>>Now, these guys invented the minivan, but today everyone's reinventing the minivan because it's the car that most of us want to drive with a bag on our head. So, let's see what Chrysler does as of 2010 in the Town & Country Limited and check the tech.
Now, normally when I show you a car I start up in the cabin where all the electronics and the high tech lives but in this car I want to start with a different form of tech, some kind of mechanical tech what's called stow-and-go. I didn't have to pull the seats out of here and blowout my back they disappeared into the belly of the vehicle. Now, in the second row things are a little more, shall we say, medieval. These seats aren't powered though they still disappear into the belly of the van. They're are counter sprung and you pick up the floor like this, pull the seat over like that, put the floor plan back into place and do like so. A little more work and I counted nine ways to loose a finger, I might have missed a couple but not bad.
Now, for my next trick I'm going to show three sources of DVD at once in one vehicle. I'm doing it right now. Check it out. On the third-row screen that's Sirius Backseat TV, three channels of kid's programming. Here on the second-row screen I'm playing a DVD off the drive in the front console. Up on the front monitor I'm looking at 19 different cable channels from FlowTV wirelessly and this system is as frustrating as it is flexible. You've got two remotes, one wireless, one wired. The FlowTV is dealer installed. The DVD and the satellite TV is factory installed and they don't really talk to each other all that well unless you figure out an interface on the front dash that's more complicated than the Iraqi Government.
It's when I get in the front row that I realize all that tech fads away and I feel the nightmares that Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat which just bought Chrysler must have every night and the center image of those nightmares is this cabin. This is some of the worst molded hard plastic in production vehicles today above the price of $20,000 and this van is well above that and I'm never a big fan of impractical Miami beige in a car. It's going to be carrying tons of kids. However, here it is but even worse, trimmed in shamwow up here on the top. What? Now, we have the upgraded head unit which they call the media center has a lot of sources but again it's a little complicated. If you flip open the display, you've got one optical drive. If you go down here, you got another optical drive, that's part of the confusion of what plays where. Navigation, of course, on this guy: Good interface, very clear and also very easy to hit on the touch screen. Things respond quickly. The resolution is good and the layout is good on things like buttons and graphics but once you get into a map, you start to realize this is a little bit subpar. No. Make that a lot sub par. You have many views 3D and 2D, North, Up, Direction of Travel, the usual stuff. And again, operating it is fairly easy but looking at it, it's not.
Your media sources are AM/FM, no HD radio. You've got Sirius Satellite Radio. TV, in this case, refers to that Sirius Backseat TV I showed you. HDD, hard disk drive, this system is hard drive based and you can put some music on there. I'm not entirely sure how much. It's a 30 Gig drive; I don't know if you've got 30 Gig for you and its not real clear in the Chrysler materials. This gets to your optical disc, aux inputs of course, VES is the rear seat entertainment system and this is where you get into that complicated matrix of what shows where in what mode. The last tech toy in the cabin I want to tell you about is one we can't see but it's got what they call "You Connect Web," it picks up 3G data wherever you're driving in coverage turns it into a Wi-Fi hotspot in the vehicle. Even when they got about 800k for all connected users so it's not really major broadband but it's one of the few cars that has any band on-the-go.
And in driving this big box is an experience in going back, back when they made these cars this floaty. The ride is comfortable though. There's ample power when you get into it through this 6V automatic which is kind of advanced stuff for a minivan. But the floaty handling and this loosey-goosey gear shift and this numb steering wheel and this transmission calibration is kind of like putting power through a slurpee machine, it's just slush all the way through. You can just put one finger on the wheel and pilot this thing more than drive it.
Okay, let's price this 2010 Town & Country Limited. It's top of the line so a lots in there but not everything. About $38,500 gets you started but we haven't gone CNET style until we add the media center, $1,300. Pretty good value for the navigation system, Bluetooth hands free also the backup camera, the iPod adapter, it's a nice mix of stuff. You're going to want that. Now, some ala carte stuff you gotta think about. You Connect Web, the mobile wireless router, $500 plus $30 a month or more for your data. Five Hundred Ninety-five dollars for those power folding rear seats. You're going to want to spend another $629 for FlowTV, that's all those cable channels coming in wirelessly and to have something to see them on you need the dual second and third-row rear seat entertainment system, that's $2,000 but that includes Sirius Backseat TV hardware.
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