Town & Country: reinforcing Chrysler at the top

  • By Mary Lowry Automotive Reviewer
  • Friday, November 2, 2007 10:59am

Oh Larry Lark, honey, I so hoped — but of course didn’t expect — that you’d have a lively barb in retaliation against me last week. Instead, you come back with the hackneyed “didn’t take her meds” — a funny crack the first time it was uttered by someone, about 10 years ago. Our readers deserve better VALUE than that, don’t you think, Lare?

While you struggle for an answer, I’ll get on with today’s review.

Chrysler invented the minivan, and since its launch in 1983 has sold almost 12 million of them.

For 2008, the Town &Country (along with its cousin the Dodge Grand Caravan) is wholly remodeled, with 35 new or improved features designed to turn it into what the company is calling “a family room on wheels.”

Among these features is an ingenious, all-new Swivel ’n Go seating system, in which the second-row seats can turn 180 degrees to face the third row. A removable table installs between the two rows. When not in use, the table stores out of sight in a second-row floor bin. There is uncovered storage in the third row, and those seats fold into the floor for a flat cargo area. Offered as optional equipment on the Town &Country, and a minivan exclusive, is a one-touch power folding third-row 60/40 bench seat.

Another arrangement, also exclusive in the minivan market, is the Stow ’n Go seating and storage system, offering second- and third-row fold-in-the-floor seats. Power operation for the third-row seat is available with Stow ’n Go, too.

Both seating systems are a Rubik’s Cube of seemingly infinite different configurations for passenger seating and cargo carrying setups.

Storage compartments, consoles, bins, cupholders and pockets are positioned in every available space throughout the new Town &Country. There’s even an umbrella holder.

In recognition of the unbelievable mess a kid can make of a car’s interior, the Town &Country comes standard with Chrysler’s upscale YES Essentials seat fabric, which is stain- and odor-resistant. It’s also anti-static.

There are three different Town &Country trim levels: LX, Touring and Limited. The LX has a 175-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 with a four-speed automatic transmission; the Touring comes with a 197-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 and six-speed automatic; and the Limited’s standard powertrain is a 4.0-liter V6 generating 251 horsepower, paired with a six-speed automatic.

EPA fuel economy ratings, in the same order, are 17/24, 16/23, and 16/23. Get used to seeing lower numbers like these on all ’08 vehicles, which are calculated under a new rating system.

The total number of Town &Country’s standard and optional features is dizzying and all-encompassing, ranging from something as simple as an analog clock to things as space-agey as Sirius Backseat TV, dual DVD entertainment system, and MyGIG multimedia infotainment system.

The functionality of the Town &Country goes without saying, but this new version’s exterior design, with more clearly defined edges and the appearance of a lower stance, is one of its best features. It now looks more like a large wagon than a traditional minivan — it’s the first minivan I didn’t feel like a dweeb driving — and it actually turned a lot of heads.

When a book sells in the multimillions, discriminating readers are suspicious of its worth. But when a motor vehicle sells like that, it’s a reliable indicator of the vehicle’s ability to deliver the goods.

Chrysler’s leading position in the minivan market will be strongly reinforced by this latest version.

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