What's New for 2011
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country receives a restyled exterior and a greatly improved cabin. An all-new 3.6-liter V6 and a retuned suspension also make it a lot better to drive. The Swivel 'n Go seating option has been dropped.
If the phrase "luxury minivan" strikes you as an oxymoron, allow us to suggest you have a look at the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country. Though minivans have long been among the most utilitarian vehicles out there, the folks at Chrysler decided there's room at the top of this segment for a decidedly more upscale version that combines luxury car amenities with the minivan's many practical benefits.
To achieve that goal, Chrysler started with a subtle exterior makeover. While you might not be able to put your finger on all of the changes, taken together the host of new styling details here do a lot to set the Town & Country apart from its more working-class sibling, the Dodge Grand Caravan.
The biggest change to this substantially revised Town & Country is inside, however. The outgoing model's low-budget passenger cabin has been replaced with an elegant new design and upgraded materials that both look and feel noticeably richer. There have also been a number of functional improvements here too, including Stow-n-Go second-row seats that have been redesigned with greater comfort in mind.
Less obvious, but no less important, are the mechanical changes lurking beneath the updated sheet metal. The combination of an all-new 283-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine and a nicely recalibrated suspension make driving this new Town & Country a much more enjoyable experience.
Of course the Town & Country isn't the only new model chasing well-heeled buyers. Top trim levels of the redesigned Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna are especially nice and also benefit from more refined drivetrains. But the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country's combination of meaningful upgrades and upscale optional features make us think that Chrysler calling its T&C a luxury minivan might not be much of a stretch after all.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan is offered in three trim levels: Touring, Touring-L and Limited.
The entry-level Touring model comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, a roof rack, power sliding doors, a power tailgate and rear parking sensors. Inside you'll find air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, Stow 'n Go second-row seats, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, full power accessories (including second-row power windows and third-row power vents), a conversation mirror, a back-up camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 115-volt AC power outlet, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a six-speaker CD sound system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and digital music storage.
Moving up to the Touring-L model gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming side mirrors, remote ignition, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats and second- and third-row window shades. The top-of-the-line Limited model adds xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, upgraded leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, Bluetooth, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment center with twin display screens, Sirius Backseat TV and a nine-speaker premium audio system.
Some of the standard features found on the upper Town & Country trim levels can be added to the lower trims via optional packages. Other major options include a sunroof, a power-folding third-row seat, second- and third-row window shades, Bluetooth, Sirius Travel Link satellite data service, a rear-seat DVD entertainment center with dual video screens and Sirius Backseat TV.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that puts out 283 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque. The engine drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. In Edmunds testing, the Town & Country accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, about a half-second slower than the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country comes with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, full-length side curtain airbags, front seat side-impact airbags and a driver knee airbag. A blind-spot monitor and a rear cross-path detection system are also standard.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Town & Country came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, an average distance for a minivan.
Interior Design and Special Features
For 2011, the Chrysler Town & Country's interior gets a major makeover. While the dimensions remain largely unchanged, virtually everything else is new and improved, resulting in a passenger cabin that seems downright posh on the top-of-the-line Limited trim level.
There are some notable functional changes here as well, including redesigned versions of Chrysler's Stow 'n Go second-row seats that are more comfortable than before. Unlike other minivans that require the removal of the middle row of seats to achieve maximum cargo capacity, the Stow 'n Go seats fold flat into the floor. Operating these seats is fairly simple, and only a quick tug of a strap and a few gentle yanks are required to make them disappear into the floor.
The third-row seats are also comfortable, but headroom may be tight for taller folks and shorter folks may find the aggressive tilt of the seat cushion to be like sitting in a dentist's chair. The 60/40-split third-row seat can be had with a slick power-folding option and can also be flipped backward to create comfortable seating for tailgate parties and the kids' soccer games. Several Edmunds editors of different heights, however, noticed that the driver seat and pedals are mounted too close together, even when moved to the widest setting offered by the power adjustments.
With all three rows of seats in use, the Town & Country offers a healthy 33 cubic feet of cargo room. Folding down the second- and third-row seats creates a flat load floor with a competitive 143.8 cubic feet of space.
The multiple mechanical changes make the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country a contender. But segment leaders like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are still steps ahead through their enhancements for 2011. By comparison, the T&C lacks some of the refinement found in the Honda and Toyota. The Chrysler's engine, while powerful, sounds and feels rougher, and there's an odd whistling noise under deceleration. The six-speed automatic transmission does an admirable job of keeping power on tap, but gearchanges can be jarring. The steering effort is slightly heavier and the suspension is a bit less compliant as well. On the highway, we've also noticed some creaks and squeaks, although nothing compared to the outgoing model.