What's New for 2002
Chrysler makes this already opulent minivan more luxurious with the availability of power-adjustable pedals, rear-seat audio with wireless headsets and a DVD video system for the rear seat that also includes wireless headsets. A value-leader eL model is introduced that lists for around $24,000.
Redesigned last year, the Chrysler minivans sport a number of neat features, such as a moveable center bin equipped with power points and a power rear liftgate.
Still, a few key conveniences are missing, such as a hide-away third seat and a navigation system, which can be found on competitors such as the Honda Odyssey.
Make no mistake, the Town & Country has many charms, among them a plush interior, classy looks, plenty of power and crisp handling that belies the size of the vehicle. Depending on what trim level is selected, driver and passengers will be ensconced in soft, gathered leather seats while triple zone climate control keeps everyone comfortably cool or warm. Making it easier for parents to entertain the kids is the option of a DVD video system that is integrated into the dash.
The Town & Country is available in eight trim levels, ranging from the base eL to the leather-lined Limited with all-wheel drive. All Town & Countrys are long-wheel-base versions (similar to a Dodge Grand Caravan) as opposed to the Chrysler Voyager, which shares its platform with the shorter-wheelbase Caravan.
LX and LXi both come with the 3.3 V6, however the AWD versions have the more powerful (215 horsepower) 3.8-liter V6. An LX is essentially a dressed-up Grand Caravan only with more standard equipment, such as antilock brakes and power windows, locks and mirrors. The eL, which comes only in Bright Silver Metallic, is equipped like the LX and even adds a trip computer, yet costs nearly a grand less.
Next up is the EX, introduced late in 2001 and positioned squarely against Honda's Odyssey EX (what a coincidence!). To battle the Honda, the T&C EX is similarly priced and boasts standard equipment that includes the 3.8 V6, alloy wheels, triple-zone climate control, power driver seat, CD player and power liftgate door.
In a classic "shot myself in the foot" move, the more expensive LXi inexplicably comes with a few downgrades compared to the EX, such as the 3.3 V6 versus the 3.8 and wheel covers in lieu of alloys. The LXi does however, come with a superior sound system (a 10-speaker Infinity job) and a trip computer. A different marketing scheme for the EX (comes one way -- no options, and there are no rebates or incentives) is the reason for the strange hierarchy.
Those who want a sumptuous and elegant minivan must choose the Limited. This leather-lined cocoon has chrome wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, dual power seats, power-adjustable pedals, steering wheel audio controls and side airbags.Be forewarned: a Limited's price tag is north of 35 big ones.
In the Town & Country lineup, the EX is perhaps the best choice, as it has most of the features one could want in a minivan (save for a disappearing third seat and the option of a navigation system). But in spite of the Chrysler's superior driving dynamics and more upscale appearance, Honda's Odyssey offers those two gizmos not available on the T&C and has something else that Chrysler won't be able simply to bolt in: a long-standing reputation for exemplary reliability and build quality.