When you think of family vehicles, your minds instantly conjures up images of crossovers. Over the past few years there has been shift away from the original family vehicle: the van. The proliferation of crossover market means the van could go the way of the wagon. For the first time, Limited Slip Blog had the chance to get behind the wheel of, what most people refer would to as, a “mommy mobile.” The Chrysler Town & Country S offers as-much or more cargo room and passenger seating than a crossover. Considering how diverse the market is now, we wanted to see how Chrysler would separate the Town & Country from the competition.
The Town & Country S trim level offers consumers a “sporty” alternative to the everyday minivan. The Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl exterior accentuates some of the distinctive details of the S model, like the black headlamp bezels, black chrome grille, tinted windows, and 17-inch blacked-out aluminum wheels. The S trim also comes with a unique interior, adding cloth inserts to the S-badged seats and a handy “Super Console” for storage. The S even includes sport-tuned suspension. It sets the stage for the families that are in need of a van, but want to be reminded of their “fun car” past.
The interior of the Town & Country is very spacious. Every “dead space” has been turned into a storage opportunity. In the front you’ll find not one, but two glove boxes! And let’s not forget about the “Super Console,” which converts the space between the driver and passenger into an array of bins, trays, cupholders, and cubbies. Chrysler’s unique Stow n’ Go seating, something the competition doesn’t have, is also included as standard. With the tug of a few straps, the rear seats fold flat. A few more straps fold the second row seats into the floor, which opens up a cavernous 143.8 cubic feet of space. Unlike other vans, you don’t have to remove the seats. Its functionality doesn’t go unnoticed – you not only can carry people but groceries and furniture alike.
Comfort is vital in a van. After all, its primary purpose is to carry people. We’ve established that the Town n’ Country is more than capable of carrying your belongings, but how will you feel after a few hours of driving? After a week of riding and driving, we found the Chrysler to be more than adequate. The front seats are plushy and don’t leave you feeling fatigued. The cloth inserts are nice contrast to the black leather trim. They also serve to hold you in place if you find yourself inclined to put the sport-tuned suspension to the test. They also add to the S badge in an appropriate manner since sport seats aren’t exactly what the Town & Country is about. The second and third row are well contoured but could benefit from additional padding. The tradeoff here is that the seats must be thin to fit into the floor. The ride itself was also a bit stiffer than other direct competitors, but that’s due to a combination of the winter roads and the performance suspension.
With comfort comes entertainment too. It’s imperative that you keep the kids in the back happy and one way to do that is to keep them occupied. The Town & Country does that with dual DVD/ Blu-Ray Entertainment. Both the second and third row passengers get their very own 9-inch video screen with wireless headphones. At night, the ambient lighting around the console on the ceiling makes you feel as if you’re in a limo, making it a pleasant experience for anyone, regardless of age. And you’ll be able to keep an eye on everyone without turning around thanks to the drop-down convex mirror.
From a driving perspective, the 3.6-Liter V6 is pretty lively. In fact, it’s the same V6 found in the Dodge Durango. The 283 horsepower engine, with 260 pound-feet of torque does well by the driver and makes passing relatively effortless. However, the transmission can be rough when shifting from one gear to another. The steering is quite responsive, which is an additional competitive edge in the minivan segment. During our time with the Town & Country, we averaged 20.1 mpg which is right on target with the 17/25 city/highway fuel economy estimates. To compare, the Dodge Durango, which comes standard with the same engine, is rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway in part due to its 4×4 system. Both the Durango and the Town & Country seat 7 and start around $30,000, but we doubt they’re being cross-shopped.
The 2014 Chrysler Town ‘n Country S meets all the criteria on the van checklist. You get all the storage you could ask for with the two glove boxes, “Super Console’, and Stow n’ Go seating. There is also that comfort factor – driver and passengers are given ample room with soft touch materials. Stopping for gas is inevitable, but with 20 mpg you can count on getting the most out of the standard V6. Finally, Chrysler equips the Town & Country with the means to keep even the pickiest riders entertained. It’s a solid contender in the minivan segment with a quality feel and a long list of standard features. After a week, this van hasn’t given us any reason to see why they’ve fallen out of favor.
|2014 Chrysler Town & Country S
|As Tested MSRP||$35,235|