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The Chrysler Town & Country is one of the best minivans you can buy; but it doesn't make perfect sense quite like its near-twin over at Chrysler's Dodge division. It's a luxury minivan, which runs counter our idea of how minivans should be used. To us, a minivan needs to be able to go from four 10-year-olds to four Costco cartloads in nothing flat; the Town & Country can do it, but its leather seats and $30,000-plus features might never look the same.
The Town & Country is the companion piece to the Dodge Grand Caravan. (For more information on that top minivan pick, see TheCarConnection's 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan page.) In the current plan, the Town & Country is the premium offering--so while the Dodge van has a special edition priced below $20,000, the Chrysler minivan starts at about $30,000, in the search for the same upscale buyers that regularly put their money down on the competitive Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey family haulers.
Redesigned in 2011 along with the Dodge, the Town & Country gets its own grille and interior, but shares its V-6 drivetrain, steering, suspension, brakes, and safety cell with the Grand Caravan. Some Caravan options are standard on the Chrysler--must-haves like Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and Stow 'N Go seating, which puts both minivans on a flexibility pedestal in the segment. Stow 'N Go means the two rearmost rows of seats can be folded into the floor, turning the Town & Country into a tall package van in a matter of seconds.There's not so much visual space between the Dodge and Chrysler vans from the sides or rear, but in front, the Town & Country makes its pitch for discerning buyers with a winged logo and a discreet grille. It's still a square-jawed, upright vehicle, but the slightly softer look plays well. The Town & Country also has LED taillamps to distinguish it from the Grand Caravan. The cabin has more striking differences from its companion models: the instruments are ringed in chrome, and so are the major controls, and the overwhelming plasticky touches of the pre-2011 minivan have been completely excised. It's a rich look, punctuated by the analog clock that's meant to ape the shape of the grille.
The Town & Country's drivetrain mirrors the one in the Grand Caravan. It's a 283-horsepower V-6, coupled to a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. (Among minivans, only the Toyota Sienna still offers all-wheel drive). The powertrain is fine for toting a full family around from mall to mall, and the steering responds a bit more quickly than before. Ride and handling are oriented around safety and security: it's softly tuned, and the suspension bounds more than the fairly responsive Odyssey and Sienna. The V-6 delivers good acceleration, but gas mileage remains near the top of the segment.
The Town & Country is offered in Touring, Touring-L and Limited trims. Most of the features offered as options on the Dodge are standard on the Chrysler, including power windows for front and side doors; power locks and mirrors; power side doors, tailgate and pedals; automatic headlights; garage door opener; a 115-volt outlet; Stow 'N Go; leather seats; and a power driver seat. Bluetooth and a USB port are standard. A safety option package includes parking sensors, rearview camera, and blind-spot monitors. Options include a sunroof; a navigation system; in-car wireless internet; a DVD entertainment system; and pushbutton start. There's also a Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system with an HDMI input and twin USB ports for gaming and charging.
Both Chrysler minivans have earned a four-star rating from the NHTSA.