I am a sinful creature and one of my guilty pleasures is driving a mini-van. No, not because it encourages carnal endeavors within its cavernous cavern (although, I’m sure that’s been done), but because mini-vans are as opposite of cool as Hades is to Heaven. Slapping sporty wheels and an “S” badge on the Chrysler Town & Country does not make it a sports car. It’s a van. Just an un-sexy van. But, it loves to roam.
Chrysler has always had pretty good-looking mini-vans and the T&C is not ugly — especially in S trim. Look at the black headlamps bezels, black chrome grille, 17” dark alloy wheels, and beaming foglamps. Squint hard and you can almost conjure sport wagon visions. Open your peepers just a little and you’ll realize the van is really a big two-box bread box with slab sides. Design should become a bigger priority.
Despite its advancing age, this generation of Chrysler mini-vans is among the best places to travel. It’s quiet on the highway, letting passengers enjoy heated front and middle row seats, and rear side sunshades. From the helm, drivers get a thick heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, jewel-like blue-lit gauges, and convenient dash-mounted gear selector. There’s storage in the console, under the console, in the glovebox, and in an upper glovebox. Whatever your kids need is kept at-hand.
It’s also a pretty decked-out limousine. My husband and daughter enjoyed the Blue Ray-enabled DVD screens in the second and third rows. Bluetooth streaming audio, AM/FM/CD player, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio kept me happy sans entourage. Beyond all the toys, middle-row passengers can play with their reclining captain’s chairs or relax on the third-row bench. Rear climate control tames summer heat; power rear quarter windows let in fresh air.
What’s really pathetic for one of Chrysler’s prime competitors (named for long treks) is that the Town & Country’s decade-old infotainment system with tiny touchscreen and voice controls is much easier to use than the other van’s supposedly-functional two-screen nightmare. Blind spot warning, rear cross path detection, and rearview camera keep fenders and family unscathed.
When you get over the idea of driving a “mommy-mobile”, and feel frisky, you might want one for the same reason surfers drove woodies and hippies lived in VW Buses. Big boxes with low floors haul a lot of stuff. Flip the Stow ‘n Go seats into the floor, power open the liftgate and side doors, and move in your mattress – or sports gear. It all fits.
Even my foot felt a little sinful when clamping down on the speed pedal. When the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine gets smacked, it roars back with 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque – plenty to twerk the front wheels when routed through the six-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick mode. All that and it delivers 17/25-MPG city/hwy –enough to make a full-size SUV driver do a happy dance three rings around the rosie.
Say all you want about mini-vans, but have a kid or need a big box on wheels, and you’ll be tempted by their devilish delights. The Chrysler Town & Country is due for a redesign, but still offers many pleasures. A base price of $29,995 or $38,120 as-tested seems reasonable.
2015 Chrysler Town & Country
Seven-passenger, FWD Mini-van
Powertrain: 283hp 3.6-liter V6, 6-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: Ind/Twist beam
Wheels: 17”/17” alloy f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr
Must-have features: Comfort, Utility
Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Windsor, ON
Base/as-tested price: $29,995/38,120