— Denise Greco

While it's not your typical "Soccer Mom" van, there's plenty of room for carpool duty.

The Pacifica is available in three models — base, Touring, and Limited. The base and Touring versions are available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, while the Limited is strictly all-wheel drive. The base model comes with five-passenger cloth seats, CD player, keyless entry, and full power accessories. The Touring version includes 17-in. alloy wheels, third-row six-passenger seating, automatic climate control, and a 10-way power driver seat. Add on a monochromatic interior, power moonroof and lift-gate, 19-in. wheels, and heated leather seats to the Touring package and you've got the Limited version. For our test drive, we had the Limited model.

For entertainment, you can upgrade to a 385-W Infinity audio system, Sirius Satellite radio, or a rear-seat DVD system. There's also a DVD-based navigation system with the screen located in the instrument cluster.

I found the acceleration a little "soft" at start-up, but once you get going, watch out. With a little nudge, the 3.5-liter V6, 24-valve, MPI engine with single-overhead cam puts out 250 hp and 250 lbin. of torque.

As for safety, the Pacifica received a five-star rating for front and side-impact protection when equipped with the optional side-curtain air bags. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a "Best Pick" in its frontal offset crash tests. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard on all models and a tire-pressure monitoring system is available (standard on the Limited).

Inside the Pacifica, you'll be treated to a quiet and comfortable ride. Faux wood and aluminum accentuate a two-tone color scheme. The Limited version now features second-row captain chairs that are just as comfortable as the front seats. On the downside, space in the third row is tight and there's only 13 cu ft of cargo space behind them. With the seats folded down, cargo space increases to 79.5 cu ft.

Base price for the Limited version is $36,785. Options on our test vehicle included SecureShield laminated door glass ($300), navigation system with GPS ($1,695), Sirius Satellite radio ($195), UConnect hands-free communication, automatic-dimming rearview mirror ($275), and a rear-seat entertainment video system ($990), raising the price to $40,970 (with a $730 destination charge). All in all, the Pacifica was great to drive and perfect for a midsize family.