2005 Chrysler Town & Country
This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2010.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Minivans are becoming known more for their comfort and convenience features than how good they actually are as vehicles.
For example, does the minivan have seats that disappear into the floor, a good DVD entertainment system to keep the kids quiet, power sliding doors and a power tailgate? How many airbags are offered, and how many stars were earned in the latest minivan crash tests?
Of secondary concern are such things as steering, handling, ride, braking and engine performance. Chrysler sold underpowered minivans for years, but they were so popular that they almost replaced the station wagon.
Some minivans are better than others, but as long as they have enough power not to get run over and stay on the road with a minimum of effort—well, that's OK with their buyers.
Most minivans are roomy, so that attribute is taken for granted. There often are regular and extended-length minivans, which is the case with the early 2005 front-wheel-drive Chrysler Town & Country minivan—essentially an upscale version of the new Dodge Caravan minivan.
Prices begin at $20,330 for the base model, which has a 3.3-liter V6 and is the only regular-length version. Extended-length versions are the $24,770 LX, $27,070 Touring and the $35,070 Limited.
The base model essentially is a price-leader version but is fairly well equipped. The LX adds newly developed fold-away second- and third-row seats and anti-lock brakes. The Touring adds a larger 3.8-liter V6, traction control and items including rear air conditioning and heater, power sliding rear doors and a power tailgate.
The Limited adds leather upholstery, a new rear obstacle detection system and power adjustable pedals. It has enough items to qualify as a luxury car.
Extras include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the power adjustable pedals and a power sunroof.
New Safety Items
Nobody expects a minivan to be stylish, but the Town & Country is fairly sleek without stepping too far out of the minivan design mold, which mainly calls for boxy, conservative styling.
The Town & Country offers all the desirable comfort and convenience minivan features, with its new fold-away seats for the extended-length versions being one of the most highly promotional items.
New Fold-Away Seats
The folding seats cost DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler group a lot of money, but are needed in the battle to remain a strong force in the minivan market.
Then there's all the other equipment, such as the DVD system and power doors and tailgate. Chrysler has built more than 10 million minivans, so it knows how to get that stuff right.
Slow Power Doors
The base engine for the new Town & Country is a 3.3-liter V6 with 180 horsepower and sufficient acceleration to provide decent performance in the regular-length version, which is lighter than the larger version.
The 3.8 has 215 horsepower and provides strong acceleration.
Both V6s work with a smooth, responsive 4-speed automatic transmission, although rivals such as the Honda Odyssey and Nissan Quest offer a 5-speed automatic.
Fuel economy with the 3.3 V6 is an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. The figures with the 3.8 are 18 city and 25 highway.
The extended version has an especially smooth ride, thanks partly to its 119.3-inch wheelbase (vs. 113.3-inch for the regular-length version). The shorter version causes more bumps to be felt on poor roads. Some concrete highway roads elicit excessive tire noise from all versions.
It's easy to get in and out through wide doors that have large handles, and occupants sit upright on reasonably comfortable, high seats.
The driving position is good, and gauges can be easily read in the attractive cabin. Most controls are within handy reach, although audio and climate system controls are too small for easy operation. Front occupants will appreciate the hefty cupholders that slide out from the center of the dashboard.
The Town & Country offers improvements that many minivan buyers want, so it should continue to be a good seller.