Chrysler's SRT brand racing for autism
The Dodge brand has become a regular competitor in the legendary Targa Newfoundland but for the 2011 rally event along the eastern coast of North America, Chrysler's newly formed SRT brand will have three vehicles racing to raise money for autism research ? with brand CEO Ralph Gilles leading the trio into battle.
While these three SRT models are being raced to show off their sporting heritage and high performance capabilities, the Targa Newfoundland rally is about more than just cars and racing. Each year, the race helps to raise money for the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (ASNL) and this year, the SRT brand is working extra hard to help out, adding a donation link on their popular brand website to raise money for the Autism Society. The company's goal is $50,000
2011 Chrysler T&C Review by Edmunds
The highest-ranking member of Chrysler's family of front-wheel-drive minivans, the Chrysler Town and Country has long appealed to families and empty-nesters seeking a practical vehicle with a dash of luxury inside and out. Early T&Cs satisfied this desire with wood-grain decals, leather seats and a standard V6 engine, while the current model offers amenities like a navigation system, tri-zone climate control and a power-operated liftgate. Since its introduction for 1990, the Chrysler Town and Country has shared all of its mechanicals with its less upscale Dodge siblings, the Caravan and Grand Caravan, and that carries through to the current generation.
Over the years, some of the Town and Country's amenities have been truly ground-breaking. The T&C has offered Stow 'n Go, a seating system that provides fold-flat capability for both the second- and third-row seats, as well as in-floor storage compartments when the seats are occupied. They were also the first to offer driver-side sliding doors. But in other aspects, the T&C's features list has often been a step behind the competition. It was among the last minivans to offer essential features like stability control and a rearview camera. Reliability concerns are also perpetual. Overall, the T&C may be Chrysler's finest, and this year's van is no doubt the best yet, but there are typically better minivans on the market.
Current Chrysler Town and Country
The Chrysler Town and Country has been thoroughly overhauled for 2011. Though the exterior has a more refined appearance, the interior receives the lion's share of attention -- and it needed it. The original low-budget passenger cabin has been replaced with an elegant new design and upgraded materials that both look and feel noticeably richer. There have also been a number of functional improvements here, too, including Stow 'n Go second-row seats that have been redesigned with greater comfort in mind.
Less obvious, but no less important, are the mechanical changes lurking beneath the updated sheet metal. The combination of an all-new 283-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine and a nicely recalibrated suspension make driving this new Town and Country a much more enjoyable experience.
The Chrysler Town and Country comes in three trims: Touring, Touring-L and Limited. Even the base model is well equipped, with automatic headlights and wipers, a power tailgate, rear parking sensors, power-adjustable pedals and driver seat, a touchscreen stereo interface and Chrysler's innovative Stow 'n Go seating system. The two upper trims can be equipped like proper luxury vehicles with heated leather seats, heated steering wheel and xenon headlights. There are also a number of special minivan features available like rear window shades, a power-folding third row and a twin-screen entertainment system with Sirius TV.
In reviews, we found that the overhauled Chrysler Town and Country is a vast improvement over its predecessors. Despite its many advancements, though, we still found that other minivans were ultimately more appealing due to their more refined driving manners, an eighth seat and a better reputation for reliability. However, even if the T&C isn't our first minivan choice, it's still worth a look.
Used Chrysler Town and Country Models
The current fifth-generation Chrysler Town and Country debuted for the 2008 model year. These 2008-'10 vans are similar to the current model, though they lack all the updates made for 2011. These T&Cs suffered from cheap interior materials and poor build quality. The base engine was lethargic, and the other optional engines weren't much better. Driving dynamics were also lackluster. So while Town and Countrys produced for 2011 are an appealing minivan choice, earlier ones from that generation are not recommended.
Originally for the current generation, there were three trim levels: LX, Touring and Limited. Powering the LX was a 3.3-liter V6 producing 175 hp that was paired to a four-speed automatic transmission. Touring models got a 197-hp 3.8-liter V6, teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. The most appealing choice was the 4.0-liter V6 that powered Limited models. Paired with the six-speed transmission, the engine put forth 251 hp and endowed the van with respectable quickness.
Another notable difference between the current Town and Country and those produced prior to '11, was the optional second-row Swivel 'n Go seating system. This consisted of second-row captain's chairs that turned 180 degrees to face the third row for card-playing and such. It was a neat trick, but there was scant legroom when two adults faced each other. The Stow 'n Go seating was also not as comfortable as it is on the new van.
For an older van, you'll mostly likely encounter the fourth-generation Chrysler Town and Country that was sold from 2001-'07. It was offered in regular- and long-wheelbase sizes. From 2001-'03, the short-wheelbase vans were called Voyagers (following the demise of the Plymouth brand), but since then all Chrysler-brand vans have been badged as Town and Countrys. Chrysler fiddled with the trim levels several times during this generation, so used-minivan buyers are likely to come across many different trim level nomenclatures.
Base models came with most essentials, though antilock brakes were optional. The midlevel trim was your ticket to the Stow 'n Go fold-flat seating system. Lower trims came with a 180-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6; in editorial reviews, we noted that this engine moved the van adequately around town but felt breathless at highway speeds. A stronger 3.8-liter V6 good for 215 hp was offered on midlevel and premium trims, making these better choices for most buyers.
