After flooding the market with crossovers, SUVs, and family-friendly haulers that were marketed as anything but minivans, automakers appear to be rediscovering and rededicating themselves to the minivan segment. To its credit, Chrysler never left — instead, it pushed to find new ways to refine and evolve the minivan concept with the Town & Country. While the basic architecture of the current model dates back to 2007, last year’s overhaul ushered in some welcome changes. We’re happy to report that the anemic 3.8-liter V-6 is gone; a new 283-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 now provides ample power to move the 4621-pound vehicle. Engineers extensively retuned the suspension, replacing the soft, floaty demeanor of the old van with a firm, vaguely European feel. Undoubtedly, the best news lurks behind those dual sliding doors: the rock-hard blocky plastics that dogged previous Town & Countrys are largely a thing of the past. Soft-touch materials run throughout the cabin, and a new dashboard — which incorporates a waterfall center console — is both elegant and ergonomically pleasing. Fold-flat second- and third-row seats are standard, although optional new “quad” second-row buckets add extra bolstering and adjustability in an attempt to increase passenger comfort. We’d love to see Chrysler improve the feel of its switchgear and reduce ambient road noise, but by and large, the 2012 Town & Country feels more like a premium minivan than ever before.
Trim Levels: Touring, Touring-L, Limited
Body style: Minivan, 7-passenger
Engine: 3.6L V-6, 283 hp, 260 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 163.5 cu ft
Cargo space: (behind third/middle/front seats) 33.0/83.3/143.8 cu ft
Not much is new for 2012, given that the entire vehicle was extensively overhauled last year. For the first time, leather seating surfaces are now standard on all three trim levels. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system — previously part of a $1300 option package — is now included on all trims.
Dual multistage front and side air bags, side curtain air bags for all three rows of seating, and a driver’s knee blocker air bag are standard, as are ABS, traction control, and stability control. A reverse camera is standard on all trims; blind-spot detection, rear cross-path detection, and rear park sensors are optional on the Touring models but standard on Touring-L and Limited models.
All: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway
- Attractive, upscale cabin
- V-6 offers plenty of power
- Flexible seating options
- Doesn’t shed minivan stigma
- Considerable road noise
- Lacks polish of competitors
Same face-lift, but more family-friendly.
- Honda Odyssey
- Kia Sedona
- Nissan Quest
- Toyota Sienna