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