Itís part SUV, part minivan.

First introduced for the 2004 model year, the Chrysler Pacifica offers consumers sport utility versatility with lots of flexibility options for carrying both passengers and cargo.

Available in front- or all-wheel drive configurations, Chrysler has added a new 4.0-liter V-6 to the Pacifica lineup for the 2007 model year.

During my week-long test drive, I was extremely impressed with the Pacificaís performance (the test vehicle was equipped with the new V-6 powerplant mated to an all-new six-speed automatic transmission).

Producing 253 horsepower and 262 lbs.-ft. torque, the single overhead-cam V-6 is a power machine.

On more than one occasion I squealed the tires when accelerating from a dead stop. I wasnít trying to and that wasnít my intention. I just gave the pedal the amount of pressure I though would be required to get the 4,720-pound Pacifica moving.

While this is a crossover between an SUV and minivan, when equipped with the 4.0-liter V-6, it has the heart of a sports car.

Using regular unleaded gasoline, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and is certified as a Low Emissions Vehicle.

The 4.0 V-6 is the standard engine on all models except the front-wheel drive base Pacifica, which is equipped with a 3.8-liter V-6 (200 horsepower/235 lb.-ft. torque) and mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Requiring mid-grade 89 octane unleaded gasoline, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and is certified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle.

Both powertrains have a maximum tow capacity of 3,500 pounds.

Another impressive aspect of the Pacifica is the diversity of the lineup ó which ranges from the base front-wheel drive to the fully loaded, everything but the kitchen sink Limited all-wheel drive version ógiving consumers lots of options to meet both needs and budget.

Consumers can opt for two seating packages: a two-row, five-passenger version or a three-row, six-passenger configuration.

Available in three trim lines ó Pacifica, Pacifica Touring and Pacifica Limited ó the lineup has a base price starting below $25,000 for the front-wheel drive Pacifica ($27,930 for AWD).

The ultra plush Pacifica Limited has a base price of $31,155 ($36,205 for AWD).

Standard features include dual-zone climate control system, Infinity audio system with CD player, four-gauge instrument cluster with analog clock, illuminated keyless entry, power eight-way driverís seat and four-way front passenger seat, power locks, power windows with one-touch up, power heated foldaway mirrors, rear window wiper/washer, cruise control, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, among others.

Touring models add six-passenger seating, HomeLink universal transceiver, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power 10-way driverís seat, illuminated vanity mirrors and vehicle information center.

Limited models add 19-inch wheels, premium audio system, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, heated front- and second-row leather seats, ParkSense rear back-up system, and power adjustable pedals with memory, auto dimming mirrors, power liftgate and power moon roof, among many others.

Itís also loaded with a bevy of standard safety features which include electronic stability program, ABS, dual front airbags, all-row side-curtain airbags, driverís side inflatable knee blocker and tire pressure monitoring system.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at neal.white@waxahachiedailylight.com.