What's New for 1996
Totally redesigned for 1996, the T&C raises the bar for luxury minivans. In a departure from last year, the TandC is offered in a short wheelbase version, and is available in two trim levels: LX and LXi. New innovations include a driver-side passenger door, dual-zone temperature controls and a one-hand latch system on the integrated child safety seats.
Elegance and expressiveness, grace and grandeur. These are the kinds of words that describe Chrysler's posh rendition of the Dodge/Plymouth minivan. All three redesigned makes appeared in late spring of 1995, as early '96 models, bigger and rounder than their hot-selling predecessors.
Oh sure, you get the same fresh shape and interior space in a lower-priced Caravan or Voyager, the same car-like ride/handling qualities, the same practical virtues as a people and cargo hauler. What Chrysler adds to that mix is luxury. Plenty of it--and that's enough to attract a fair share of extra customers to the Chrysler end of the minivan spectrum.
Town and Country customers have three distinct choices now: the expected base model, an "ultimate" LXi that promises features ordinarily found only on luxury cars--plus a new short-wheelbase (113.3-inch) LX version. That's a "first" for Chrysler, which has formerly limited its Town and Country to the longer-body platform. It's also a well-considered way to attract a new throng of upscale minivan buyers: both younger folks and older "empty-nesters" who don't need all those cubic feet provided by the biggies.
All three minivans feature seven-passenger seating, with an "Easy-Out" rollaway back seat. A 3.8-liter V6 is standard in the LXi, and optional in its mates, which otherwise come with a 3.3-liter engine. Both engines drive a four-speed automatic transmission, which delivers neat and smooth gearchanges. Minivanners who do lots of highway cruising and Interstate hopping might be happier with the bigger engine, which lets the TandC pass and merge into traffic with greater confidence and briskness.
Extras in the LXi edition include dual-zone control heat/air conditioning, eight-way leather trimmed driver and passenger seats, plus a memory for both the seats and outside mirrors. A roof rack is standard on the LXi, and optional on the others. The same is true of Chrysler's innovative left-side sliding door, a feature that's drawn plenty of publicity already--and prompted other automakers to wonder why they hadn't thought of it first. Front-wheel-drive models went on the market first, with all-wheel drive expected later. If you want luxury and spaciousness, but the thought of a Buick Roadmaster Wagon makes your stomach churn, drop by your local Chrysler store and try the Town and Country on for size.