What's New for 2008
The 2008 Chrysler Pacifica evolves with only minimal changes this year. As with other Chrysler products, the vehicle is now covered by a limited lifetime powertrain warranty.
As a vehicle that blends the attributes of wagons, minivans and sport-utilities, the 2008 Chrysler Pacifica luxury crossover succeeds in appealing to many different types of customers. It's a more stylish and better-handling vehicle than a typical people mover, yet it still has room and utility for up to six passengers.
Following a significant update last year that included a freshened interior and exterior, increased power and more standard safety equipment, the Chrysler Pacifica enters 2008 with only minor changes. Carrying over on most Pacifica models is a 253-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 introduced last year that addressed the sluggish feel of the smaller V6 that preceded it. We've found that it's considerably more responsive and satisfying overall, and highly recommend it for most buyers over the base 3.8-liter V6 in the front-wheel-drive LX.
Overall, the 2008 Chrysler Pacifica crossover wagon remains a respectable solution for consumers seeking an alternative to the typical minivan or SUV family hauler. Even though it has been out for a few years now, the Pacifica still ranks highly in terms of handling, features and safety. Some potential buyers might be concerned about reliability -- earlier Pacificas were below average -- though it's likely improved since. Plus, Chrysler now includes a lifetime powertrain warranty. We've also found that it's not quite as roomy as its closest competitor, the Ford Taurus X, nor larger crossover SUVs like the similarly priced Saturn Outlook that get near-equal gas mileage. Still, for an easy-to-drive crossover wagon, the Pacifica is certainly worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Chrysler Pacifica comes in three trim levels: base LX, Touring and Limited. All trims are available in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive versions. The standard features on the LX trim include 17-inch steel wheels, five-passenger seating in two rows, dual-zone air-conditioning, remote keyless entry, fully power accessories, power front seats and a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. Upgrading to the Touring model provides foglamps, six-passenger seating in three rows, automatic temperature control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, satellite radio and an upgraded audio system.
The top-of-the-line Limited trim adds 19-inch chromed aluminum wheels, body-color fascias, a power liftgate, a sunroof, rear parking assist, laminated door glass, leather upholstery, heated front and second-row seats, wood trim, driver seat memory and a six-CD changer. Some of these features are available on lesser trim levels; other major options include a navigation system with a back-up camera, entertainment group with rear video screen, a premium Infinity surround-sound system, Bluetooth hands-free technology and xenon headlights.
Powertrains and Performance
The base front-wheel-drive Pacifica LX model has a 3.8-liter V6 producing 200 hp and 235 pound-feet of torque. It's hooked up to a four-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive LXs and all Touring and Limited models feature a much stronger 4.0-liter V6 that generates 253 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, backed by a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. EPA-estimated fuel economy for 2008 is similar for all models regardless of engine choice and drivetrain, ranging from 14¬-15 mpg in the city to 22-23 mpg on the highway. This mileage is slightly worse than large crossover SUVs like the Saturn Outlook and Mazda CX-9.
All Chrysler Pacificas include antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, full-length side-curtain airbags and a driver-side knee airbag. The 2008 Chrysler Pacifica scores a perfect five stars in the government's frontal- and side-impact crash tests, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Pacifica a top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Among crossover wagons, the Pacifica is a relatively upscale, well-appointed choice. The base Pacifica LX offers seating for five with a three-across second-row bench. Touring and Limited models feature second-row bucket seats and a split-folding third-row bench that accommodates up to six passengers in a two-two-two arrangement. Getting in and out is surprisingly easy thanks to a low entry height and upright seating. Both second- and third-row seats fold flat to optimize versatility. However, tight legroom in the third row means it's best used for small children only. Cargo room is generous, with a mammoth 92 cubic feet of maximum space in the LX and nearly 80 cubic feet in the Touring and Limited models (due to the third-row seat).
The 2008 Chrysler Pacifica delivers carlike handling from its Mercedes-Benz-sourced suspension and inspires more confidence than typical minivans and truck-based sport-utilities. Steering feedback is solid and precise, though some drivers might have an issue with excessive body motions over bumps. Pacificas with the smaller V6 labor under acceleration due to the hefty curb weight, though pickup with the 4.0-liter V6 is entirely adequate. Overall, the Pacifica provides more driving smiles than you might expect from such a versatile family hauler.