment was basically created by Japanese makers looking to cash in on the US SUV boom. Lacking any suitable truck platforms, these makers lifted and butched up their cars to have something to sell to SUV crazy Americans.
While these crossovers may not have been true trucks like their American counterparts, few SUV owners actually took their vehicles off-road, as we all now know. The ride, fuel economy and space utilization benefits of crossovers quickly won over buyers’ concerns over the lack of true truck cred.
In 2006, there were not a lot of choices for a 3-row crossover. Kristen and I looked at the first-generation Toyota Highlander, but unlike its modern namesake, it was relatively small. The third row was tiny, although adequate for the small kids who would mostly be riding back there. Unfortunately, with the Highlander’s rear seat raised, there was literally no cargo space in back, making the third row pretty much unusable for long trips.
We strolled next door to the Chrysler dealership to look at the 2006 Pacifica.
The Pacifica was an interesting car for Chrysler, somewhat ahead of its time. Chrysler never marketed it as a crossover, however that is exactly what it was, by virtue of not truck-based. Unlike other crossovers, the Pacifica was not built on a jacked-up car platform. It was built on a bespoke platform, not shared with any other vehicle that I know of. This lack of platform sharing is likely why the Pacifica wasn’t more successful: The dedicated platform dictated uncompetitively high pricing, and low profit margins. Well Chrysler’s loss was our gain.
Kristen approved of the Pacifica: It met our functional requirements, and was decidedly un-trucky and un-minivany. Heck, it even had a modicum of style to it. She wanted ours in red, which made it seem a bit more sporty (a trick I would employ on future purchases).
I must confess to being a little nervous about buying an American car, having exclusively owned imports for the past 15 years. And not just an American car, but a Chrysler. I consoled myself with the fact that Chrysler was actually owned by Daimler Benz at the time, and hoped that there were at least a few Mercedes bits in there somewhere as I signed the paperwork.
Our model was the Touring model, which was the middle model of the lineup. It was still well equipped, and included some interesting bits like power-adjustable pedals, rear heated seats, power lift gate, and chrome wheels. One option I decided not to get was All Wheel Drive. Gas was relatively expensive in 2006, and I didn’t think that the added weight and fuel economy penalty of AWD was worth it, despite my previous positive experience with AWD in my Audi A4. But as it turns out, I was right this time.
The 2006 Pacifica came with a 3.5L V6. The 250 hp and 250 ft. lb. of torque sound impressive, but coupled to the 4-speed automatic and pulling 4,500 lbs., the performance could charitably be described as adequate. Chrysler recognized this problem, and bored out the V6 to 4.0 liters for the 2007 model year and increased the number of gears in the transmission to six, but it was too late to help me. Worse, it was very thirsty, averaging about 15 mpg in daily use, and returning no better than about 18 on the road. And this was with front-wheel drive – I shudder to think of what the mileage would have been had I opted for AWD.
Unlike virtually every other SUV which has a bench seat in the middle row, the Pacifica had captains chair with a center console in the middle. While the center console provided a nice “toy box” for the kids, it also meant that even the shortest trip with an extra passenger meant having to rearrange the back, and pop up a rear seat. It also limited the maximum seating capacity to six people, which is rather low for a vehicle of this heft.
Speaking of seating, the Pacifica, like virtually all three-row SUVs, suffered from a lack of what we in IT world refer to as “random access.” This means that you have to plan ahead as to how you are going to load and unload your passengers. Passengers in the way-back seat have to enter before middle row passengers. And the middle row passengers have to get out before for the third-row passengers can disembark. This admittedly is a first world problem, but it is one reason why I can understand the appeal of minivans, which generally allow true random access seating.
In the end, the Pacifica was a victim of showing up the crossover game a bit too early, before the market had decided exactly what a crossover was supposed to be. From the second row, it was clear they were aiming more for luxury car than family hauler, with the heated captains chairs, reclining rear seats, and separate climate controls. Ironically, my kids never got to enjoy any of these goodies, as they were riding in booster seats the entire time we owned it, which pretty clearly illustrates how far they missed the mark.
