The Town & Country scores well in government crash tests (five star frontal), although it doesn't earn the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety's highest award. (Japanese rivals, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, do.) All Town & Country models have standard front airbags, and full-length head curtain airbags are standard on the Limited and optional on the other Town & Country models. A driver-side inflatable knee bolster is standard. A sliding-door alert system activates the external hazard lamps when the doors are activated. Anti-lock disc brakes are standard on all but the base model, while low-speed traction control is standard only on the Touring and Limited models. Stability control is unavailable-a glaring omission given that both Toyota and Honda offer it.
The base Town & Country and the LX are offered only with Chrysler's anemic and dated overhead valve 3.3-liter V-6 engine that makes 180 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. The Touring and Limited benefit from a larger, if still old-fashioned, 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 207 horsepower and 238 pound-feet. Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Neither engine matches those of Japanese rivals for power or smoothness, but at least fuel economy is decent.
Behind the Wheel
No one is going to be intimidated by driving the Town & Country. Although, at 200.5 inches overall, it is pretty big, it drives small, thanks to precise, light steering, good brakes, and nimble responses. It isn't exactly sporty to drive, but most soccer moms and empty-nesters won't care about that-they'll be more interested in the well-controlled, smooth ride, and the refined highway performance. The only real flaw with the Town & Country is that the engines are wheezy and coarse at the top end, and the van doesn't get up and go with the same alacrity as the Honda and Toyota minivan offerings, which have more powerful, more modern V-6 engines. (Honda boasts 48 more horsepower and slightly better fuel economy.) The four-speed automatic transmission lacks the smoothness of the best five-speeds on the market, too.
One of the best features of owning the Town & Country, as compared with some of its competitors, is that there are plenty of Chrysler dealers around the country. And the company now offers a more enlightened warranty, with 70,000-mile coverage on the powertrain, more generous than its main rivals' warranties. No roadside assistance is available, however.
For minivan owners who embrace an active lifestyle-and we suspect there's many a family who uses their Town & Country for vacations and camping trips-this Chrysler has a decent tow rating. Both the short- and long-wheelbase vans can tow up to 2,000 pounds without the optional tow package, and a very useful 3,800 pounds with it, sufficient for a camper trailer.
Covering a wide price range, the Chrysler Town & Country brings luxury and storage innovation to the minivan segment. But while the T&C packs the features minivan buyers want, based on 20 years of owner feedback, it doesn't possess the polish of newer competitors.