Walkaround and Interior

By January 25, 2008

Walkaround

With its 2008 redesign, the Town & Country drops its short wheelbase body style, opting for three long-wheelbase models. The vehicle's architecture is basically the same, but stretched a bit. Compared to the outgoing long wheelbase model, the 2008 Town & Country is 1.9 inches longer in wheelbase, two inches longer overall, and at least 100 pounds heavier model for model.

Even with those larger dimensions, the 2008 Town & Country's size is comparable to several competitors. The Nissan Quest, Chevrolet Uplander, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna are all within two inches, plus or minus, in overall length. Cargo room is comparable as well.

The Town & Country's new styling is boxier than that of the outgoing model, with a more pronounced front end that, like the Chevy Uplander, offers a hint of an SUV-like appearance. The roof is wider at the top, also contributing to the boxier look.

The snout features a large grille heavily influenced by that of the Chrysler Sebring and Pacifica. The body sides have a clean, simple design, as the last model's side strakes have been eliminated. The rear liftgate is available with power operation, which is handy, but the rear glass doesn't open separately, which isn't. Chrome accents on the front and rear fascias, door handles, belt molding, and mirrors lend an upscale appearance.

Interior Features

The Town & Country's competitive advantage can be found on the inside. While ambiance and materials quality are not tops in the class, thoughtful features are. The Chrysler Town & Country is brimming with them.

First the mundane. Hard plastic dominates the dash and doors. The only padded surfaces are found on the captain's chairs' fold-down armrests, and they are an unimpressive looking rubberized material. The gauges are easy to spot and the various controls are clearly marked.

The radio and/or MyGIG system is set high on the center of the dash for easy access. With either system, the controls are easy to use, but those on the right side are a bit of a reach for the driver. The CD/DVD changer is also set low, making it a possible distraction to use while driving. The gearshift is mounted between the radio and the instrument panel. It's an odd position, but it works and there is an electronic gear readout in the instrument cluster.

The MyGIG radio is available as the MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment system, which includes a navigation system with voice activation, or as the MyGIG Entertainment system, which does not have a navigation system. Both systems have a 20-gigabyte hard drive to hold music, pictures, and, with the Infotainment System, navigation map information. Chrysler says the Infotainment System version can hold 1600 songs; it can hold almost twice as many without the navigation system.

Front-seat room and comfort are typical for a minivan. The front captain's chairs afford an upright driving position with an SUV-like view of the road. There is plenty of head room, and leg room will only be lacking for the tallest drivers. A tilt steering wheel and available adjustable pedals should help most drivers tailor a comfortable seating position.

The clever features start with the storage solutions. Chrysler provides two glove boxes and some cubbies in the center stack for small items storage. A total of 13 cupholders are found throughout the van, so the whole team has a place to put their A&W root beers after the little league game. The standard console has four integrated cupholders and a small storage bin. The premium center console is more impressive. It has four cupholders and a small bin on top. This top level slides back to reveal a larger storage bin below it. The lower bin also slides back. With both layers slid back, the top level moves back a total of 21 inches, which allows parents up front to prepare lunch for the kids and pass it back in a safe manner. The premium console is also removable so you can make good on your threat to go back there when the kids need to be forcefully separated.

The rear seating solutions are better yet. All Town & Country models have a deep well behind the third row, which is a great place put groceries so they won't slide around. With the rear seats in place, there is an impressive 32.3 cubic feet of cargo room. All models have a 60/40 split folding third-row bench seat that folds into the floor. Three straps are attached to the back of each seat and they're marked 1, 2 and 3. To fold the seats into the floor, first pull strap 1, then pull strap 2. You have to give strap 2 a good yank and help the seat along with your other hand. It can require leverage that some moms might not have. Strap 3 pulls the seats back up. A better option is the power folding third row seat, which can be set to four positions, including what Chrysler calls the tailgating position. In this position, the seatbacks act as seat bottoms and the bottoms act as backs facing the rear of the van for those parking lot tailgate parties at sports functions.

Chrysler offers three seating options for the second row, and integrated child seats can be ordered for the second row in any configuration. Standard seating in the LX model includes a removable second-row bench seat with covered storage bins in front of the seats. The Stow 'n Go setup, which is standard on Touring