DaimlerChrysler's front-wheel-drive minivans were redesigned for 2005 and looked similar to their predecessors, but they differed inside. More than 15 new features appeared, led by the Stow 'n Go fold-flat-into-the-floor configuration for the second- and third-row seats. The seats can be folded down with one hand in as little as 30 seconds.
Chrysler's Town & Country comes in two sizes: standard and long wheelbase. Stow 'n Go seating is standard only in the long-wheelbase LX, Touring and Limited models.
BeltAlert for both front occupants is standard on 2006 models, which also get a loose-fuel-cap warning. A new DVD radio plays CDs, MP3 CDs and DVDs. Dodge's Caravan and Grand Caravan are similar, but not as posh.
The Town & Country's styling is similar to the pre-2005 version, but the current models have a fresh underbody. Standard-length models ride a 113.3-inch wheelbase, while long-wheelbase minivans have a 119.3-inch wheelbase.
A winged Chrysler badge spans the full width of the grille, which has four horizontal chrome bars. Sculpted headlights and round fog lamps are installed. Touring and Limited minivans get a roof rack and 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels, while other versions ride on 15-inch steel wheels.
All Town & Country minivans seat seven occupants. Bucket seats are installed in the second row, and the third row features a 60/40-split bench seat that can be folded partially or completely.
With Stow 'n Go seating, the headrests don't need to be removed in order to fold down the seats. When the second-row seats are upright, two storage bins with integrated lids provide additional storage space. Standard cargo net bags adjust to fit each storage bin. Split-bench tailgate seating is made possible by flipping the third-row seat rearward.
The second-row seats move fore and aft 100 millimeters, recline up to 40 degrees and have 13 positions. The third-row seatbacks recline up to 39 degrees and feature 12 positions. By pulling a single strap, the second-row seat tumbles out of the way for entry to the third row.
Three adjustable, removable bins fit into an overhead rail system, and one can hold an optional DVD entertainment system's screen. Cargo volume behind the rear seat is 15.3 cubic feet for standard-length models and 26.4 cubic feet for long-wheelbase minivans.
Under the Hood
Standard-length models and the long-wheelbase LX version use a 180-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6. Touring and Limited long-wheelbase models get a 3.8-liter V-6 that generates 205 hp and 240 pounds-feet of torque. All minivans use a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes are standard. Optional side curtain-type airbags protect occupants in all three rows of seats. An inflatable knee blocker helps protect the driver. LATCH child-safety seat anchors are installed. Rear parking assist can be installed.
Chrysler and Dodge minivans have for years set the minivan standard in ride comfort and driving ease. Despite increased competition, these models still serve as benchmarks. Performance is energetic with the 3.8-liter engine, and the Town & Country's light steering is appropriate. Automatic-transmission shifts are prompt and easy. These minivans excel in seat comfort and available space.
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