The current versions of Chrysler’s minivans continue into 2004, but redesigned models are due out in 2005. An optional power sunroof, a factory-installed DVD-based entertainment system and power-adjustable pedals went into last year’s minivans. Structurally, the upscale Town & Country is closely related to the Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan.
For 2004, a new short-wheelbase Base model of the Town & Country replaces the Voyager nameplate, while eL and LXi editions are gone. The extended-wheelbase lineup now includes the front-wheel-drive LX, eX, Touring and Limited, along with two all-wheel-drive models: Touring and Limited. Available on select Touring models, Chrysler’s new limited-edition Platinum package has 16-inch chrome-clad platinum-finish wheels, two-tone leather seating, backseat video entertainment and body-colored cladding. Video entertainment systems now include a six-CD/DVD changer.
Unlike previous years, the Town & Country now comes in two sizes. Extended-length minivans ride a 119.3-inch wheelbase and measure 200.6 inches long overall. The new short Base model has a 113.3-inch wheelbase and is 189.1 inches long overall.
All models except the Base and LX have two power sliding doors. Dual power sliding doors are available for the LX, while the Base model has manual doors with a power passenger-side door as an option.
A powered rear liftgate is standard on all models except the Base and LX. Higher-end models have 16-inch tires, while the Base and LX minivans roll on 15-inch rubber.
All Town & Country models seat seven occupants. Second-row buckets and a split rear bench seat are standard for all but the Base and LX trim levels, which get a regular folding bench. Integrated child-safety seats are optional. Limited models have leather upholstery rather than cloth.
Chrysler’s third-row seat does not fold into the floor like those in the Honda Odyssey and Mazda MPV, but the 2005 models will have folding second- and third-row seats. With the seats removed, cargo capacity is 167.9 cubic feet.
DVD entertainment is optional in all long-wheelbase models. A removable center console is standard in all versions but the Base and LX. Adjustable pedals are standard in Limited minivans and optional in other models.
A 3.3-liter V-6 engine rated at 180 horsepower is standard in Base and LX models. All others hold a 215-hp, 3.8-liter V-6. 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 but not as brisk when passing or merging. Chrysler’s four-speed-automatic transmission works with barely noticeable shifts.
Top-notch handling and stability surpass that of many minivans. Steering is easy and pleasant, which yields a good feel.
Attractive gauges augment the sense of elegance. All of the seats are comfortable and agreeably cushioned. The mirrors aren’t the biggest, but the view is good in all directions.