What's New for 2008
The Chrysler Town & Country has been completely redesigned for 2008. A new 4.0-liter V6 is featured as the standard power plant on the Limited model and Chrysler's Swivel 'n Go seats make their debut here, too. The new van also has more angular styling and several new or improved features like a power fold-flat third-row seat and more standard safety equipment. There's also plenty of new entertainment technology, including Sirius Backseat TV that features three channels of kid-friendly video programming. Chrysler has also introduced a limited lifetime powertrain warranty this year.
Certainly no one will mistake the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country for a performance sedan or sexy coupe. But if you're looking at family haulers, Chrysler has made a very compelling case with its redesigned luxury-oriented minivan.
The previous-generation Town & Country was a decent van but it became increasingly outclassed as the years went on. The new Chrysler T&C is a much better van than the previous version on many fronts. Its base price is lower, but it has more standard equipment and many useful features that you simply can't get on other minivans.
A new V6 and six-speed transmission powertrain makes its debut in the new van, plus Swivel 'n Go seating means the family van can now double as a sort of living room on wheels. There are also one-touch power-folding third-row seats -- no other 2008 minivan has this feature. A three-zone video entertainment system is also optional and essentially means that front, middle and rear-seat passengers can watch or listen to totally separate entertainment sources.
The 2008 Town & Country is also roomier inside and has more storage space behind the third row of seats. That's due, in part, to a van that's 2.5 inches longer and rides a 1.9-inch-longer wheelbase. Expect a quieter ride as well; Chrysler's engineers gave the new van thicker glass, deeper carpet padding, additional seals and isolated front suspension components. The interior is also noticeably nicer than both the previous van and its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan. Faux wood and metallic trim grace the dash and door panels and the gauges add a slight upscale flair.
Overall, we think the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country has regained its status as a top choice for a minivan. In our most recent comparison test, we pitted a Honda Odyssey against Dodge's new van (the Dodge and Chrysler are identical mechanically) and found the Odyssey to have a higher-quality look and feel overall. But with its new V6, compelling features and roomy interior, the T&C should still be on your short list of models to check out.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Chrysler Town & Country is available in three distinct trim levels: LX, Touring and top-of-the-line Limited. Even the base LX comes with a decent level of equipment. In addition to the expected power features and air-conditioning, keyless entry, an umbrella holder and a flip-down kiddie mirror are all standard. The midlevel Touring adds a power driver seat and pedals, power outside mirrors, a power liftgate, power-sliding doors, Stow 'n Go seating and rear air-conditioning. Chrysler expects most people will opt for this version of the T&C. The Touring also offers more options than the LX. The MyGIG hard drive audio system with navigation, heated front and rear seats, power-folding third-row seats, a sunroof and other features are only available as options on the Touring.
Optional equipment in general is plentiful. A rear-seat DVD player, a 115-volt household-style outlet and Sirius Satellite Radio are included in Entertainment Group 1. Available exclusively on Chrysler and Dodge minivans is Sirius Backseat TV. This option allows you to watch family-friendly television. The channels include Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. Cartoon Network and Nick in this form are actually specially selected portions of those channels' programming so your kids won't stumble upon Adult Swim late at night.
Other notable options include another entertainment package that adds a separate video source and screen to the third row. Surround-sound audio is a stand-alone option. Leather seats, retractable sunshades, remote start, power-adjustable pedals, three-zone automatic climate control and UConnect hands-free phone are available options as well. Many of those features are standard on the T&C Limited.
Powertrains and Performance
Chrysler's Town & Country is available with three engines. Base LX models get a 3.3-liter V6 that makes 175 horsepower. This engine gets a four-speed automatic transmission. Touring models come standard with a 3.8-liter V6 producing 197 hp. Both the 3.3- and 3.8-liter V6s are carried over from the previous minivans. A new 4.0-liter V6 makes its debut in the 2008 Town & Country and makes 251 hp. It's standard on the Limited. That new engine, as well as the 3.8-liter V6, is hooked up to a new six-speed automatic transmission.
As you would expect, the smaller 3.3-liter V6 gets the best fuel economy, with a 2008 EPA rating of 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway. Both the 3.8-liter engine and the new 4.0-liter engine post EPA ratings of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway.
A lengthy list of standard safety equipment is now standard on all models, even the budget-priced LX. Traction control, stability control, antilock brakes with brake assist and three rows of head curtain airbags are all standard. A rear parking camera and parking sensors are standard on the Limited but optional on other trim levels. A built-in child booster seat is a stand-alone option.
Interior Design and Special Features
Though let down by occasional low-quality plastics, the Chrysler Town & Country features a versatile interior. There are three different interior configurations. Stow 'n Go is standard on the Touring and gives the van the flexibility of folding all seats into the floor. When the seats are up and in place, the well those seats fold into becomes a large storage area. Swivel 'n Go is another option, and allows the second-row captain's chairs to swivel around and face the rear seat. A small table is included and can be installed in this configuration. With the T&C primed for cargo, a competitive 144 cubic feet of space is available.
With the 4.0-liter V6, acceleration from the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country is impressive; we've timed the van at a quick 8.2 seconds for the 0-60-mph run. The lesser V6 engines are, as you might imagine, less impressive. Those who appreciate the handling standard set by the Honda Odyssey might be a bit disappointed by the Town & Country. Although it intentionally places comfort over sportiness and is quiet on the highway, the Chrysler's slower responses don't promote much driving enjoyment.