Chrysler's Town & Country (and its cousin, the Dodge
Caravan) shot out of the gate a year or so ago, they nearly
knocked the competition off of the track. That was thanks
to the innovative "Stow 'n Go" seating system
that gobbles up second and third row seating with a couple
of quick flips and leaves a cavernous interior for hauling
stuff instead of siblings. (In a rear view corporate mirror,
the Chrysler kind must be enjoying watching the competition
scramble to catch up on that.)
& Country, in its latest iteration, bears a strong family
resemblance to the crossover Pacifica. But that only goes
so far. This remains a minivan in the purest form of the
word, a two-decade-old segment-establishing heritage Chrysler
isn't likely to disavow any time soon. As it moves into
2006 models with virtually no major changes due, Chrysler
leans on the concept that it got it right in the first place.
Now it stresses its comfort and safety amenities, touting
its "first ever" inflatable knee blocker in a
minivan. Top Five-Star front and side-impact crash ratings
bolster its safety standing. While flexible seating cushions
the body, multi-stage "Occupant Classification System"
airbags cushion the impact (if one should occur). Optional
side-curtain airbags, tire pressure sensors, and loose fuel
cap warning also boost safety.
there's an available nav system. And CD/DVD changers, for
'06, now play any disc, including MP3 and DVD audio. Sycamore-look
wood accents highlight the technology-rich interior, with
its available hands-free, Bluetooth-based communications
and SIRIUS satellite radio for serious radio listeners.
comes in four versions, with short or long wheelbase and
3.3 or 3.8-liter V-6 power, in the mid-20s price range.
We find it perpetually enjoyable to drive -- and play with
its numerous seating configurations. And we all know Chrysler.
Their execs must be smiling behind closed doors. If they've
shown us nothing else, it's to suspect -- let's make that
to know -- that they're brewing something meant to knock
future rivals off of the track once again. We can't wait.