Future Curbside Classic: 2004-08 Chrysler Pacifica – No Chernobyl, Not Even A Three Mile Island
Good point about red making the vehicle look more sporty, I guess in white it would look much bigger, and maybe not in a good way [I’ve never seen a Pacifica face to face, I guess this was USA only?] The Mazda CX3 & 5 do look their dynamic best in metallic red.
That’s really poor fuel economy for the class of car. If you’re buying something in the Cayenne class then I reckon you can wear those kind of numbers, but not for a family CUV with “adequate” performance.
Interesting story. So the Pacifica lasted only a short time? What happened to it and what replaced it? I have one question. Why do people hate wagons? This is basically a wagon on steroids and stilts. What’s the difference?
The usual school of thought: From the ’50’s thru the ’70’s the standard family hauler was the station wagon. Usually owned as the second car (a new concept in itself starting in the ’50’s) and driven by the wife who, by social conventions of the time, dedicated her life to keeping house and caring for the children.
This social convention begin to break down in the early ’70’s as more women re-entered the workforce after marriage and children (thank you women’s lib), originally to get ahead financially, but after inflation began, just to try and stay even with the rising cost of living.
The minivan appears in the mid-’80’s. It’s a direct replacement for the station wagon, but is way more efficient, gets better gas mileage . . . . . . and becomes so popular that it rapidly gets the tag “mommy van” which is a snide way of saying that the driver (almost invariably a woman and mother) has no life and meaning whatsoever other than caring for her kids. In other words, a woman who’s living the 1950’s in the 1980’s/90’s.
A lot of women rebelled against this. And with the SUV appearing, you now had something that was almost as practical as a mini-van, gave almost as good gas mileage, drove almost as well (no way an early truck based SUV handled as well as any car-based minivan) . . . . . but had this (supposed) image of a woman who was wild, adventurous, free, and anything but chained to her children.
Image is everything. And when the truck based SUV was watered down into the car based CUV, there now came to be a breed of mothers who absolutely wouldn’t be caught dead in a mommy van because of the image (in her eyes, anyway) it presented. And the station wagon, as being the predecessor of the minivan, was equally undesirable for the same reason. If anything, it was worse, because it harkened back to a time when the woman didn’t have a choice as to where her life would go.
The Pacifica didn’t have a direct replacement. Keep in mind that the Pacifica was the first of three American CUV’s to hit the market. The other two were the Pontiac Aztek and the Buick Rendezvous. Of the three, only the Buick sold decently well – because while the theoretical concept of the CUV had existed from shortly after the first SUV was made (“lighter duty sport utility with less weight, better handling, less off-road ability which is never used anyway”) nobody had figured out what the market wanted them to look like. And neither of those three, in retrospect, really looked anything like a second generation (say, Ford Escape) or modern (even less truck like) crossover. Because the vehicle was still evolving
If anything, all three of the aforementioned vehicles looked a lot like minivans minus the sliding doors. The GM vehicles were just that, and I’d always heard the Pacifica was heavily based on the Town & Country until disabused by today’s article. If anything, sliding second doors screams “mommy van” which is why you don’t see them used anywhere else, no matter how practical they are. No doubt, if you could put sliding doors on a Ferrari, it would probably be the least popular Ferrari ever.
It took the Lexus RX300 to define what a crossover is supposed to look like in the popular eye. It’s sales success put an end to any efforts like the Pacifica, Aztek and Rendezvous.
There was no direct replacement for the Pacifica. It was replaced by whatever post-RX300 CUV’s Chrysler/FCA came up with in the intervening years.
So it’s all down to image. And a lot of women not wanting to have to publicly admit where their lives have gone. (Yeah, that’s cruel, but until the day comes when the father actually takes at least 50% of the day to day responsibility of raising the child, it is accurate.)
