The real technology feast comes inside the car. Ours came with the navigation package, a hard-drive-based system that includes dynamic routing around traffic jams. We were pretty happy to hear the car tell us that it was recalculating our route based on new traffic information a couple of times.
But the interface for the infotainment system is far from pretty, using chunky graphics. The map display is on the small side, and we found destination input sluggish with the touch screen. The system also doesn't show explicit route guidance graphics on the LCD, although it does show turn-by-turn information on the instrument cluster display.
Chrysler takes things a step further than merely storing MP3s on the infotainment system's hard drive; you can also load pictures onto it from a USB thumb drive. It only stores a limited number of pictures, which are intended to show up as backgrounds on some of the screens, letting you customize the look.
Although there is a USB port in the face of the infotainment unit, it isn't meant for an iPod cable. There is a dedicated iPod cable in the upper glove compartment. We found the iPod interface on the touch screen very usable, with big buttons for artist, album, tracks, and genres. The audio system sounded a little bit muddy, but it is definitely much better than average, filling the large cabin of the Town & Country.
We previously tested a Town & Country with Sirius Backseat TV. Our current test car had a similar system, which we were able to route to either the middle- or third-row ceiling-mounted LCDs or the front LCD when the transmission was in park. The quality is very good with this service, but the channels are limited to Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network, obviously aimed at entertaining the kids.
But our car came with a second mobile TV system, this one from. The Flo.TV system wasn't well-integrated with the Town & Country, as it was plugged into the auxiliary video jack and the remote was attached to a long wire coming out of the lower glove compartment.
We liked the channel selection from Flo.TV better than that of Sirius television, as it includes the major cable news networks, ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, and MTV, for a total of 16 channels. However, the video quality looked a little rough.
Coverage for Flo.TV, which comes from terrestrial towers, isn't as good as that of Sirius television. In the middle of San Francisco, we were able to get both channels in with no interruption. We then took the minivan out to the beach, in an area with very limited cell phone reception. Sirius television continued to work, but we had no signal from Flo.TV.
Next, we drove up a mountain, stopping at a spot that overlooked the San Francisco Bay Area. Here, Sirius television worked without a hitch, but the Flo.TV signal was limited. The audio came through, but the video quickly froze, leaving us with a still image.
Though impressed that Chrysler incorporated two mobile television tuners and a Wi-Fi router in the 2010 Town & Country, we think that the implementation could be more refined. The infotainment system helps the cabin tech score, especially for the dynamic routing in the navigation system and the iPod support.
The interface design for the cabin tech gets complicated when you try to figure out which video source goes to which screen, and it isn't pretty. The heavy use of hard plastics in the cabin also affects the design score. But we like the smart seating, which can fold entirely into the floor. As for performance tech, the six-speed automatic is the only feature that keeps it from mediocrity. Far more efficient engines are being used by other automakers.
|Model||2010 Chrysler Town & Country|
|Power train||4-liter V-6|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/25 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||17 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Optional|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible single CD player/single DVD player|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive, USB drive, Satellite Radio|
|Audio system||506-watt 10-speaker system|
|Driver aids||Blind-spot warning, backup camera|
|Price as tested||$42,030|