A Study In Beige: 2005 Chrysler Pacifica vs 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix

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Good morning! Whaddaya say we check out some cheap cars? Sound like a plan? OK. So let’s take a gander at yesterday’s results, and then we’ll get to it.

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You folks and your Subarus. I just don’t get it. But then, I wouldn’t really want that Hyundai either. I guess I have to agree with the “I vote neither” contingent on this one. Anyway, let’s move on, shall we?

Today’s choices don’t have much in common besides approximate age range and color. Or lack of color, I suppose. Honestly, I’m OK with these two in beige. I like nice brightly-colored cars, but sometimes it’s nice to fly under the radar. So let’s check them out and see which way you’d rather travel.

2005 Chrysler Pacifica – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.5 liter SOHC V6, 4 speed automatic, AWD

Location: Vancouver, WA

Odometer reading: 130,000 miles

Runs/drives? Very well, the ad says

Remember when nobody had ever heard the term “crossover” as a style of automobile? You’d look at something like the Chrysler Pacifica and think, “What the hell is that? It’s not a minivan, it’s not an SUV, it’s not a station wagon, but it’s kinda all those things.” Little did we know that within a decade, every damn car on the road would look just like them.

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I mean, it looks like a really nice place to be on the inside: plenty of room, comfy seats, lots of gadgets, a nice high seating position, but it’s hard to look at this car now and see it as anything but the start of something bland, the beginning of the end for sedans and small hatchbacks alike. But then, video killed the radio star, and minivans killed the station wagon, so maybe it was inevitable that crossovers killed normal passenger cars.

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At least it’s got a big hatchback, and once you fold down or ditch the superfluous seats, it’s got plenty of cargo room. This early Pacifica is powered by a 3.5 liter version of Chrysler’s single-overhead-cam V6 that first came along in the LH sedans, and a four-speed “Ultradrive” transmission. This one has all-wheel-drive, making it a good choice for lousy weather.

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It’s in decent shape, with only a few dings outside, and no real visible wear inside. The seller says it runs and drives well, and it only has 130,000 miles on it. The Pacifica had some reliability issues early on, but if this one is as clean as it sounds, it could make a nice comfy winter beater for someone.

2007 Pontiac Grand Prix GT – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: Supercharged 3.8 liter OHV V6, 4 speed automatic, FWD

Location: Snoqualmie, WA

Odometer reading: 209,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep

And here we have one of the vehicles that crossovers killed off: GM’s venerable W-chassis, a line of midsized cars dating back to the Mesozoic Era, powered by a pushrod cast-iron 90 degree V6 that’s even older. But if it ain’t broke, as they say, don’t fix it. Just stick a blower on it and give it flashy new styling.

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The V6 in question is, of course, the legendary 3800, here in Series III guise, and with an Eaton supercharger bolted to its intake. This engine is good for 260 horsepower, which you’d think would be plenty for a front-wheel-drive sedan, but no, Pontiac offered a 303 horsepower V8 in this thing as well. We build excitement in the form of torque steer!

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This slightly-less-bonkers GT model has 209,000 miles on its clock, but seems to have held up well. It has some wear and tear in the interior, and the ad describes a few electrical gremlins that need sorting out, but it runs and drives fine. GM has never been known for quality-feeling interiors, but at least this one looks pretty nice, and I like the two-tone effect.

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Outside, it looks pretty good as well, though I will always hate those add-on spoliers, especially ones that don’t go the full width of the car. It just looks stupid, and it doesn’t do anything beneficial. And if you take it off, you’ve got holes in the trunk lid to deal with. One of many reasons I generally prefer the base models of most cars.

Either one of these looks like a decent viable beater to me. The Pontiac would be a little more fun, the Chrysler a little more practical. Which one suits your needs better?


(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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60 Responses

  1. If recent memory is correct the Pacifica is from the ill fated Chrysler/Mercedes Merger of Equals in the early 2K years. As such it would maybe be a better engineered car, but then the competition here is a frickin’ GM pos? Sometimes the devil you know is the best choice?

  2. Well lower miles more room and less advertised problems, id go Pacifica but prefer my 2001 Isuzu Vehicross an earlier CUV with better styling more dependable and yellow.

    1. Ive got a 99 Trooper with the same 3.5, the same 4L30-E, and the same TOD 4×4 system. As much as I love the Trooper for all its character and quirks, dependable is not a word I would use to describe it.

  3. Gimme the 3800. Even though it will guzzle premium unleaded around town like your Uncle Jim guzzles Wild Turkey before Thanksgiving dinner. But stay out of the boost and it should be at about 30 mpg highway. GM also made a few million W-bodies so parts and know-how are in abundance.

  4. If you need the extra room and the awd, go with the chrysler, but if you want a basically trouble free ride with good mpgs, that will last until the earth is no longer habitable, you always gotta go with the 3800.

  5. Pacifica, it’s more meh, But it’s also more useful. No hate for Pontiacs, just thinking about needing a wagon to haul stuff makes it the lesser of two mehs.

  6. I’ll take a Buick 3800 over some crappy Chrysler V6 any day of the week. Also, supercharger noises. Gearbox may be a problem, but it is better to have problems with part of the powertrain rather than all of it.

  7. I had an ’05 Pacifica in slate blue-gray with gray leather. I kinda liked it; it seemed pretty classy at the time and I loved the versatility. My kids (who were tweens back then) called it “the man van” among other things. On the other hand, I recently borrowed an ’03 Impala for a few days and was reminded how plasticky and “meh” GM cars from this generation were. I’m sure the supercharger would dispel some of that, but I’m going with the Pacifica on this one.

  8. Why not both? The Pacifica would be a good winter beater, at least until the transmission inevitably takes a crap. The Pontiac, I’d do some bolt-ons and run the piss out of it.

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