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Can a Minivan Be Stylish?

The automaker working to turn its image from humdrum to hip with the “Imported from Detroit” slogan and star-studded advertising is also trying to inject some mojo into its minivan. Chrysler gives the Town & Country S a dose of attitude inside and out with a sport suspension, black chrome grille, a black step pad, 17-inch aluminum wheels with black pockets and blacked-out headlights. Inside, it’s more black-on-black: leather seats with gray contrast stitching, glossy black plastic trim on the instrument panel and steering wheel, a black headliner and a black center console.

I’m a fan of the Town & Country, but fully admit a minivan is one of the most style-cramping vehicles you can buy. What type of moms and dads would go for a blinged-out, blacked-out version?

“The Town & Country S will appeal to a younger demographic that needs the functionality of a minivan, but who wants some modern style in their vehicle,” Chrysler communications spokesperson Patrick Hespen said.

It makes sense to try to attract a new audience to the class, since sales as a whole are down. Through April, shoppers bought 164,583 new minivans, according to Automotive News. That’s down 7.4% versus 2012, and it represents a pretty significant decline in minivan popularity. A year ago, one in 26 new cars sold was a minivan; today it’s one in 30. Shoppers clearly prefer large, three-row crossovers, which outsold minivans by more than 3 to 2 through April.

The 2013 Chrysler Town & Country S was introduced last year at the L.A. Auto Show (where else?!) and goes on sale this summer. It will slot between the Touring and Touring-L models in the lineup and start at $32,990, including a $995 destination charge.

With the sportier S versions of its 200 and 300 sedans, Chrysler upped the stylishness of its lineup; can it do the same with the Town & Country S or are “style” and “minivan” mutually exclusive?

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2013 Chrysler Town and Country S at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show
2013 Chrysler Town & Country Review
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