Expectations were high that Chrysler would emulate Honda's celebrated stow-away rear seats, but it didn't happen. Without revealing all of their thoughts on the subject, the Chrysler crew stayed the course set in 1996, when roller-skate wheels were mounted beneath removable seats to facilitate their movement, both inside the van and to a parking spot in the garage. But they did at least take the ax to the third-row bench, every hernia surgeon's favorite friend. Splitting that seat into two equal-sized pieces not only diminishes the in-and-out drudgery; it also provides added flexibility when you're juggling people and packages.
The logbook also registered a few mechanical-system rants. The steering felt slightly rubbery and nonlinear off-center, the automatic transmission was too easily confused, and we complained about the body's tendency to rock back on its heels during heavy acceleration. Operation of the on-demand four-wheel-drive system was so transparent that it generated few comments. Our design director had a ball hammering through drifts during one snowy commute to work, and associate editor Joe DeMatio praised the sure-footedness he observed while negotiating his steep, slippery driveway during winter months.