2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited Review

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Model: 2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
Engine: 4.0-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 251 hp/259 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 121.2 in.
Length x Width x Height: 202.5 x 76.9 x 68.8 in.
Tires: P225/65R17
Cargo volume: 32.3/83.7/140.1 cu. ft. (third row seats up/third row seats down/second row seats down)
Economy: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway/18.0 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 20.5 gal.
Price: $40,810 (includes $730 destination charge and $4,410 in options

The Bottom Line – Minivans are almost ideal vehicles in that they can haul people or cargo or any combination of the above with comfort and practicality. Chrysler’s new Town & Country also offers such amenities as Stow ‘n Go storage and second row Swivel ‘n Go seating that turns the interior into a card-playing game room for the passengers. This generation also offers decent power and economy.

I can’t reiterate it often enough; the Heilig family is a van family. Oh, we don’t own one now, but for 14 years a full-size van carried our family from Brownies through college, with a wedding thrown in for good measure. This van arrived in our family before Chrysler introduced the minivan. Had we had the opportunity to get a minivan we would have, and would probably be driving one today. As it was, we downsized and really have no serious need to go back up.

If we did go up, however, the Chrysler Town & Country would definitely be high on our list of possibilities. There are a lot of reasons. First, our full-size van averaged 12.75 mpg over the course of its life with us (I kept precise records). The Chrysler averaged 18.0 mpg over varied highways and rural streets, matching the best ever numbers for our van. When we drove our van on its big cross-country trip, the absolute best we did was 17.3 mpg, so there’s a saving right there.

Another reason is that with our three girls, there was no convenient seating arrangement. Two were always fighting over something, or two had to share one bench seat and one got a seat all to herself. With the T&C, there were two rows of bucket seats and a healthy bench in the back, so two girls could have individual seats and one could have the bench.

Also, the newest idea that has popped in the family seating arena is the all-new Swivel ’n Go™ seat system. Swivel ’n Go offers second-row seats that swivel 180 degrees to face the third row with a removable table that installs between the two rows, covered storage bins in the floor of the second row, third-row uncovered storage and fold-in-the-floor third-row seating. The table stores out of sight in the second-row covered storage bins when not in use. Swivel ’n Go also offers an available integrated child booster seat in the second-row quad chair and an available one-touch power-folding third-row 60/40 bench seat. With Swivel ‘n Go, everything from dinner on the go to card tournaments is possible. There’s a peace-maker right there.

We had decent power with the 4.0-liter single overhead cam V6 that delivered 251 horsepower and drove the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Compared to our biggie, this was almost overpowered, even though we had a 5.7-literV8 in ours. There was some lean on tight corners, but this wasn’t a problem. Again, compare it to a full-size and this is almost sports car handling. I thought the engine was noisier than some, but it wasn’t intrusive.

I had trouble finding the shift lever when I fist sat in the T&C. It’s mounted on the dash, just not the left of the center console. While this is a unique location, after a while it seems like a sensible placement.

I liked the navigation system screen in that it was non-intrusive. It didn’t scream out at you with bright lights saying, “Look at me, I’m here.” And like many vehicles these days, there was a center-mounted analog clock.

Interior storage is excellent. Besides the Stow `n Go storage in the floor that holds the seats when folded, there is a maximum of 140 cubic feet of storage. Now, with our girls, we’d have to settle for the 32 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat, but we could have figured out ways to carry all our gear.

There are three-section door pockets that hold water bottles and anything else needed. The center console is removable, so you can have easier access to the rear from the front. We removed it in our tester because we couldn’t figure a way to relatch it once we slid it back for come reason.

The front seats are comfortable with arm rests that get in the way of the seat belt latch. The solution is to lift them up, latch the seat belt, then lower the arm rest. The second-row captain’s chairs have the same problem. The third row seats power fold flat into the floor creating a flat storage area. There’s also a power lift gate, shades on the second-row windows and a “Toyota” style cruise control.

I liked the Town & Country. Consumer Guide recommends it as a “Best Buy,” so I’m not alone.

2008 The Auto Page Syndicate

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