Syke: Great analysis of that particular kink in our society. My wife was the same way, no minivans for her when we were raising our kids. I have one now, but it’s my car as I mostly drive it.
But the whole image thing is kind of a shame. I guess some women don’t want to be seen as their mothers. Raising kids and having a home and family are not undesirable traits, at least IMO. Besides, I’ve seen plenty of fine looking women piloting minivans.
FWIW, the Aztek/Rendezvous spurred the Lambda crossovers, and as you noted, there was no direct replacement for the Pacifica. The Dodge Journey may be the closest that car Mopar has released since then. But FCA has Jeep, so they don’t need direct replacements in the Chrysler line. Also, the RX 300 came before the U-body specials and the Pacifica and really defined the soft-roader genre in the US. The U-body specials never really competed with the RX 300.
My wife wanted to wear the mommy image with pride and demanded a minivan with out first child. But that was 1993, and I caved in in 1994 with out 2nd child in 1995.
In retrospect, it’s amazing that station wagons in general and the fake-wood aesthetic in particular hung on as long as it did.
The thing with minivans, especially Chrysler ones, is that they were ROARINGLY popular to the point that they were selling to a waiting list and only the most token marketing efforts were needed. By the time that cooled off, they had been so pigeonholed as “lifestage” vehicles that any efforts to sell them as “lifestyle” ones would’ve been a joke.
Station wagons hung on because pickup trucks were not in every other driveway like they are today.
Today’s minivan- mommy car is the SUV. Once everyone has one the segment gets defined. And not for the good.
But for some reason, the CUV has not become the new “mommy van”. I’m still trying to figure out why it has dodged the lifestyle bullet, since it’s become just as ubiquitous for a “soccer mom” or any other mother hauling children around as the minivan was in 1995.
It should be just as poison to a mother determined to define herself as “too hip for motherhood” as the minivan was.
But it isn’t. (Yet.)
I like the way you defined Mommy wagon. Sad but true. Personally I love minivans, but that’s because I’m an imminently practical person (who probably doesn’t know s*** about style or fashion but then you’d have to ask the people who tolerate me). If we had more than one replicant I would have been all over a minivan. I don’t understand the mindset of folks who shirk them – to me being a dad is my greatest role to date. But I’m also the one who buys the travel stickers and puts them on the window of the car.
I always thought the Pacifica was good looking but the heft was ridiculous. My wife had a first gen base Highlander which I loved – it was a perfectly sized vehicle for our small family.
To me, it’s still a ‘wagon’, but I like wagons. Like that color too. IMHO, though it has the now-trendy low-roof & horrible blind-spots, the styling is better than many of today’s hideous organic shapes. Aside from the poor seating and gas mileage, how was the reliability?
Happy Motoring, Mark
The chrome wheels has a tendency to leak air (a common problem with chrome wheels, the dealer told me). It spent several days in the shop to troubleshoot and ABS light as I recall.
Usually the COAL series is a little longer more in depth. I was interested to see how the ownership experience was in terms of reliability, etc. since not that many people can report on actually owning a Pacifica.
It was comfortable, spacious, and a good freeway cruiser, but it was also heavy and slow. But mostly it was bland and inoffensive and ultimately forgettable. Sometimes the prose flows like water, but honestly I struggled to come up with a thousand words to write about the Pacifica. Of the dozens of cars I’ve owned over the years, it easily ranks as one of the least interesting.
My Aunt has one of these (also the same red color) that she bought used…it replaced a “regular” Chrysler minivan…I rode in (never drove) both, and as I’m a minivan admirer (since I’m a bachelor, never owned one…so I don’t think I can claim being a fan), I preferred the regular minivan for the “random access” reasons mentioned. I’m a big guy but I still “got” to sit in the “way back” seats on both the Pacifica and the minivan (mostly because I’m still one of the younger people in an admittedly older group, only my cousins are younger than I am, with my Aunt, Uncle, and parents all in the “non-scrambler” seats)….which was way easier to access on the minivan, due both to the lower roof profile on the Pacifica and the need to flip forward and tumble the middle row seat in order to access the rear seat. I’ll admit that especially the middle row seat was way nicer than normal minivan bench seat, but at the price of practicality. I guess the market agreed, if this type of vehicle is no longer in production, must have been an expensive mistake for Chrysler especially considering the unique platform (I don’t even think Dodge offered one of these, and of course Plymouth was long gone by 2006 so I think this was just in the one brand).
