The Chrysler Town & Country is a great vehicle for families that need to haul people and cargo on a regular basis. For maximum passenger and cargo space, a minivan is hard to beat, and Town & Country’s seating options are among the best in the class. And its controlled handling makes for a nice driving experience. Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan sales account for nearly half of total minivan sales.
For 2015, Chrysler Town & Country gets two new trim levels: The 2015 Town & Country LX features leather-trimmed seats, Stow ‘n Go seating and rear backup camera, while the 2015 Town & Country Limited Platinum tops the model line with Nappa leather upholstery, heated seats front and second-row, power sunroof, dual-screen Blu-Ray video system, and a SafetyTec package. A total of six 2015 Chrysler Town & Country trim levels are offered.
There are no other major changes for 2015. The last complete redesign of Chrysler’s minivans was for the 2008 model year. Ever since the interior revisions made for 2011, the Town & Country look is more elegant, interior materials are richer, the gauges look better, and soft-touch door tops are used.
Town & Country comes with one engine: a 3.6-liter V6 that generates 283 horsepower. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 17/25 mpg City/Highway, right on par for this category, which includes Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
Today’s Town & Country sits lower than it did a few years back, and its suspension is stiffer, to make it more controlled. The ride is quite smooth, with no evidence of wallow or float. The Town & Country S furthers this road-behavior characteristic with its sports suspension.
The Stow ‘n Go seats tuck nicely into the floor, and when they’re up, the floor bins offer extra storage space. The rear seats fold into a well behind them, allowing a perfectly flat, voluminous rear storage area. With the third-row seats up, the storage well provides space for groceries and other small cargo.
Entertainment choices include rear-seat TV, DVD or DVD/Blu-Ray players, a powerful stereo, and iPod connectivity. While the dashboard is mostly plastic, so are those in most minivan rivals.
Chrysler Town & Country is offered in one long-wheelbase body style. Its size and cargo capacity are comparable to that of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Each model comes with two power sliding side doors and a power rear liftgate.
Visually, the Town & Country has not changed much in the past few years. The styling is boxy, with a pronounced front end that offers a hint of an SUV-like appearance. The roof is wide at the top, also contributing to the boxy look.
The grille design connects the Town & Country with the Chrysler 300 sedan. Along the sides, the Town & Country has chrome moldings. At the rear are a roof spoiler, LED taillights, a bright metal step pad, and chrome trim. The roof rack comes standard with crossbars that stow in place to aid aerodynamics when not in use.
Town & Country S editions get a black chrome grille, Chrysler winged badges, black rear steps, 17-inch aluminum wheels with polished faces, and blacked-out headlamp bezels.
Front-seat room and comfort are typical for a minivan. The front captain’s chairs afford an upright driving position with an SUV-like view of the road. Headroom is plentiful, and leg space will only be lacking for the tallest drivers. The driver’s seat is comfortable, though its cushion is on the harder side, compared to some.
Space also is bountiful in the second row, which is reasonably comfortable, though not as appealing as the buckets in most competitive minivans. The second-row bucket seats don’t slide forward and back, but the back folds forward and the seat tips up to allow access to the third row, all with the pull of a lever.
The third-row seat will fit three kids or two adults, with room that’s par for the class. The third row folds into a well behind it, either manually or by power, to create a flat load floor. With the seat up, the well provides great storage for groceries, with 33 cubic feet of space. Overall interior and cargo volume is class competitive. With all the seats down, Town & Country has a spacious 143.8 cubic feet of cargo volume and can accommodate a 4×8 sheet of plywood. There’s still 83.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Finally, the Town & Country has a number of entertainment features in addition to the radios. It offers single and dual rear DVD entertainment options. The single screen is located in the second row. The dual-screen version adds a screen for the third row. With the dual-screen system, one screen can be tuned to TV while the other can play a DVD or video game. Front passengers can listen to the radio while rear occupants watch a DVD or TV. For additional connectivity, Chrysler offers Uconnect Web, a mobile wi-fi router, as a Mopar accessory.
On the road, the Town & Country cruises quietly, thanks to the smooth engine and ample sound-deadening measures.
Even though plenty of improvements have been made to Chrysler’s minivans over the years, the basic driving experience remains remarkably similar to that of earlier models, dating back as far as 1996. That was the year when Chrysler dropped the original square-box profile, in favor of a larger, more rounded look.
For shoppers who lean toward minivans, or are at least considering the possibility, that sense of familiarity is a benefit, not a detriment. Chrysler served as the benchmark for minivans for a long time. Even though others caught up, on various levels, Town & Country is still a potent force in this waning field.
The Chrysler Town & Country is tall, heavy and long, which makes it a bear to handle in tight quarters and on winding roads. On the plus side, it’s much better controlled than pre-2011 models were, with less body lean. Retuning the suspension that year, and lowering the ride height by an inch, made an appreciable difference.
The Town & Country still leans a bit in turns but not annoyingly so, and it gathers itself promptly enough. The steering requires a bit more effort than might be expected in a minivan, but it inspires confidence. All told, handling falls in line with the Honda Odyssey, which is the sportiest minivan.
Occupants can expect a generally smooth and comfortable ride, with easy recovery from imperfections in the pavement. Chrysler’s minivan irons out most bumps well, and only the sharpest of ruts will crash through to give the passengers a start. The long wheelbase helps prevent larger humps from causing up-and-down motions, and the suspension is free of any floaty sensation. Still, it’s not as smooth as the Toyota Sienna, which rides almost like a luxury car.
Overall, performance from Chrysler’s 3.6-liter V6 is class-competitive. It’s smooth and quiet, offering decent punch from a stop, with enough energy in reserve for passing and merging. However, it doesn’t feel as powerful as the 283-horsepower figure would suggest. That’s odd because this same engine feels stronger in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The 6-speed transmission doesn’t seem to communicate well with the engine, or react very well to the driver’s right foot.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 17/25 mpg City/Highway.
The Town & Country offers a couple of available safety features that are worthy of note.
The Blind-spot Monitoring system uses radar sensors to detect vehicles in the van’s blind spots and warns the driver via lights in the side mirrors or a driver-selectable chime. It works well, but like similar systems offered by other manufacturers, it can sometimes give false readings. It’s still important to look before you change lanes.
The Rear Cross Path system is activated when the van is in reverse. It uses radar sensors to detect vehicles crossing behind the Town & Country, and warns the driver with lights in the side mirrors and that same chime. The system won’t detect small objects, such as pedestrians, so it’s still important to proceed slowly. It does, however, detect vehicles up to about 65 feet away, and is programmed to recognize the speed of oncoming vehicles and alert the driver only if they are traveling at a speed that could lead to an accident (in other words, stationary and very slow-moving vehicles probably won’t register). We like this system. It works well, and we found it especially useful in parking lots.
Chrysler Town & Country is quiet, reasonably powerful, well controlled, nicely appointed inside, and comparatively fuel-efficient. Town & Country is one of the most family-friendly minivans on the market. Bonuses include unique and handy seating and storage features, as well as entertainment options. Pricing is comparatively high, but Town & Country is among the nicest and most luxurious of minivans.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Kirk Bell filed this report from Chicago. James M. Flammang reported on the Town & Country from Chicago.