The Limited's cabin is trimmed in leather upholstery with woodgrain and satin accents. There's a great-looking electroluminescent instrument panel and an attractive center stack. All climate and audio controls are easy to find and use. The Limited's driver is treated to a two-position, power-adjustable seat-and-pedal memory. The Town & Country has but seven cup holders, whereas some competitors have reached into the mid-teens, but we think seven is plenty. The removable center console offers two power plugs for cell phones or whatnot, but the large internal compartment is awfully deep and not all that useful because there's nowhere to keep your cell phone in easy reach when it's closed. The cabin's main downfall is the quality of the switchgear and plastics used; compared to the new Honda Odyssey, it looks a bit slipshod. But it is perfectly functional.
Even though the suspension isn't the most advanced in its class, the Town & Country handles agreeably; the plush ride comes from years of refinement. The steering feels heavy at low speeds, but once under way, you stop thinking about it other than to note you have a good sense of the road surface. Driving the Town & Country is always a pleasure and never saps your confidence. Labrador retrievers don't come any more civil than this.
Despite all these positives, it's necessary to point out a variety of shortcomings, mostly owing to the age of this platform dating to 1996. For example, the small navigation display that's optional on the Touring and standard on the Limited is squeezed into the spot where the radio lives and as a result the screen is tiny and hard to see. Taken altogether, the instrument panel and center stack have too many different, unmatched LED and LCD displays. The sliding side doors lack integral pockets for storage of mitts or maps, and the windows are fixed in place. Access to infotainment from the second and third rows is limited, so don't plan on playing games on the DVD screen. A compromise forced by the adoption of Stow 'n Go seating is the use of marginally practical, breakaway cup holders on the outside of the second-row chairs. And finally, run-flat tires are not offered; changing a flat means lowering the spare from its position at the forward part of the undercarriage, and this lowering takes place by means of much cranking on a T-handled contrivance used inside the cabin. We recommend calling roadside assistance.
A crack DaimlerChrysler design team is re-doing the corporate minivan family for 2007 or 2008. This new generation will address the above issues and probably set some new standards. Meanwhile, we still like the 2005 Town & Country on the important points. Stow 'n Go seating and the quiet interior prove quite compelling. This classic minivan more than manages to compensate for its senior status.