I guess this might be for someone who used to have the 60’s old style (really wide) sedan where you could comfortably seat 3 people across in both seats, with luxury in addition, but now that wide passenger cars are no more, you could still seat 6 people in 3 rows if you had to (no problem if you only had to seat 4 people). But as an engineer, practical trumps luxury for me; I kept wondering how to remove all the seats if I had to put some seriously large cargo inside (especially with that center console)..never had to do it, but for me that’s also a reason for owning this type of vehicle, so again my vote goes to the minivan. At least I’m not as no-compromise as one of my co-workers who I remember saying something like “What’s the deal with these mini-vans?….if you need a van, get a van”..of course he was used to large sized, truck-based vehicles, and probably saw little reason for a crossover (especially if fuel economy wasn’t that big a differentiator).
Got news for you, Plymouth’s coming back in late ’17/early ’18 with a fierce lineup of cars and partnered with recently acquired MG. Maybe they’ve exorcised the demons that Plymouth had in the past, and presented them with a Hybrid flagship car, the GTX II and GTX II Hybrid. From what I could see, It’s sleek, AWD, and there’s a Spyder model in BOTH versions, and Ferrari’s got a hand in making sure that MG-Plymouth are doing well, and making it last.
During the time that we had our disastrous second Aztek, a buddy of mine was working for Daimler-Chrysler. He said I should look at a Pacifica thinking it may be a good replacement. I remember getting in one, thinking the outside was so huge and the insides seemed so small. I looked at a lower trim level than the one in the post, it had a bench seat in the second row. The upholstery just looked cheap but I think it would have been durable.
I remember driving it, it seemed a bit crude and underpowered. The Aztek was no race car, but even with it’s V6 and four speed autobox, it felt quicker than the Pacifica. I came away unimpressed with the Pacifica. It just seemed like it didn’t do anything much better than our then-current car and for seemingly a lot more money.
A few years later, looking at used cars, I drove one of the later versions of the Pacifica with the 4.0L and the six speed tranny. It was a much better driver, but the earlier characteristics that I didn’t care for were still there. It was nice, as it had a similar set up to Tom’s car, with the captain’s chairs and console in the back. But it wasn’t enough to convince me to buy it.
“our second Aztek”
Not often you hear people say that 😉
Very interesting cultural point on why the Pacifica should have done better. Image is everything, and people have standards. Our household uses the best tool for the job approach for family transportation, so I see at least one more minivan in my future.
I was involved in the auto industry in the early 2000’s and even the Chrysler guys I dealt with didn’t know what to make of the Pacifica. Like you they though it had an unclear mission and was too expensive.
I had a lower end 2005 Pacifica. We bought it new and between my wife and I, we drove it for 10 years and 230,000 miles. As I said this was the lower end with the 3.8 liter engine, bench 2nd row and no 3rd row. In all that time the motor mounts had to be replaced once. That’s it. My wife and youngest son were T-boned hard in it and came out unscathed. We drove the car another 7 years after getting it repaired. Fuel economy was usually 18mpg around town and regularly 24 mpg on trips. Power while not what you would call impressive was perfectly acceptable for a big wagon. For my family of four it was extremely roomy and one of the best cars I’ve ever driven on long trips. Also for it’s time it had great crash test numbers. It was based on the Dodge/Chrysler minivans but with extra chassis stiffening and a Mercedes E Class derived rear suspension with auto load leveling. If you ask the guy who owned one for 10 years it was a great car.
“It was based on the Dodge/Chrysler minivans but with extra chassis stiffening and a Mercedes E Class derived rear suspension with auto load leveling.”
