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Chrysler adopts a European character

The 2007 Chrysler Pacifica takes its luxury lessons from Mercedes-Benz.

The 2007 Chrysler Pacifica

In the 2007 Pacifica that got dropped off for our review this week, it's obvious that Chrysler is taking luxury lessons from Mercedes-Benz. From all the cars we've seen at CNET Car Tech, I'd pretty much come to the conclusion that Cadillac was the only American car company getting it right. But then I got into the Chrysler Pacifica. Here are my first impressions of this car.

The most obvious cue from Mercedes-Benz are the power seat controls, set in the door and shaped like a seat. These types of controls make it unnecessary to probe blindly for buttons somewhere down the side of the seat. And the seat-shaped buttons make it more than obvious how to move the seat's back and the lower cushion. It's a nice little detail.

The navigation screen is in the speedomoter.
The navigation screen is in the speedometer.

Nice dash materials, suede seats, and high-quality wood insets don't hurt the interior look, either. If you are used to driving a Mercedes-Benz, you won't feel like you've gone down-market much in the Chrysler Pacifica. When I first got into the car, I looked at the center stack and was pleased with the dual DVD/CD changers, but lamented the fact they hadn't seemed to include the navigation option. But when I started the car, a nice little map appeared right in the center of the speedometer. The passenger can't act as navigator with this arrangement, but they shouldn't have to when you're using a GPS system. The system is easily programmable and its points-of-interest database includes all sorts of retail establishments, something frequently missing in navigation systems.

The DVD screen drops down from the ceiling.
The rear-seat DVD screen drops down from the ceiling.

Above I mentioned two DVD/CD changers. The lower one is intended for DVDs, displaying the picture to the rear-seat screen. While the kids watch movies, the parents can listen to music from the top changer. Both changers play DVDs, CDs, and MP3 CDs, so you could put 12 MP3 CDs in and probably have enough music for a few trips across the country.

The Pacifica's four-liter V-6 isn't the most technically advanced, but it has plenty of power to push this car around. The six-speed automatic will help fuel economy, but the engine could probably be more efficient. I'll have our observed mileage in our full review. But the Chrysler Pacifica has made a very positive first impression, with lots of good tech and a very comfortable interior.