If television has become a modern baby sitter, the 2010 Chrysler Town & Country qualifies as a supernanny. The Limited version minivan Chrysler sent to us came equipped with three LCDs, two mobile TV tuners, and a DVD player. And it is possible to put a different video source on each screen, with wireless headphones to keep audio from becoming a cacophony.
Although kid-hauling may be the first thing that comes to mind with the Town & Country minivan, it can also serve as an executive team ride, its plush seats providing comfortable seating for seven and anmaking Wi-Fi available for on-the-go e-mailing. Throw in Chrysler's Swivel 'n Go rear seats, and you've got a conference room on wheels.
Anybody who loves driving is going to dread tooling around in a minivan, and we're no different. But the 2010 Town & Country makes for an affable ride, as every component of the car seems tuned for softness. The suspension's long travel makes this minivan float down the freeway, eating up potholes and other asphalt defects, communicating only a slight murmur to the cabin.
Chrysler's Stow 'n Go seats fold completely away into the floor, making for a large, flat load surface.
Similarly, the steering is exactly the opposite of twitchy. The Town & Country can go around corners, but you don't want to be driving fast, as any passengers will start to feel a little seasick from the wallowing. That said, we never felt that the Town & Country was anything less than safe. It felt perfectly controllable, and employs standard stability control, traction control, and antilock brakes.
Three different engines are available for the Town & Country, each coming with a different trim level. Our Limited trim version gets motivated by a 4-liter V-6, a somewhat ancient engine lacking any modern efficiency technologies such as variable valve control or direct injection. As such, it only makes 251 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque.
That power is enough to move the Town & Country satisfactorily; we even got the front wheels to chirp on a rainy day. In Touring trim, the Town & Country gets a 3.8-liter V-6, whereas the LX has a 3.3-liter V-6. Strangely, the EPA fuel economy is 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for the 4-liter, 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for the 3.8-liter, and 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the 3.3-liter. We achieved a very unspectacular 17 mpg over a variety of different roads.
The six-speed automatic transmission includes a manual shift mode, with gear changes made by moving the shifter right and left.
Part of the fuel economy discrepancy can be explained by the six-speed automatic in the Limited and Touring trims; the LX is saddled with a four-speed. The six-speed automatic in the higher trim vehicles is the most modern feature of the drivetrain.
We would like to see Chrysler standardize on a single engine with modern efficiency technologies for the Town & Country, and make the six-speed automatic standard across the board, a move that would make a more efficient production line.
For the 2010 model year, Chrysler added blind-spot detection, which lights up a warning icon in the side-view mirror if a car is sitting in the lane next to the Town & Country. When we used the turn signal while it was lit up, a warning chime would sound. We like these systems, but Chrysler's implementation is hyperactive.
When we used the turn signal to move from the fast lane to the middle lane, the blind-spot detection would pick up the cars in the slow lane as we moved over, causing the warning chime to sound off. Blind-spot detection mechanisms on other cars we've tested didn't have this problem, suggesting that Chrysler needs to refine the programming.
The Town & Country also came with a backup camera, an essential feature on such a boxy vehicle. But the display is basic, lacking any distance or trajectory overlays.
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.