As the modern minivan, invented by the Chrysler
Group, celebrates its 21st birthday, its most luxurious model is celebrating 16 years of setting the standard of luxury for the minivan market.
The 2006 Chrysler
Town & Country minivan offers lush amenities, impressive flexibility, and a safe and comfortable environment for its occupants.
A great deal of success for Chrysler
Group's minivans can be attributed to being innovative. Chrysler
is known for offering minivan buyers many "firsts" in this segment.
In 1990, with the introduction of the Town & Country, Chrysler
became the first company to offer a luxury minivan.
In 1996 Chrysler
became the first company to offer a driver-side sliding door and easy out roller seats on its minivans.
In 2001 Chrysler
became the first to offer a power liftgate and three zone temperature controls.
Last year, Chrysler
became the first company to offer Stow 'n Go seats. With Stow 'n Go seats, the second-row bucket seats and the third-row split bench (60/40) may be folded into the floor. Chrysler
made sure for convenient operation by allowing this to be accomplished without removing any headrests. Also, the rear bench can be flipped around to offer rear-facing seating for tailgating.
And because there is a well in the floor where the seats fold into, there is plenty of extra storage space when the seats are in use.
I'm a huge fan of Stow 'n Go. With Stow 'n Go, the Chrysler
Town & Country is a remarkably versatile vehicle, albeit a minivan.
I don't have a problem driving minivans, especially those outfitted with loads of amenities including rear DVD entertainment systems.
I also appreciate minivans like the Town & Country for their sliding rear doors. They make it so much easier to load and unload, particularly when parked between other vehicles.
However, the power sliding rear doors on our Town & Country tester would only open if the button on the remote or vehicle were depressed. Grasping either the inside or outside handle put the door in manual mode.
Other minivans with power sliding doors that I've tested worked automatically once the door handles were actuated. I'd have preferred our Town & Country's power sliders to work in that fashion.
The luxurious Chrysler
Town & Country offers four trim levels: base, LX, Touring and Limited. The base model is the only offering with a standard wheelbase as the LX, Touring and Limited are extended wheelbase models.
Base models come equipped with many creature comforts and are powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine. Stepping up to the LX model adds Stow 'n Go seating.
The Touring model adds dual power-sliding doors, power liftgate, power driver seat, ABS and a 3.8-liter V6 engine.
The top-of-the-line Limited model is further upgraded with three-zone automatic climate control, leather seats with ultrasuede accents, a DVD-based navigation system, rear park assist, three-row side curtain airbags and an Infinity audio system.
A rear DVD entertainment system is optional on Touring and Limited models. My tester was a Limited model with the rear DVD entertainment system.
As expected, the kids enjoyed going for rides in our Chrysler
Town & Country Limited tester as they could watch movies or hook up their favorite gaming system and play video games.
When parked, it was nice to be able to hide the gaming equipment and other valuables in the compartment that hides the second-row seats.
Rated at 205 horsepower, the 3.8-liter V6 in my Town & Country Limited tester felt a bit underpowered, particularly when loaded with my entire family of six.
When compared to others in this segment, the 3.8-liter V6 is a bit light on power. Also, the standard 4-speed automatic transmission is outclassed by 5-speed units.
Unofficially, expect to see a 6-speed automatic transmission available on the next generation of the Town & Country. The Town & Country offers a pleasing, quiet ride. I can't think of a better vehicle for family outings than a minivan like the Chrysler
Town & Country.
Town & Country Limited
Engine: 3.8-liter (205 hp) V6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Drive Type: FWD
Fuel Economy: 18 city/25 highway
Base Price: $35,935
As Tested: $37,850 (includes $730 for destination)