The 2016 Chrysler Town & Country piles a lavish amount of equipment and luxury touches into an aging body that suffers in the toughest crash tests.
The Chrysler Town & Country is the most flexible, luxurious minivan on the road today, but those attributes come in the form of an older vehicle with lower crash-test scores than safer rivals.
For 2016, very little changes with the Chrysler minivan. It's due for replacement in the 2017 model year by a new vehicle—the renamed Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
The T&C has been around in its current body style since the 2008 model year, and was restyled in 2011. That's a considerably advanced age for any car line, but the Town & Country still looks handsome, by minivan standards. It's somewhat distinct from its Dodge Grand Caravan sibling (for more information on that top minivan pick, see our 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan page). The Town & Country has more bright trim and a different grille, but they share an upright, glassy shape that translates into great visibility, if not the fashionable look of vans like the Kia Sedona and Nissan Quest.
There's not much visual differentiation between the Dodge and Chrysler vans from the sides or rear, but in front, the Town & Country makes its pitch for discerning buyers with a winged logo and a discreet grille. It's still a square-jawed, upright vehicle, but the slightly softer look plays well. The Town & Country also has LED taillights to distinguish it from the Grand Caravan.
Inside, the T&C is less a family workhorse than the Grand Caravan—if only because its neatly organized, somewhat plasticky interior is trimmed in leather. The families that use this one-box hauler will want to be in the teenage years—or, as Chrysler points out, could just as well be empty-nesters who like the minivan package for carrying four adults and weekend gear. The instruments are ringed in chrome on the Chrysler, and so are the major controls, while the overwhelming plasticky touches of the pre-2011 minivans have been completely excised. It's a tasteful look, punctuated by the analog clock that's meant to ape the shape of the grille.
The Town & Country's drivetrain is a 283-horsepower V-6 coupled to a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, just like in the Dodge. (Although the Chrysler/Dodge twins used to offer all-wheel drive years ago, Toyota's Sienna is the only minivan still available with four driven wheels.) The powertrain is fine for toting a full family around from mall to mall, and the steering responds a bit more quickly than on previous models. Ride and handling are oriented around safety and security: it's softly tuned, and the suspension bounds more than the fairly responsive Odyssey and Sienna. The V-6 delivers good acceleration, while gas mileage remains near the middle of the segment at 17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined.
Helpful, but aging
The Chrysler vans also lead the minivan pack with Stow 'N Go. The Chrysler/Dodge-exclusive feature allows the two rearmost rows of seats to be folded flat into the floor, turning the seven-seater into a tall package van in a matter of seconds. It's a marvelously adaptable system—the Town & Country can haul up to eight passengers in reasonable comfort (the rear benches are thinly padded so they can be stowed easily) or it can carry a full-size sofa, or everything in between. Power sliding side doors and a power tailgate make access to that space that much easier.
The basic configuration dates back to the mid-2000s, so it's not much of a surprise that the Town & Country performs below expectations in the very latest crash tests. Both Chrysler minivans have earned a four-star rating from the NHTSA; the IIHS doesn't look so kindly on them, giving the T&C a "Poor" rating for small-overlap protection.
As Chrysler's premium people hauler, the Town & Country is priced from about $30,000, in the same range as higher trim levels of the competitive Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey family haulers. Some Grand Caravan options are standard on the Chrysler—must-haves like power sliding doors, a power liftgate, a rearview camera, and Stow 'N Go seating.
With the addition of two new trim levels for 2015, the The Town & Country is now offered in a total of six: LX, Touring, S, Touring-L, Limited, and Limited Platinum. The LX model is new at the low end, and includes leather-trimmed seats, a rearview camera, Stow 'N Go seats, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and powered sliding doors and liftgate. It does without chrome exterior moldings, automatic headlights, automatic climate control, front DVD capability, a power driver's seat, and the option to add the safety group.
Most of the features offered as options on the Dodge are standard on the Chrysler, including power windows for all four doors; power locks and mirrors; power side doors and tailgate; garage door opener; a 115-volt outlet; Stow 'N Go; and leather seats. Bluetooth and a USB port are standard. A safety option package includes parking sensors, rearview camera, and blind-spot monitors. Options include a sunroof; a navigation system; in-car wireless internet; a DVD entertainment system; a power-folding third row, and keyless ignition. There's also a Blu-ray DVD entertainment system with an HDMI input and twin USB ports for gaming and charging.
The other new model for 2015, the Town & Country Limited Platinum, takes just about every available option or package and makes it standard, adding Nappa leather seating, unique painted 17-inch wheels, radio memory, a nine-speaker stereo, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, and power-adjustable pedals. It's the most equipment we've ever seen on a minivan.