Review: 2013 Chrysler Town & Country
Posted on September 16, 2013
By: Scott Hobart
Really, there are two types of minivan buyers. In the first camp, you have those for whom there’s no question that their next car will be a minivan. In the second camp you have those who need a bigger car, and are presented with a panoply of SUVs…and the minivan.
First, note that this is a review of my own car, a 2013 Town & Country (T&C), so unlike most other reviews on this website, my strong personal biases apply. And in what follows, I’ll try and convince both camps that the T&C will satisfy both camps.
For those shopping the T&C against Honday Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, or Nissan Quest:
Consider the Porsche 911, a car introduced 60 years ago. With every year that goes by, Porsche continually improves the car, and today it’s arguably the best in its class: sports car perfection. And so it is with the Town & Country. Chrysler pretty much invented the minivan back in the ’80s, and through incremental improvement you now have a minivan that is the benchmark of its class. Chrylser minivans sell almost double that of its competitors. Why is this?
In sum, the T&C tops its class because of value and practicality. The modern V6 engine is shared with more expensive cars like the 300 and Grand Cherokee, and it delivers plenty of power even when loaded. In addition to its high-end powertrain, the standard leather interior and standard U-Connect infotainment system with rear DVD provide the luxury of much higher-end cars. Regarding practicality, stow-and-go deserves recognition. The much promoted feature is unique among mini-vans, and it allows you to easily fold the second and third rows flat for hauling. Many T&C owners find that they use Stow-and-Go more often than anticipated; our family is fond of collapsing one of the second row seats to form a vast “side trunk.”
The value advantage is even more convincing. This author leased his minivan, and accompanying paperwork came with a disclosure that Chrysler discounted the van by $6,000 to hit the target lease numbers. At an MSRP of $32,000, this means that there are T&Cs going out the door in the mid $20 thousand dollar range, an incredible value.
For those who think they want an SUV, but who really should be buying a minivan:
Let’s start with numbers. The T&C has more interior room than a Chevrolet Suburban, while using almost 50% less gas. It’s also within 6 inches of the length of large SUVs like the Ford Explorer, while offering a lower center of gravity (empirical) and better handling (subjective). Packaging and physics rule in this case.
The advantages don’t stop there. A traditional feature of all minivans is the sliding door. Picture this scenario: you’re approaching your car in the crowded lot at Whole Foods with grocery bags and Little Susie. The SUV owner stops, puts down the bags and tells Little Susie to stay put. They then gingerly open the huge rear door, careful not to damage the other SUV in the next parking spot, and pick up Little Susie to put her in the car seat. Then you have the minivan owner, who clicks on their key fob approaching the car, arriving as the door slides aside. Little Susie jumps in herself, thanks to the low load floor, and with the huge door opening you drop off the groceries. Done.
Let’s be honest, unless serious towing is needed, or your kid hauling involves snowy mountain passes, the average family with lots of stuff would be better served by a Town & Country than your typical SUV. However, this author knows that car purchases can be an emotional thing, and decisions aren’t entirely motivated by sheer practicality.
Against its peers, the T&C offers unique features at a very compelling price. And against other SUVs, the choice of a minivan is no longer one of Spartan practicality; the T&C is as luxurious inside as high-end SUVs, and it may prove better suited to family and hauling duty. So whether you’re already in the minivan camp, or whether you’re considering making that move from SUV to minivan, conider the Town & Country at the top of your list.