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2004 Chrysler Pacifica Minivan

Description: Minivan
Base MSRP Range: $28,845-$32,300 Invoice Price Range: $26,527-$29,602

The new Chrysler crossover sport utility vehicle is large -- as long as the biggest sedan and equally wide, with a prominent hood and broad grille consuming the face between corner clusters of projector-style headlamps. It has lots of doors -- a pair of portals on each flank plus a top-hinged liftgate at the rear. Inside there are three rows of seats with individual buckets for rows one and two and a split bench in back that cradles two comfortably or three in a pinch. Layout of the cabin mimics the plan of an old station wagon, but it's also similar to the cab of a modern minivan or even a three-seat sport utility vehicle.

Chrysler is making two versions of Pacifica, one oriented with front-wheel-drive (FWD) and the other with on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction. First to market in the 2004 line is Pacifica AWD with premium equipment plus luxury gear. It has a 3.5-liter V6 tuned to 250 hp and tied to an automatic four-speed transaxle with Chrysler's AutoStick, which brings shift-it-yourself choices like a manual stick only without having to ply a clutch. Pacifica's AWD system enhances tire grip. The center differential viscous coupling combined with an open rear differential splits the engine's torque between front and rear wheels infinitely depending on wheel slip, with anywhere from zero to 90 percent of the power directed to the wheels up front.

Then factor in a load-leveling rear suspension mechanism, which adjusts to varying weight for passengers and cargo to optimize the ride quality. Designers aimed to create a first-class experience for passengers in Pacifica's cabin. It contains premium equipment, including first and second row center consoles with seat-mounted armrests, power controls for the front buckets and a comprehensive memory for the radio and driver's seat plus outside mirrors and adjustable pedals.