By KBB.com Editors
Although it was temporarily overshadowed by the SUV as the symbol for family transport in third-millennium America, as recently as 2007 almost a million families opted for the arguably more functional minivan. Chrysler is widely credited with inventing the modern minivan and will soon be the only domestic manufacturer left in the game, as GM and Ford effectively replace their slow-selling minivans with three-row crossover SUVs. Fresh from last year's complete redesign, the 2009 Chrysler Town & Country – and the less chromed and woodgrained Dodge Grand Caravan – refine the segment by offering attractive seating and entertainment options clever enough to remain competitive with rival minivans from Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai and Kia.You'll Like This Car If...
With features like an available Swivel 'n Go setup that configures into a table for four people and dual, independent video monitors that can display DVD movies, video games or satellite-based SIRIUS Backseat TV, Chrysler's fifth-generation minivan is the obvious choice for satisfying rear-seat riders.You May Not Like This Car If...
While the Town & Country's ride and handling are well-balanced, you may prefer the softer Toyota Sienna or the more eager Honda Odyssey. Also, while the Town & Country's interior has been greatly improved versus its predecessor and feels more sophisticated than the Grand Caravan's, we feel there's still room for improvement.What's New for 2009
Both the LX and Limited receive more standard equipment. LX trims now feature three-zone air conditioning, second-row power windows and third-row power vent windows as well as a combination temperature/compass/trip computer gauge. New options include a Blind Spot Monitoring system, dual 9-inch DVD view screens with swiveling third-row screen and the Rear Cross Path system, which warns drivers backing up of objects approaching them.Driving It Driving Impressions
If you've found the ride and handling of other minivans too soft or too firm, you might appreciate the Chrysler minivans' balance between highway comfort and around-town responsiveness. We also appreciated the surprisingly competent steering and braking response, and found the 4.0-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission combination that's exclusive to the Town & Country Limited model especially responsive and plenty powerful. The 3.8-liter V6 engine that we tested in the Grand Caravan is also satisfying, but the more powerful 4.0-liter version delivers identical EPA fuel economy. We'd look elsewhere in the segment before settling for the 175-horsepower base V6. The Chrysler minivans aren't as nimble in parking lots as the exceptionally tight-turning Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.Favorite Features
In addition to the comprehensive uconnect gps infotainment system up front, Chrysler's newest minivan offers dual, independent rear video screens that allow second- and third-row passengers to watch two different DVD movies, play video games or even watch the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network Mobile via SIRIUS Backseat TV.
Swivel 'n Go Seats
Although not without legroom challenges, the Swivel 'n Go seating option that comprises swiveling second-row captain's chairs and a hideaway, removable table takes the concept of the rolling family room to a new level. The fold-flat Stow 'N Go seating system introduced on the previous generation is also available.