This weeks test car is the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country Limited Minivan. Surely this tried and true mini van family vehicle has earned a place in the market. Practical buyers (women) will opt for this “real” Utility vehicle, while (I believe) Macho men buy the SUV myth it will help him win the war. What war you ask? Funny, that’s the same question I ask all the time. Yes, I like driving SUV’s off road over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house. But that only works in storybooks. Few SUVs, if any, will ever get dirt under their nails.
So dads want the SUV and caring moms want Minivans like this Town and Country. It is, however, interesting to watch consumer demand cause the evolution of these two vehicles toward a “Crossover” combo of both SUV and Minivan. Carmakers are responding to Dads “want” and moms “need”.
Handling & Performance:
Quite good in the turns through the San Gabriel Mountains in what I call the “Crest Test”. The lower center of gravity helps it to handle better than the higher profile SUV.
This is one class of car that is pretty homogeneous and you gotta believe this is the first attempt at cloning.
Fit and Finish:
Chrysler has come a long way baby and I’m happy to report this is a good representation of improvements made over the years to cars generally. But in a recent test of some new product, often flawed of course, some of the trim was so poorly designed and installed I expected it to fall off in my hand. That is not the case with the Town & Country.
Here’s a very good reason why you’ll notice the high quality of presentation of this T&C. It is at the high end of the price tags of the competition.
If it isn’t on this minivan they don’t make it… well almost. The gadgets are cool and most are very functional like the power sliding side doors.
Do the family a favor and buy the Mini Van instead of the SUV unless you cave easily to peer pressure. I know, when the guys come over to watch the Super Bowl game you want to have a Macho Man’s SUV in the driveway. After all you may need to head outback to hunt a lion or tiger or bear… oh my! But if you listen to your wife you’ll buy the Mini Van and save on gas and the little people in your family will thank you for how easy it is to get in and out of. The rear seat video center will be the frosting on the cookies.
If you don’t have a family at home you may still remember how convenient the minivan was when you did tote the kids about. Today’s demographics tell us that older buyers are coming back to the minivan for the convenience they remember. Golf outings, picking up the grand children or getting your aging mom and dad to and fro will be convincing to older buyers.
Town & Country $21-36,000, Chevrolet Venture $28-37,000, Pontiac Montana $26-30,000, Kia Sedona $21-23,000, Mazda MPV $22-29,000.
Comfortable, good handling, good fuel economy for a 7 seat vehicle, easy stow seats, power sliding doors that also work well manually and generally an overall positive influence and image from Daimler/ Mercedes Benz – good reason Chrysler is the only American manufacturer making money.
Clunky shifting (in the vehicle I tested, so see what you think when you test drive it).
3.8 liter V6 207 hp engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, dual front and side curtain air bags, tire pressure monitor and warning signal, rear back up sensors, power liftgate, power sliding side doors, 4-wheel anti lock disc brakes, latch ready child seat anchor system, traction control, 2nd row bucket seats with rear 60/40 rear split folding bench seat, rear air conditioning and heating, 3-zone climate control with air filtration system, power adjustable pedals with memory settings, heated front bucket seats, power front seats, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer, steering wheel mounted cruise control, tilt steering column, overhead console and storage bins, removable center front console, stereo with in-dash 6CD player with DVD feature, GPS Navigation, steering wheel mounted audio controls, memory system for radio, drivers seat and mirrors, vanity mirrors on sin visors, auto headlights, vehicle security system, sunscreen glass, folding heated power mirrors, fog lights and roof rack. If this isn’t enough there are some options the most useful of which is a rear seat Video system for the kids. Wow, that’s a mouthful!
18 City and 25 Highway MPG
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