2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited review: The best thing this side of Alpha Centauri Bb

2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited

2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited

There is no minivan in the known universe that has better cargo handling that of the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Town & Country. Well, there is planet Alpha Centauri Bb, circling the star Alpha Centauri B, that’s Earth-like enough that it might support life, and maybe a minivan better at converting between a variety of seating/cargo arrangement than our test 2014 Chrysler Town & Country, but it’s 4.5 light-years—that’s about 25 trillion miles—away, so we doubt there’s much local competition.

The star of the show, so the speak, is the Stow ‘n Go seating arrangement. Standard on the two Chrysler minivans is a rear bench seat that folds, tips and tumbles into a well at the back of the vehicle. It’s fairly common. The Honda Odyssey has something similar, for example—though likely with enough differences that there are no patent squabbles.

2014 Chrysler Town & Country

The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country has a small screen at the top of the center stack. (click to enlarge)

But no one else has anything like the second row seats that fold into the floor. It takes some pulling of levers, moving the front seat all the way forward and lifting of panels to get the seats in their cubbies, but once they’re down, there’s nothing in the way of a flat cargo floor going all the way to the back of the front seats.

Not only that, compare total volume. The Chrysler Grand Caravan has a maximum cargo volume of more than 140 cubic. Compare that to the 2014 Dodge Durango we recently tested, which comes in at about 85 cubic feet. Or the minivan-like Dodge Journey which is a smidge over 67 cubic feet.  And the Journey doesn’t have Stow ‘n Go.

Why are we making such a fuss over the cargo capacity of the Chrysler Town & Country when there’s so much more to talk about? Because as a family do-it-all, it’s hard to beat a minivan, whether it’s delivering half the squad to a soccer game—you know we had to mention that—or hauling an apartment’s worth of Ikea to campus housing. And nothing handles the volume like a Chrysler or Dodge minivan.

But there are other features. Consider the powertrain. The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country has as its only engine choice its own iteration of the 3.6-liter V-6 that’s going into everything from the Chrysler 300 to the Jeep Wrangler to the Ram 1500 pickup. And rightly so. The 3.6 replaced a gaggle of sixes, none of which delivered the power and fuel efficiency of the Chrysler Group’s ubiquitous 3.6 liter V-6. We’re looking for it to go into the Fiat 500 next.

2014 Chrysler Town & Country with rear and middle rows folded

The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country with rear and middle rows folded makes a flat floor all the way to the back of the front seats. (click to enlarge)

In minivan configuration, the 3.6-liter is rated at 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque which, if you turn off the traction control, is enough to spin the tires. That’s probably something you wouldn’t do at the student drop-off line, no matter how eager you are to leave the little buggers in someone else’s care for seven hours, but it’s good to know you could. The bigger problem we had was pulling out into traffic with the wheels turned. The tires will squeal and everyone will look to see who the goofball playing teen-with-a-new-license with the mommy wagon.

Really, we didn’t mean to.

The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country continues the tradition of lots of bins, trays and storage compartments. The center console has, count ‘em, four cupholders plus there’s a storage compartment with two levels under the armrest. The added room comes from placing the shift lever high on the dash where it’s out the way of everything. The Town & Country also has a pair of glove boxes.

2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited

2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited (click to enlarge)

The materials fall short of a Chrysler with Limited as part of its name. Although leather seating is standard for all trim levels of the T&C, the dash is hard plastic, and even if it’s something you don’t touch very often, competitors have moved on. Ditto with the m.i.d. screen at the top of the center stack. In a word, it’s small and well short of the current Chrysler/Dodge 8.2-in screens, and there isn’t room for anything bigger. The Chrysler Town & Country is showing its age, actually. A new generation is due soon and updates are being saved for the new minivan.

Whether that replacement will have the traditional minivan shape or go for something more rakish is one of those decisions that keep product planners up all night, especially when the Town & Country/Grand Caravan have worked so well for so long. No doubt the new Town & Country will have the matte chrome Chrysler grille, one of those design wins that’s both distinctive and handsome.

But it’s a lock that the replacement Chrysler Town & Country, when it comes, will have Stow ‘n Go. It’s still the best minivan feature on planet Earth, or any other planet, Earth-like or not.

 

2014 Chrysler Town & Country Limited, price and key specifications as tested

Body style/layout: 5-door minivan, front engine/front-wheel drive

Base price: $41,295

Price as tested: $45,230

Engine

  • Type: 3.6-liter 24-valve DOHC V-6
  • Displacement, cc: 3605
  • Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum
  • Compression ratio: 10.2:1
  • Horsepower: 283 @ 6400 rpm
  • Torque: 260 @ 4400 rpm
  • Recommended fuel: regular unleaded
  • Fuel economy, EPA est.: 17/25 mpg city/highway
  • Fuel economy, observed: mpg

Transmission: 6-speed automatic driver-adaptive

Chassis/Suspension

  • Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson strut / twin beam
  • Wheels: 17 x 6.5-inch alloy
  • Tires: 225/65R17
  • Brakes: 4-wheel disc; 13.0-inch dia. front/12.9-inch dia. rear
  • Steering: power rack-and-pinion
  • Turning circle: 39.1 ft.

Dimensions

  • Wheelbase: 121.2 in.
  • Length: 202.8 in.
  • Height: 66.9 in.
  • Width: 78.7 in.
  • Curb weight: 4,652 lbs
  • Cargo volume, min/max: 33.0/143.8 cu. ft.
  • Fuel tank: 20.0 gal.

Safety

  • Airbags: Front, front side, side-curtain
  • Anti-lock brakes: Yes  Traction control: Yes  Stability control: Yes  Electronic brake-force distribution: Yes  Brake assist: Yes
  • Other: trailer sway control (Safety Tec package, not on test vehicle, includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, and front and rear park assist

Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper; 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain; 5-year/100,000-mile roadside assistance