2007 Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler's Pacifica at Blair Field, Long Beach

You're never going to win prizes for being on the cutting edge of style, but you could always emerge from the back seat of a Chrysler Pacifica looking every bit the movie star having traveled to a party or premiere in a level of comfort that would make a regular limo-crawler blush.

So pleasant was the enormous cabin of the Pacifica I took for a week's spin that, feasibly, you could join the many, many other Angelenos that live in their cars and not be that much worse for wear.

Limo-esque front end

I jest, but the sentiment remains: this minivan is as well appointed as a Newport Beach show home. You'll notice as soon as you step in that the leather-trimmed suede microfiber is soft, very soft, and a cut above some of the cheaper faux-leather fabrics used most often by carmakers to give a luxurious feel on the cheap.

And the leather trim extends to all six seats, which sit around an aisle - yes, it's that big - which boasts all the central consoles that one needs to hold drinks, kids toys, DVDs etc on long or short journeys. With the DVD screen overhead, and said aisle, you do get the feeling you're in one of the comfiest jetliners ever built.

All the seats are split-fold and can therefore be arranged in multiple ways depending on your load. Its 79 cubic feet of cargo space can accommodate skis inside the vehicle or a snowboard or surfboard, both of which will appeal to a younger target market Chrysler is intent on tapping.

Then again, when I first came to California I was astonished to find the median age of surfers out on the waves at Manhattan Beach was closer to 50 than 20.

At the beach or in the mountains you'll appreciate the dual-zone automatic temperature controls, standard on the Touring and Limited editions, which could also help keep kids happier, and therefore less boisterous, on longer rides. Otherwise, plug them into the DVD player with a set of headphones - works for me.

Other things that work for me include a ten-way power adjustable driver's seat and satellite radio on the upscale variants.

Lots of room at back

Good lines front to back

A novel experience for me was the navigation system inset into the dash, inside the tachometer. This is a great idea, as it means you're not taking your eyes off the front line of sight to examine a screen that all the way to your right. Chrysler tech whizzes also topped out the innovation by making it one of the most user-friendly sat-nav systems around, and it includes a rear-view camera.

You'll also find that, apart from the kids in the back, the cabin is very, very quiet, adding to that feeling of gliding in a limo. Chrysler's sound engineers have worked hard to minimize residual noise and vibration of the Limited Edition's 4.0-liter silky smooth SOHC (single overhead camshaft) engine, new for 2007 and produced after a $155 million upgrade to Chrysler's Trenton, Michigan, plant.

Peace of mind also registers highly with an established brand like Chrysler and the Pacifica in 2007 was top dog in IIHS frontal crash safety tests. Alongside this, the Pacifica packs all-row side curtain airbags, electronic stability control and ABS.

One thing to be aware of, and this may help you secure a better deal if you mention it, is that 2008 is the last year the Pacifica will be in production. You may be able to knock something off its $24460 to $35825 MSRP.

And you'll be very happy with your purchase. Just don't be too tempted to fall sleep in it.

High trim levels

Check out the center aisle

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