Once the segment king, now just a nobleman
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: If I’m remembering right, I haven’t driven a Town & Country since our long termer, the white one, six years ago. Six years! That car wore a $32,700 sticker. We put almost 33K on the beloved “Norge,” so called because of its gleaming white paint, boxy shape and practicality. To us, it was a refrigerator on wheels. The Norge went all 365 days in Autoweek fleet service without ANY repairs needed beyond scheduled maintenance. It spent zero days out of the office.
The 4.0-liter V6 pulled strongly enough to squeal front rubber at launch from the first day to the last. Oh sure, the Norge loosened up some over the year, but not to the point of creating noticeable squeaks, vibrations or rattles.
We came to love the Norge for its unparalleled functionality. The good news is everything on this new one is familiar — Chrysler hasn’t changed a thing. At least nothing I can tell.
One of the original minivans, this 2015 model proves the Town & Country is still a first-rate people mover (my only beef with this particular model is the rattling passenger seat). The ride and steering are decent, certainly good enough for the customer base.
T&Cs don’t sell great — competition from Nissan, Honda, Toyota and Kia has become intense, not to mention buyers’ trying to look hip, buying three-row crossovers up the yingyang. That’s a shame, really: We’ve preached for years that minivans have much merit in terms of maximum practicality, people-hauling ability and ease of operation. Buyers just seem to think minivans are muy uncool.
There are spy shots floating around of a new Chrysler minivan testing, and I for one applaud FCA for sticking with it even if the market is so-so.
The Town & Country shown with available dual-screen Blu-ray and DVD Entertainment System.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Ah, the old T&C. It was probably the best minivan on the market for a decade or two. Unfortunately, the other manufacturers are catching up, and it seems like this car hasn’t changed in a handful of years. That’s not to say it isn’t nice — it is. But it really reminds me of our old long-term car.
First of all, it looks pretty damn masculine for a van. The dark chrome wheels and window tint make this T&C something I wouldn’t be ashamed to drive. The interior is nearly identical to our old car, as far as I can remember. And that’s fine. It’s nice without looking too high-falutin’, most things are within reach and the seats are La-Z-Boy comfortable. The radio/entertainment setup is getting old though. The rest of the Chryslers and Dodges have the new ones now. I heard a few rattles from the back, too. They might have been from the seatbelts.
Power from the Pentastar V6 is great, too much for a minivan. I’d say put a four-cylinder in there, but maybe once it’s loaded up with families, kids and gear it gets a little sluggish. The six-speed automatic is showing its age a bit as well. In normal cruising, it shifts smoothly, but try to confuse it, and it falls apart. If you smack the pedal down, it’ll give you one gear, then maybe two more, popping the revs up to redline. Getting back on the gas in between the 2-1 shift throws it off, too. A couple jerky starts had me checking to see if I was in manual mode.
The T&C is definitely comfortable and doesn’t really feel like it’s going to fall over. I made few quick turns and lane changes without any surprises. It does roll a bit, though. The brake stroke is a little long, but modulation is good. It absorbs bumps well, as a minivan should.
The Chrysler Town & Country comes standard with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine that delivers up to 25 highway mpg.
Options: Customer preferred package including SafetyTec, automatic high beam headlamp control, blind spot and cross path detection, ParkSense rear park assist system, rain sensitive windshield wipers and tire pressure monitoring display ($1,945); driver convenience group including heated front seats, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, second and third-row window shades, front easy clean floor mats, left rear easy clean floor mats and right rear easy clean floor mats ($695); radio 430N AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3/HDD/NAV, Garmin navigation system and SiriusXM Travel Link with five-year subscription ($1,095); compact spare tire and flex fuel vehicle ($295)