None of that is true.
Here’s the thing, it actually is. The Pacifica is the Chrysler CS platform, and it shares the RS minivan front suspension and several other components. And, yes, the rear multilink setup is indeed from Mercedes.
These cars were ahead of their time. The Citadel concept was very well done, I think Chrysler should have kept that name. The main problem was when these were introduced, there was no lower priced version, so many families instead bought a minivan. The idea of a luxury crossover was very new, most people assumed they were family people haulers, not something like a MKT that came much later. When they discovered the price was so high, they moved on to something else, maybe not a Chrysler minivan.
These seem to be rather durable. Even in Michigan, I still see the odd one running around, and most look in good shape also. One feature I really liked was the navigation screen in the instrument panel. It was also ahead of its time, though a small screen. Again, this is an expensive feature that most were unwilling to pay for.
Eventually, a more affordable model (with less chrome) of the Pacifica was released, but the damage had been done. Perhaps if there had been a Dodge or Plymouth version at a lower price, the combined model would have survived and done better in the market.
The first generation Highlander was a strong seller for Toyota, on the other hand. As the owner of a 2005, it has been a very reliable vehicle and part of the “peak Toyota” era, being based on the Camry, which was a top seller and also very reliable. Recently I saw a 2006 Camry SE at a local auction with over 300,000 miles on it go for over $2,500. It was in very good shape, no visible rust, even the interior was well kept.
The Pacifica had some nice styling and looked like the quality of materials used were a cut above other Big 3 offerings, for the most part.
On the first gen Highlander: we bought the top end FWD version in late 2001 in white with a light beige leather interior and still own it… as our grocery-getter-run-to-the-hardware-store vehicle. I’ve followed the recommended maintenance schedule to the letter and it has only been serviced at the same Toyota dealer we bought it from. 230k miles later, the paint is still unblemished, and although it could use new struts, the drivetrain has been flawless, and there’s really nothing else it needs. With the exception of a small split in the left side of the driver seat, the leather looks like it would be in a 2 year old car. Very impressed with the brand, in our case.
As an aside, with 3 small children at the time, we bought a new ’87 Dodge Caravan with the 2.6 Mitsu motor and that slower than slow minivan served us well for nearly 10 years – PB&J sandwiches left in the cubby holes and all – and 110k miles. Still the most comfortable long trip runner we’ve owned.
I loved our 1st gen Highlander, although we were at the polar end from you in as we had the base model 4 cyl. My only wish would have been a power seat (I haven’t driven a Toyota yet that hasn’t needed a power seat) and a sunroof. Overall that car was a little tank and I was sad to see it go at 110k miles when my wife upgraded to a fully loaded Edge (huge mistake).
I always kind of wanted one of these. But the way I remember it, the early ones were trimmed nicely but had inadequate power. They improved the drivetrains in the later ones but decontented the interiors.
Your experience reminds me why we were so happy with our Ford Club Wagon for so long. Full random access plus gobs of cargo.
Re: only two seats in the second row … that’s why we didn’t get an Element when we were shopping for a car to conflate our Land Cruiser and Corolla wagon into a single, AWD family car. Even with a usual load of two adults and two kids, a four seater just isn’t enough for that occasional but regular need to haul another kid to soccer, or an in-law or aunt or uncle. I know families weren’t the target Element market, but it could have been much more successful with another seat (or more specifically another set of seat belts).
Absolutely right. We looked at one in 2006 but having only 4 seatbelts was a deal breaker for our family of 5. And the answer to the question “How can a Honda Fit be bigger than an Element?”
Several things may have held back sales of these vehicles and while seating and seat belts are rarely mentioned, it held me back as well.
I looked at the Pacifica in 2005. Friends had one, and I rather liked it. But, they had just two kids and I had three.
Chrysler’s configuration decisions were just plain odd. I guess in keeping with a luxury image over family, the original second row was only a two seat bucket arrangement, with a two seat third row in back.
