2011 Chrysler Town & Country Review

Much improved, but also much harder to justify

2011 Chrysler Town & Country Review

Chrysler’s having a tough time of late convincing customers that its latest efforts really are improved. But given how poorly designed and built the automaker’s products have been over the last decade, it isn’t all that surprising. Trying to get a current Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna owner to even set foot in a similarly equipped Town & Country without resorting to flat-out bribery will be, ahem, challenging.


1. Upgrades include a restyled exterior, an upgraded suspension and a complete overhaul of the interior with a new dash, instrument cluster and better quality materials.

2. A new 3.6L Pentastar V6 gets 17/25-mpg, equal to the old 4.0L engine but with significantly more power at 283-hp.

3. Advanced safety features include a blind spot monitoring system, rear parking sensors, a back-up camera and a rear-cross path system to warn of oncoming cars or pedestrians.

4. Pricing ranges from $30,160 to $38,660.

That will be frustrating both to Chrysler Corp., itself and the dealers since the improvements made to the 2011 T&C are worth crowing over. Beyond the big box itself, nearly everything inside and out is new, refined, tweaked and massaged to bring Chrysler’s people-mover squarely into the 21st century.


Like its Dodge Grand Caravan cousin, the plusher and more luxurious T&C gets a new front grille, bumper and lower fascia that incorporate chrome and satin metal touches to mimic the revised 200 sedan. The rear looks all-new too, with a chromed scuff plate, re-profiled tailgate and LED taillights. The T&C also takes ideas from Subaru’s Outback of all places; the roof-rack’s cross-rails tuck into the main rails until you need them, providing both a cleaner look and less aerodynamic drag than fixed ones.

Although the silhouette hasn’t changed, these efforts are enough to trick the eyes, although the standard 16-inch wheels – and even the 17-inchers on mid- and upscale models – look too small for the vehicle’s size.

But any minivan’s raison d’etre is hauling people and their stuff in relative comfort and safety. The ’11 T&C takes ‘relative’ out of the equation. Gone are the sharp-cornered dash, console and door cards, replaced with soft-touch plastics, and higher-quality controls. That dashboard used to be made of seven separate pieces bolted, clipped and screwed together, which was cheaper but squeaked and rattled only months after purchase. Now it’s only one molded unit, cutting down on noise and improving future happiness too.

The front seats are supportive, the major controls are well thought out, including the steering wheel, HVAC and analog clock. The only complaint comes from the now-aging touch-screen stereo, Bluetooth and (optional) Garmin-based navigation unit. The graphics are embarrassing and uConnect has been bested by Ford’s excellent SYNC system for dealing with voice commands and hands-free operation.

The Stow ‘n Go second-row seats are now larger and much more comfortable, but still fold into the floor in a packaging miracle, while the third-row remains largely the same. Cargo room hasn’t changed, but still offers 33 cu-ft with all rows in use, 83 cu-ft with the rears folded flat, and 143 cu-ft in cargo-van mode. Perfect for hauling big dog kennels or full sheets of plywood from the home-improvement store.


The safety side is bolstered by standard ABS, traction and stability control, and brake assist, along with multi-stage airbags, blind-spot monitoring and a rear-cross path system to warn of oncoming cars or pedestrians. Rear-parking sensors and a back-up camera round out the package.

Moving under the skin nets just as many changes. The most noticeable is in the engine bay, where a modern 3.6-liter PentaStar V6 has replaced the ancient 3.8-liter and 4.0-liter lumps. Horsepower is now up to 283 and there’s 260 lb-ft of torque too, a significant upgrade. The standard six-speed automatic transmission helps it deliver 17-mpg in the city and 25-mpgon the highway. Acceleration is strong and smooth too, and the six-speed doesn’t hunt for gears on winding roads. A far cry from the rough and tumble paint-shakers from before.

The suspension has been tweaked and re-tuned as well, with larger shocks, standard Michelin tires, and the whole van rides about an inch lower than before. Even with the standard weight- and fuel-saving electric power steering, response is pretty good. There’s obviously still some lean, but Chrysler’s done an admirable job of finding the ride/handing balance. It’s a tad softer than the Dodge GC, but that’s more fitting of the T&C’s luxe vibe.


The price of entry? A not insignificant $30,160 for the Touring model, which seems to have crossed the psychological barrier customers have for Chrysler products. Its mechanical twin, the Grand Caravan, runs from $24,000 to $30,600, so the T&C is being positioned firmly as a step up from the Dodge without much price overlap. The Touring-L adds a few more convenience features, like rear-seat air conditioning, power adjustable pedals, manual window shades, and remote start, along with 17-inch wheels, for a $2,000 premium.

However, the top-line Limited runs within a whisker of $40K, losing whatever value proposition it used to have against the Japanese competition. A loaded Sienna is only a few hundred more, while the top-line Odyssey tops out at $43,000. Even with the added dual video screens, heated steering wheel, HID headlights, and keyless entry and ignition, Chrysler doesn’t have the reputation for quality and reliability yet to start charging those prices relative to the competition.


So functionally and aesthetically, the 2011 Town & Country is a win for Chrysler, but will certainly be hampered by the company’s very aggressive pricing scheme. Best to wait for the inevitable rebates.


2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Review

2011 Toyota Sienna: First Drive 2011 Honda Odyssey Review – First Drive

2011 Nissan Quest Review

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked