I’m of the mindset that there’s always a solution to any given problem, and that solution doesn’t always have to be detrimental to the one who’s in a spot of trouble. Just because there’s a “way out” doesn’t mean it has to suck -- glass half full and all that nonsense.
So, when you suddenly find yourself with 3.1 children, two dogs, hockey practice, house renos, and weekend family camping plans more often than outings to the bar with friends, you’ll take a second look at your sedan in the driveway. What to do?
Everyone’s first thought is: minivan. I’ve addressed this myth for a minivan need in my top 10 minivan alternatives list, however, if it truly is a minivan you want -- and I do mean want -- then you’ll do well to consider the Chrysler Town & Country.
What is a Chrysler Town & Country?
In layman’s vulgar terms it’s a tarted up Grand Caravan. Introduced in 1990, the T&C is Chrysler’s luxury answer to the Caravan. Now in its fifth generation, the T&C was always regarded as more up-scale than the Dodge Grand Caravan and/or Plymouth Voyager.
2014 Chrysler Town & Country Price and Specs
Where the Dodge Caravan is the go-to minivan in the segment, the T&C offers a few more high-end bits and bobs that raise the average price and also limit the number of options and models available (there are four to be exact).
At the “bottom” of the barrel sits the Chrysler Town & Country Touring model starting at $34,695 (excl. tax and other fees). Now, my particular tester was the cream of the crop, top-of-the-line T&C Limited. Dressed to the nines with all the bells and whistles including NAPPA Luxury Leather trimmed bucket seats, the Limited starts just over the $40k mark. My exact tester touched the $43k zone, and was very well appointed.
No matter which model you choose to drive off in, you’ll be powered by the same engine that sits in the Dodge Caravan: the 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6 coupled with a 6-speed automatic. Power is sent to the front wheels only.
Driving the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
I’ve really only driven one minivan that didn’t feel like a minivan at all, and that was the Honda Odyssey. Surprisingly it was light, nimble and car-like. I chalk that up to it being a Honda. That’s what they do.
That is not, however, what Chrysler does. Quite the opposite, in fact. Sure, this thing can haul butt with 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, but it has a lot of butt to haul. The T&C feels like the Biggest Loser on their first sprint on the treadmill. Sure it means well and wants to go faster but it’s just too big.
The steering is just as laborious and weighted. “Slow and steady” became the motto while I drove the Chrysler Town & Country. No sudden movements or fast maneuvers allowed in this puppy; but then, why would you want to if you owned a T&C and had your 3.1 children and Golden Lab in the back?
While the ride is comfortable and rather smooth, I did feel disconnected from, well, everything. This is not a “driver’s” van by any stretch of the imagination. I would suggest all those who actually enjoy being behind the wheel but desperately need the seating space to head over to Honda.
Inside and Out of the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
If nothing else, this is one manly looking minivan, as oxymoronic as that sounds. The exterior look is quite stately, with plenty of chrome bits and bobs and Chrysler’s sophisticated new logo stretched across the front grille. In Limited trim you get up-level 17” polished aluminum wheels, and HID headlights. Truthfully, there’s not much more one can say about the exterior look of a minivan. It is what it is.
As for inside the Chrysler Town & Country, well there’s most definitely more than enough space. The NAPPA Leather seats are supremely comfortable, and the captain chairs up front and in the second row make for a dignified driving and seating position.
All the required technological bits are present including back-up camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth and optional equipment (on the Limited model) includes: dual Blu-ray DVD entertainment system, power sunroof, and power folding 3rd row seating.
Minivans are bought for their sheer interior volume and the Town & Country offers that up in spades -- but that’s not really news to anyone.
Comparing the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
Chrysler’s main competition lays in its own stable in the Dodge Grand Caravan. True, the Caravan might be more of the working-man’s minivan, but it offers the same power under the hood and can be decked out to the nines just as a T&C can -- and it’ll cost quite a bit less in the end. Oh, but you won’t get as much chrome detailing…