When they finally offered a three seat second row, the third row was deleted and you could not buy a third row for any amount of money with the second row bench.
I ended up picking the Ford Freestyle at the time, with the bench second row that offered lap/shoulder belts at all three seats. It came standard with a third row that also has lap/shoulder belts.
The Freestyle was underrated in some respects, and lives on in the FLEX. While my kid hauling duties are way down, my wife and I still like the interior configurations on the FLEX enough to still consider buying one.
For a family of five, the three row / second row bench / 7 seat configuration is a must have.
Years ago, my family arrived at McCarran in Las Vegas, and I sweated out 10 lbs in 105 degree weather trying to put our luggage in a rental Chrysler 300. We could pick from our choice of cars, and we were bypassing the Pacificas because they all had the bucket second row, and we could not fit our luggage with one of the third row seats in use.
When I was just about to go back to the counter and spring for a more expensive rental, a lot porter came around with another Pacifica. I took a chance and looked in the windows, and lo! A three seat second row bench! I hailed the family, tossed our stuff in and off we went – pre cooled as the porter had the AC on.
We still missed the third row – when our luggage was at the hotel, we could have used the space to have local family join us for more visiting time.
Outside of the seating configurations, I really enjoyed our rental. It seemed solid and Chrysler’s auto stick proved both useful and entertaining as we explored the Grand Canyon and southwest.
Plymouth actually wasn’t a thing in 2006 – the last year for any Plymouth-badged vehicles was 2001. Although I bet a lot of Chrysler dealers still had Plymouth signs up.
You’re right. Memory is a tricky thing. I’m pretty sure they still had the blue and white Chrysler Plymouth signs in the building.
These were very much based on the Chrysler minivan platform, and built alongside the LWB version at the Windsor plant.
It failed for the same primary reasons so many other domestic new cars failed: their manufacturers were so self-convinced it was going to be a hit, they overpriced them. The early Pacificas were substantially steeper than what the family truckster market would bear; perhaps it was the Mercedes influence. But this was not a premium product, despite Chrysler’s failed attempt to position it as such.
Their poor reception when new tainted them, and they never recuperated.
Also, it somehow didn’t quite look “SUV”ish enough, at least at the time. It came across more as a minivan without sliding doors.
It was very similar to the Ford Flex in packaging, and was about as popular as the Flex. Nailing the sweet spot of the CUV market turned out to be trickier than expected.
“Also, it somehow didn’t quite look “SUV”ish enough, at least at the time. It came across more as a minivan without sliding doors.”
I agree. The design was low-bellied and had significantly less ground clearance than competitors. It also had quite a bit of tumblehome that diminished any SUV-ness it might’ve had.
Yet somehow the Flex is still in production. I know, I was quite surprised to find it still on the Ford web site earlier this year. It’s being discontinued at the end of the year without a replacement, but 2009-2017 isn’t a bad run for what is rather a niche vehicle. I guess it did just enough of a better job than the Pacifica for it to hang on, and once the Pacifica was discontinued, it was differentiated enough from its more “organic” CUV rivals by its squareness and unabashed “big wagon” style.
Works out for me as I could see a Flex in my future if circumstances demand it, and this means newer used examples with less wear and tear available.
“The segment was basically created by Japanese makers looking to cash in on the US SUV boom. Lacking any suitable truck platforms, these makers lifted and butched up their cars to have something to sell to SUV crazy Americans.”
I’d say it was a little more targeted than that. The Japanese had plenty of truck-based SUVs (except, perhaps, Honda and Subaru). In the late nineties and early 2000s, the Japanese expanded their BOF-SUV portfolios, but also knew that these new car-based SUVs were a worthwhile market, too. (There had previously been unibody SUVs like the Cherokee, but they tended to be rugged and RWD-based, emulating BOF SUVs). I don’t think the Japanese or anyone else quite anticipated the shift in the market toward crossovers, and how it basically killed the mid-sized BOF SUV niche—the only ones left are the Toyota 4Runner, its Lexus GX460 sister, and to a lesser extent the Jeep Wrangler and wildly-overpriced Mercedes-Benz G-Class—but cars like the RX, MDX and Murano were extremely well-thought-out, and were put on unibody-FWD structures out of choice, not desperation.
