Seats, switches, and surfaces
The Chrysler's interior is much improved over last year's model, with nicer materials and more stylish trim, but the audio and climate controls still lack the thoughtfulness and integration behind those in the Odyssey and the Sienna. Quality also isn't as rich as in the Japanese vans. The door switches, for example, are illuminated in a dated yellow-green while the center stack is lit in blue-green. We do, however, adore Chrysler's carlike center console that is taller and farther forward than those in the other vans, offering easier access to storage bins and cupholders. The Town & Country's Stow 'n Go second-row seats have been repadded for more comfort, but they still sit a bit low, the cushions are slightly short, and the entire seats shake when empty.
Our Nissan Quest was a stripper relative to the well-equipped Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler minivans, without leather, navigation, or rear-seat entertainment. We do know from previous experience that Nissan's navigation system and control layout are among the best on the market. So it's surprising that the climate controls are poorly placed and too small to be easily accessible. From the driver's seat, the slab-sided Nissan feels a bit like driving a bus, with its upright, faraway windshield and a high dash. In the rear, it feels like the smallest of the four, with tight legroom in the third row.
Both the Honda and the Toyota can seat eight, but if you're planning to use the middle-row center seat, the Odyssey provides a wider, more comfortable chair. The Honda also boasts the ability to fit three child seats in the second row. The outboard seats, however, are most comfortable in the Toyota, with generous padding and a nice contour to the seat bottoms. The materials in the Sienna aren't quite as deluxe as those in the Odyssey, but it has some unique dash graining and the controls are logically placed such that it is functionally and objectively competitive with the Honda.