A power sunroof, a factory-installed DVD-based entertainment system and power-adjustable pedals will go into Chryslers upscale series of front-wheel-drive (FWD) Town & Country minivans for the 2003 model year. Chryslers most luxurious minivan and its less-costly Voyager mate were redesigned for 2001.
Five versions of the Town & Country are available: the value-priced eX and eL, the LX, LXi and top-of-the-line Limited. FWD is standard, but an all-wheel-drive system is available for the LXi and Limited. Structurally, the Town & Country is closely related to the similarly sized Dodge Grand Caravan, as well as to the shorter-length Chrysler Voyager and Dodge Caravan.
Unlike the Dodge Caravan, which comes in two sizes, the Town & Country is offered only in an extended length. It rides on a 119.3-inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 200.6 inches. A power sunroof is optional for the LXi and Limited trims.
The eX, LXi and Limited models have two power sliding doors. The eL and LX have dual manual sliding doors, with power operation available only for the right-side door. The power sliders have obstacle detection when theyre opening and closing.
A powered rear liftgate is standard on eX, LXi and Limited minivans and optional on the eL and LX. It can be operated either by remote control or interior switches. Sensors will halt its downward movement if an obstacle gets in the way.
All Town & Country models seat seven occupants. Quad Command seating, which includes second-row buckets, is standard for all but the LX trim level. The Limited has leather upholstery rather than cloth.
Chryslers third-row seat does not fold into the floor like that on the Honda Odyssey and Mazda MPV, but an optional 50/50 third-row bench splits into two sections that can be removed separately, reclined or folded flat. With the seats removed, cargo capacity is 167.9 cubic feet.
The DVD rear-entertainment system is optional in all models except the eL. A removable center console is standard in the eX, LXi and Limited. Adjustable pedals with a 2.75-inch range and a memory feature will become optional during the 2003 model year.
Under the Hood
A 3.3-liter V-6 engine rated at 180 horsepower is standard in the eL and LX. The LXi, Limited and eX hold a 215-hp, 3.8-liter V-6, which is optional in other models. Both engines work with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes, seat belt pretensioners for the front seats and child-safety seat anchors are standard. Dual-stage inflation is used for the front airbags. Side-impact airbags are optional.
Though the Town & Country is comparatively expensive, it delivers a lot for the money. Its virtues begin with a lovely ride and abundant power from the 3.8-liter V-6 engine, which promises safe passing and merging. Acceleration with the smaller engine is lively enough from a standstill and just a bit less brisk when passing or merging. Chryslers four-speed-automatic transmission works with barely noticeable shifts.
The Town & Countrys top-notch handling and stability surpass that of many minivans. Steering is easy and pleasant, yielding a good feel.
Attractive, nautical-style gauges augment the sense of elegance. All of the seats are comfortable and agreeably cushioned. The mirrors arent the biggest, but the view is good in all directions.