16. April 2014
One of the most profound mysteries of our time is why people don’t like minivans.
The usual explanation is that there is a stigma attached to that body style, one that says, in effect, that one is a grownup. Yet the same person who has enough sense not to wear a tube top or a muscle shirt after the skin isn’t as taut as it once was still thinks that by buying a full-size SUV (to meet the three-row seating requirement of the family and/or members of the baseball or soccer team) they are somehow still bathing in the fountain that Ponce de Leon never found.
The people who buy those full-size SUVs (to say nothing of the midsize SUVs with that structure that is alleged to be a third row) ought to have to spend a couple hours back there and see how effective it is. The word “comfort” doesn’t even apply.
Chrysler introduced the minivan in 1983. This means that it is over 30. Most of the people who ought to be buying minivans are probably in that demographic, too.
Because Chrysler was the pioneer in this space, it is easy to understand that it has unmatched knowledge of the characteristics of what makes a good minivan. Indeed, there is probably tribal knowledge throughout the HQ building in Auburn Hills that is so engrained that it isn’t even conscious. They simply know minivans.
Realize that while Chrysler has gone through all manner of ownership contortions over the years that the minivan has been around, it is the only one of the once-Big Three that still produces the product for the U.S. market.
GM bailed in 2008, after bizarre (the “dust buster” style) and pathetic (the “crossover sport vans,” because consumers could be fooled that their minivans were really something else) attempts.
For Ford it was the Aerostar, the Windstar, then the Freestar. It was the deathstar for the minivans in 2007, the end of the run.
But Chrysler endures and its competitors are now Honda with the Odyssey and Toyota with the Sienna. With those two vying for customers who are sufficiently comfortable with their chronology to opt for automotive utility, you know that Chrysler has had to up its game, not rest on its laurels.
Now this is not to say that Chrysler hasn’t done I what I consider to be some silly things in the minivan space. Like the Town & Country S.
What constitutes the more “sinister” minivan, undoubtedly meant to appeal to the male demographic, the guy who really wants a Charger but has too many payments on his charge card thanks to the kids always needing new shoes, is that there is an abundance of black, inside and out. There are a black chrome grille and a black rear fascia step pad. There are blacked-out headlight bezels and polished 17-in. aluminum wheels with black painted pockets. There are black Torino leather seats with black Ballistic cloth seat inserts and piano black gloss trim appliqués. And there are “S” logos on the seats and even in the instrument cluster.
There is also a “performance suspension,” but unless is running some sort of junior gymkhana in the high school parking lot. . . .
So let’s not get silly with the S. Let’s just say that Chrysler builds seriously fine minivans and the Town & Country is one of them. If you like the look, go for it. If you don’t, there are Touring and Limited models, too.
Maybe if you buy one, people won’t think you’re young. Maybe they’ll think you’re sensible. Perish the thought, eh?
Engine: 3.6-liter, DOHC, V6
Horsepower: 283 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Materials: Aluminum block and heads
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 121 in.
Length: 202.8 in.
Width: 78.7 in.
Height: 69.9 in.
Curb weight: 4,652 lb.
Passenger volume: 163.5 cu. ft.
Max. cargo volume: 143.8 cu. ft.
Passenger + cargo volume: 195.8
EPA: 17/25 mpg city/highway