1998 Chrysler Town & Country

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1998 Chrysler Town & Country

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Available in 5 styles:  Town & Country Passenger Van shown
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Estimated MPG

16–18 city / 23–24 hwy


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Expert Reviews

By 

The Morning Call and Mcall.com

You're living the American Dream.

You got the house, the wife, the 2.5 kiddies. Now suddenly, you find the excitement in your life revolves around bargains at Home Depot and trying to prevent your waist from expanding faster than a Kenneth Starr investigation.

Let's face it, you need space. But you want panache.

So, Chrysler hopes you'll open up your wallet for their ritzy new Town & Country Limited minivan. The Limited is a new over-the-top trim level. And even a future AARP member can appreciate the decadent levels of luxury in this vehicle.

That means the Town & Country now comes in three flavors: the basic short wheelbase SX and long wheelbase base LX, the nicer LXI, and the new Limited.

While lesser Town & Country minivans make do with a standard 3.3-liter V6, the Limited gets a standard 3.8-liter V6. All engines put out their power through a four-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on all models. All-wheel drive is available on long wheelbase models.

Of course, if you have the carrying capacity this vehicle offers, you'll want to be able to cope with any weather condition. That's why Chrysler offers an all-wheel drive model, so you can cart the young'uns to school. It works invisibly, with no input from the driver. But, it certainly makes the vehicle seem heavier than its front-drive counterparts.

You'll also want to put up the bucks for the optional engine. The 3.3-liter mill puts out a respectable 158-horsepower. But if you load it up with people and stuff, you'll really want the 3.8, 180 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. After all, a time may come when you'll have to carry the person who really likes to eat. And that takes power.

That said, while there's good power, there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming supply of it -- unlike, say, the sheer number of White House reporters. And Chrysler's 3.8 puts out less power than GM's 3.8, which is good for, at least, 205 horsepower.

There's an undignified roar when power is needed and, at least on the test sample, a hesitation before the transmission would downshift. This happened when a quick burst of power was necessary. If the throttle is given a smooth shot of power, the drivetrain performed without a hiccup.

Handling was car-like and quite capable, with some body lean around corners, but no floating. Bump absorption was good and the noise was well-suppressed, except for wind noise at highway speeds.

Driving position was excellent, with a comfy, chair-height seat that features power eight-way positioning and a manual lumbar adjustment. But, some might wish for deeper seat cushions.

Long-distance support was better than average. Lots of glass means excellent visibility.

The Limited model features captain's chairs in the center and a rear bench seat. A center bench is available, as is an integrated child safety seat. The leather trim was of good quality. Space in the center row was good, but rear-seat pa ssengers found the space tight. The rear seat does have wheels to make removal easier, and cup holders and storage compartments abound.

Of course, most of what was mentioned so far is available on lesser minivans, so why go for the Limited?

Easy. Out front, there's that classy Chysler snout, with its winged emblem that gives the vehicle a very upscale look. But mostly, it's the plethora of pleasing passenger car-like comforts.

There's memory seating, to prevent your spouse from complaining about how you moved everything out of position. There are heated seats, an integrated garage door opener and dual-zone climate control for front-seat passengers, with a separate control in the back. There's an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic on/off headlamps and even a body-colored roof rack.

The Town & Country also contains a trip computer to tell you how far into the country you can drive. The test vehicle, an all-wheel drive, long-wheelbase model equippe d with a 3.8, retu rned 15.4 mpg in an even mix of city and highway driving -- about what a sport utility provides.

Cargo capacity is decent, although there's no cargo cover. But there are seven hooks on the back of the third seat to hang shopping bags.

Construction quality was good, with only one minor rattle. There was Chrysler's usual sea of cheap plastic.

Yeah, it's functional, quiet and sufficiently powerful. But, no matter how much of a load one must carry in life, there's nothing quite like piloting a family bus.

To some, it's the American Dream.

To me, it feels like I'm Keith Partridge.

1998 Town & Country Limited AWD

Standard: 3.8-liter V6, four-speed automatic transmission, dual front air bags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, power rack-and-pinion steering, all-wheel drive, full-size spare tire, load leveling, intermittent windshield wipers, rear wiper/washer, front heated seats, steering wheel-mounted radio controls, dual zone climate control, power windows, power locks, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry, security system, illuminated entry, 200-watt 10 speaker AM/FM-cassette-CD audio system, grocery bag hooks, overhead console with trip computer, universal garage door opener, auto dimming rear-view mirror, visor vanity mirrors, automatic headlamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, floor mats, insulation group, front and rear 12-volt power outlets, 16-inch aluminum wheels, roof rack, fog lamps, power, heated mirrors.

Options: Trailer Tow Group (heavy duty transmission oil cooler, wiring harness, trailer tow), smokers group, (ashtray and lighter), California emissions.

Base price: $35,910

As tested: $36,950

EPA rating: 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway.

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