Preposterous. For the 1990 model year, Chrysler introduced the Chrysler Town & Country luxury minivan and skeptical auto writers had a field day in their reviews. A luxury minivan? The minivan was a superb family mover. The Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager had proven that. But a luxury minivan? Did that make sense?
Ten years later, the Chrysler Town & Country is still here. The Plymouth Voyager is not, through no fault of its own, while the Town & Country nearly matches the sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan. So much for the insight of automotive journalists.
And for the most part, the 2010 Chrysler minivan lives up to the label. And we say mostly because there are some places where the Chrysler of a couple of years ago comes poking through like a bad rash: cheap-looking/feeling plastic on the inside, particularly right in front of the driver. The dash, the hood over the navigation/information screen and especially around the high-mounted shifter are like the cheaper toys you bought for the kids rather than Fisher-Price. You won’t do that again, and Chrysler has learned its lesson about quality look and feel. It just hasn’t made it all the way through the Town & Country.
That’s a shame because there’s so much that’s good about the 2010 Chrysler Town & Country and much of it is quality. Everything feels solid and well screwed together, and despite the myriad of stuff and bits to rattle in a minivan, nothing in the Town & Country did. The knobs twisted with the right amount of resistance and the buttons all worked with a satisfying click.
Our test model was the double throw-down Town & Country Limited with standard driver and passenger-side sliding side doors and power liftgate, and the optional power-folding third row seat. Not only was it a joy to behold, folding into the well at the rear of the vehicle with the precision and accuracy of an Army drill team, it also powerfolded the rear seatback to horizontal or tipped the whole seat rearward to form a tailgating bench seat, all from buttons on the left bulkhead of the cargo compartment.
Our test 2010 Chrysler Town & Country Limited had “Stow ‘n Go” seats as standard. Each seat in the second row can fold independently into its own well, creating a flat floor from the backs of the front seat all the way to the rear, with the third row seat folded. It’s a bit of a hassle and requires some muscle to accomplish, with a fair amount of lifting and shoving, but it’s easier than removing the seats out of the van completely and Chrysler (including the Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan) is the only minivan maker that has it. The wells, by the way, can also be used for storage when the seats aren’t folded into them, but don’t expect Junior to be able to retrieve anything from them with the vehicle in motion.
Speaking of storage space, the Town & Country makes use of the floor between the seat and the door with a little plastic trough, just right for an umbrella…but why not on the passenger side, too?
We’d call the seating comfort undistinguished, with the second row adequate and the third sacrificing comfort for convenience. While it fits adults, it’s less than the cushy of dedicated third-row seats we’ve known. Pull-up see-through window shades for the second and third rows are great for shielding little faces from the sun, especially if they’re in the witness protection program.
The instrument panel and center stack-mounted analog clock have a vintage green glow with a Thirties-look font and markings on the gauges, just like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, but the Town & Country Limited, along with the mid-range Town & Country Touring, has matching green ambient lighting from the overhead console that also houses the second and third row video screens that are part of the $2,020 Dual Screen DVD Entertainment System with Sirius Backseat TV option.
While some parents appreciate the child anesthetizing effect of DVD video screens–if the children haven’t spent enough time in front of the TV screen at home–our test Town & Country Limited had Sirius Backseat TV. Currently offered with Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Mobile Network, the tykes will stay in video-induced torpor for multi-hour trips with only minimal parental interaction.
Our test 2010 Chrysler Town & Country Limited was equipped with oodles of flash on the exterior, including chromed wheels and door handles and inserts on the bumpers and bodysides, and chromed outside mirrors that give bugs a good view of the final look of terror in their faces just before they become something you’ll have to wipe off with a bug sponge.
The 2010 Town & Country Limited also includes HID (high-intensity discharge) headlamps and SmartBeam auto-dimming headlamps, although we never got the latter to work to our satisfaction–though we suspect that was from us not being smart enough.