“Unlike other crossovers, the Pacifica was not built on a jacked up car platform. It was built on a bespoke platform, not shared with any platform that I know of. This lack of platform sharing is likely why the Pacifica wasn’t more successful: The dedicated platform dictated uncompetitively high pricing, and low profit margins. Well Chrysler’s loss was our gain.”
No, the Pacifica wasn’t based on a sedan, per se, but it was on the contemporary Chrysler minivan platform. But unlike GM with the Pontiac Aztek and its slightly-less-hideous Buick Rendezvous sister, Chrysler managed to give its minivan-based SUV relatively-good styling. What’s really funny is that people tend to think the Pacifica was based on the Mercedes-Benz R-Class…DaimlerChrysler’s other minivan-like SUV. Of course it wasn’t…even if it did crib the Mercedes-Benz tactic of putting the seat controls on the doors.
I actually think that Chrysler could benefit from a Pacifica replacement now. Sure, keep the RWD-based Durango and Grand Cherokee, but maybe utilize that CUSW platform to build a seven-seat Chrysler crossover, and make it look good. When even Jaguar is making crossovers now (the F-Pace and the upcoming E-Pace electric vehicle), Chrysler could stand to have at least one.
Sorry, the writer is correct. The Pacifica was built on it’s own platform. The platform was not, in any form, used for any other Chrysler product.
The Pacifica was on the GS platform, a variant of the RS minivan platform. They had some related engineering.
I did used to think that the Pacifica and R-class were platform twins since both (IIRC) bowed after the acquisition. I guess it should have occurred to me that, despite the similar-ish styling, they were different sizes and might not have had enough lead time for that to be possible.
…and, having created and fed this fatuous and silly objection, Madison Avenue proceeded to sell a remedy: the “crossover”, which is nothing less or more than a renamed station wagon, or (as you note) a minivan minus the convenience.
Occasionally—fleetingly—I wonder what it’s like to live in such slavish fear of what one imagines other people think of one’s choice of automobile.
Having done the minivan thing, my opinion is they are overrated in some respects.
I purchased a new 1999 Chrysler Town and Country. Even as luxury minivan, it was noisy, bus-like, had a high center of gravity, and wasn’t equipped to tow the boat we eventually bought. It did excel at hauling a crew with every seat full, but that made it a bit short on luggage space. The T&C had the shortest tenure in my garage of any vehicle I’ve ever had.
We switched to a crossover and SUV and have almost never looked back. The exception being a few rental Toyota Siennas. They have impressive luggage space even with the third row seat in use. But, I appreciate this capability only a few days every few years – perfect for a rental!
I remember looking at one of these at the Chrysler display at our local mall. The EPA fuel consumption numbers did not look good to me. Your highway results of 18 MPG is not good. My 2007 SRX (AWD) with a 4.6 liter Northstar V8 (RWD version) would give me about 20 to 22 MPG on long trips at 70 MPH. The SRX was not slow either, as the 6 speed automatic could get to 70 in the first 2 gears very quickly. I could easily go from 65 to 90 passing a semi on the interstate. While I had a third row, it was mostly for kids.
This LINK is for my SRX at the Fuel Economy.Gov webpage. The 19+ MPG is for all of my driving up to June of 2010 after which I ended up at the Mayo Clinc for several months of chemo, so I quit updating till the next car.
Unless I missed it, I’m surprised no one has mentioned the very similar Toyota Venza, which came on the scene the year after the Pacifica was discontinued.
I often would semi-seriously think of a way to justify buying a Flex. I find them handsome, distinctive and seemingly practical, not to mention a bit of nostalgia as a modern version of the Country Squires of my youth. The Pacifica? Not even close. Ditto with the Edge.