The Chrysler Town and Country was one of the few minivans with an all-wheel-drive option, but this was discontinued for 2005. This was also the first year you could get side curtain airbags; in previous years, only front seat-mounted side airbags were available. One negative aspect of the fourth-generation Town and Country model was its inconsistent reliability.
Prior to this was the third-generation Town and Country, which was sold from 1996-2000. Although reliability is again an issue on these vans, if you find one with a clean bill of health, it could still be a good source of family transportation.
The third-gen T&C was sleeker and more refined than most minivans of this era. And, along with its Dodge and Plymouth siblings, it was the first minivan to offer a driver-side sliding door, which gave parents the flexibility to load up the kids from either side of the van. The best years to look at are 1998 through 2000, when an upgraded version of the 3.8-liter V6 (good for 180 hp) was available. Other than spotty reliability, safety was the major shortcoming on the third-generation Town and Country. Crash test scores were mediocre across the board and side airbags were not available
200 Receives Car And Drivers Approval
Just last week, we took our first turn behind the wheel of the heavily reworked 2011 Chrysler 200 sedan. The former Chrysler Sebring underwent a very quick 12-month transformation, with nearly everything but the roof and the doors being replaced or redesigned. So we can give pretty solid predictions of what is hiding beneath the camouflage in these spy shots of the 200 convertible.
On the droptop 200, expect to see the same reworked front end, including the new grille, hood, fenders, fascia, and headlights housing LED accents. The rear should receive the same treatment as the sedan, with LED taillights bridged by an attractive chrome strip. We caught this mule wearing a cloth convertible top, but because the car keeps the same overall structure as the Sebring?and the two tops use the same mechanism with different skins?we expect to see the folding hardtop return as an option.
Changes Where it Counts
We're trying to avoid sounding like a broken record, but in this case, it's impossible. Like the sedan, the 200 convertible will welcome the new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 deploying its 283 hp through a six-speed automatic transmission. (Also like the sedan, it should retain the base 2.4-liter four, which is to be avoided.) To improve on the old Sebring's atrocious ride and handling, we're anticipating a similar approach to that which has greatly livened the sedan: lowered suspension with stiffer bushings, higher spring rates, and thicker anti-roll bars, as well as quicker steering. The interior will be greatly improved; like many other new Chryslers, the 200 will get a new one-piece, soft-touch dash pad accented by other high-quality plastics and chrome dressings.
We can say from firsthand experience that the 200 sedan is much improved over the car it replaces, and we're looking forward to seeing those changes make their way to the 200 droptop.
CHRYSLER 300 PASSES THE TEST OF TIME
Like Cher, the Chrysler 300 just keeps making comebacks. A proud and prestigious vehicle during the 1950s, the 300 fell into anonymity during the '60s and then disappeared from the automotive landscape for more than 30 years. For the mid-2000s, though, Chrysler introduced its new 300, and it represented a bold new direction for the brand.
The 300 was an immediate hit thanks to its retro-inspired styling, powerful V8 engines, rear-wheel drive and refined road manners. Consumer interest did start to wane after a few years, but Chrysler is going for another comeback this year with a redesigned 300 that features a more powerful base V6 and a higher-quality interior. Overall, we like the 300 and find it to be a solid pick for a new or used large sedan.
Current Chrysler 300
The Chrysler 300 is a large five-passenger sedan with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. It's been designed to appeal to consumers desiring something with a bit more personality than a regular family sedan or as an alternative to popular Japanese or European entry-luxury sedans. Some of the 300's underlying mechanicals are derived from Mercedes-Benz technology, and it's a platform sibling to Dodge's Challenger and Charger.
Though it may look like the car it replaces and has the same general underlying architecture, the current 300 differs significantly. Besides the interior overhaul, the structure has been stiffened, the steering is now electrically assisted and the suspension has been recalibrated for better ride quality and more composed handling. Chrysler also added an abundance of sound-deadening materials to create one of the quietest cabins on the road.
The 300's styling is unmistakably American, though with an added dash of refinement after its 2011 redesign. The large chrome grille, bejeweled headlights, high beltline, bulging fenders and big wheels give it a strong presence on the road. A long 120-inch wheelbase shortens up the front and rear overhangs and opens up plenty of occupant space on the inside. Cabin dimensions are generous in all directions, and the 300 offers more legroom than most of its competitors.
Its overall interior design has been described as simple but elegant. More importantly, that interior is now decked out in high-class materials that are pleasing to behold and touch. Even in its least expensive form, the 300 feels like a luxury car.
There are three trim levels: base, Limited and 300C. The base and Limited 300 come with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 292 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic are standard. Standard equipment includes niceties like automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, automatic dual-zone climate control, a power driver seat and a touchscreen interface. Moving up to the Limited nets you (among other things) a rearview camera, heated front seats, Bluetooth and an upgraded sound system. Many additional features are available to make the 300 just as luxurious and well-equipped as luxury sedans that cost thousands more.
The 300C trim comes standard with many of those aforementioned items plus a 5.7-liter "Hemi" V8 that produces 363 hp. Rear-drive and the five-speed auto are standard, and the V8 can also be matched to all-wheel drive. While this engine provides impressive acceleration, most drivers should be perfectly content with the V6.
On the move, the new 300 glides down the road in a way reminiscent of a big Mercedes-Benz sedan. Its suspension dampens even heavily rutted pavement with sophistication, yet it does so without being overly soft or floaty. Handling and steering are also impressive. The only significant downside to the car is compromised rear visibility