Interestingly, the only person I know who owned a Pacifica replaced it with a Venza.
Chrysler recently revived the Pacifica name on a new minivan that replaced the Town & Country. And the Pacifica name was used as a trim of the FWD K-Car based Dodge Daytona from around 1987-89.
I’ve always rather liked Pacificas.
I’m not sure why, because overall, I’m NOT a fan of the SUV.
The original Pacifica is a great car. I still have my second one. It’s 10 years old and still looks and rides great. I love it.
I had one as a rental one weekend about a decade ago. And it left me with two realizations:
1. It’s a bloody gas hog.
2. As to driving dynamics, it made a Camry or Corolla seem very, very interesting.
I was so happy to give it back to Enterprise. I enjoyed it’s replacement Hyundai Accent very, very much.
We had a 2004 Chrysler minivan which my wife hated, but I liked with three kids in car seats…..it sure was practical and pretty luxurious as well (it was a Limited with all the options, including nav, AWD and sunroof). So when the Pacifica came out, we were both excited….here was something we could both like that could carry all the kids and their stuff. The first time I looked inside one, I thought “well, this will never work for us”. What a dumb seating arrangement for a family car. I think it severely limited their sales.
As I recall, when the Pacifica came out Chrysler thought they had a Lexus RX300. While not terrible, the Pacifica was underpowered and the 3.5 liter V-6 was not as smooth or powerful as Toyota’s V-6. The first Pacificas were heavily optioned and comparatively high-priced, but really not competitive with the RX300, although they were priced similarly.
It took Chrysler a while to figure out the problems. They added the more powerful 4.0 liter V-6 to the option list. Lower-trimmed and lower-priced models with fewer options hit the showrooms, but by the time they did, the initial enthusiasm for the vehicle had waned and many potential customers had moved on to other vehicles.
Although they aren’t actually related (but it sure doesn’t look that way) the Mercedes R class was in that same boat of, “What the hell is this thing?” At least with Chrysler they are known for minivans so an SUV/minivan looking CUV kinda makes sense. I actually kind of like the old Pacificas. It’s just too bad Chrysler ended up ahead of the game but wildly optimistic as to what their schtick value was.
The first time I saw an R class, I was immediately put off by the idea that Mercedes was actually making a minivan. The fact that it’s not a minivan but some sort of wagon/car/SUV bastard didn’t really help.
I’ve never worked why but i always liked the look of these. Probably, the sense of practicality without the bulk of a minvan or an full SUV, a car I never really “got”. Effectively, I see this as a tall for comfort, 3 row, 6/7 passenger sedan/wagon.
Looks good, and especially in that red
Would it be fair to classify this Pacifica as a MPV?
Surprised no one has mentioned the subframe corrosion issue. A co-worker bought one, I think a 2005, used in 2013 after his Mazda 3 hatch was totaled. He liked it well enough other than its high gas consumption, but a year and change later, came in fuming that his mechanic told him the vehicle was unsafe to drive and was basically an accident waiting to happen. The front subframe has rusted to the point where it was about ready to break in two. Evidently this was a known issue and Chrysler issued a limited recall, but it only applied to vehicles that had spent their lives in areas which saw road salt usage over some percentage of time (this van had been in the DC metro area) and within a certain age. For whatever reason his didn’t qualify. So he was forced to sell it as a fixer/parts vehicle and lost several grand compared to what he’d paid for it less than two years earlier. He went back to Mazda, purchased a lightly used 5, and never looked back. Their other vehicle is a Dodge Caravan and he said that when it was time to replace it, there was no way he’d consider another Chrysler product.
I don’t know if it’s just Chrysler, but my brother’s Ram’s frame rusted through in 8 years (the truck was still spotless in every other aspect; the rust rendered it undriveable and had to be parted out), and his wife’s Caravan lost the back strut frame housings to rust after 11 years. Needless to say they’ve moved on from being long-time Chrysler owners….