By on August 19, 2013
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I have learned over the years that is a lot more fun to shop for a car than it is to actually purchase one. In my mind’s eye every vehicle is perfect and every feature, every positive point comes to the fore. Every problem is easily fixed or is otherwise so minor it doesn’t even bear thinking about. Money is never a problem either and I can seriously think about leather, satellite radio and a giant, gas sucking V8 without wondering how I am going to pay for it all. Yes, locked up inside my head, everything is always perfect and so I like to take the time to savor the moment before committing myself. Ultimately, however, the rubber must meet the road.

front

There was never any real question about what I was going to buy, was there? Although I toyed with some of the foreign competition, I knew what I wanted from the moment I determined we needed to replace our ailing Freestar and we did, in fact, choose exactly that: a Chrysler Town & Country. Of course, I know that some of you are scratching your heads right now, the competition is good and even the T&C’s close cousin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, is a hell of a deal right now, so why step up?

To be honest it was the Dodge Grand Caravan that brought us into the show room. We rented one on a trip home to Seattle last Thanksgiving and found it to be utterly competent in everything it does. The problem is that we wanted a few additional features not offered on the $19,990 American Value Package, things like a powered lift gate and doors, a back-up camera and other interior comfort options, and so, once we really got to looking at what we could buy in a Dodge, I figured we might as well step up to the Town & Country Touring. Then of course, one thing led to another and I ended up taking the next step to a T&C “S” model.

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So, what the hell is a “Town & Country S?” Well, Chrysler’s website says that the S Line is a “fusion of edgy design and American grit that defines the Chrysler brand. These are vehicles for the uncompromising and the sophisticated, those who crave aftermarket excitement as much as elegance.” That’s me in a nutshell right there. I am such an edgy, gritty guy that I wanted my wife’s minivan to have extras like a built-in navigation and a good looking set of wheels. The S was the only van on the lot that had those two things together and so I picked that one. As a bonus, the package also added some nice stylistic touches and included some extra technology. With a list price of just $32,050, and with incentives I didn’t pay anywhere near that, it seemed like a good deal so we bought it.

The S line is an option and appearance package offered on the Chrysler 200, 300 and the Town & Country. It comes in just four colors, Brilliant Black, Cherry Red, Billet Silver and Stone White and other than that, as far as Chrysler is concerned, S means “black.” In the T&C, the package adds black trimmed alloy wheels, black chrome grill, blacked out badges and blacked out headlight surrounds. Inside, the seats are black leather with grey stitching and black cloth inserts. A black console sits between the seats, and the dash has piano black trim insterts. The most elegant touch of all, I think, is a black headliner.

inside

The package also includes a fair amount of technology including a Blu-Ray disc player with 9 inch folding screens for both the second and third rows, navigation, satellite radio, UConnect with Bluetooth integration for our cell phones, and a sound system that includes a 40 Gig hard drive and on and on and on. I was born in the 60s and my first car came with an 8 track tape player, which was a big deal at the time, so the amount of technology loaded into the T&C amazes me. Had it not been included in the package, I would not likely have purchased a lot of the tech separately. The sat nav/UConnect is almost $900 on its own and the Blu-Ray would have added another $1000 and would have required us to step up to the T&C “L” which starts at $32,840 so you can see that the S model adds a great deal of real value in addition to the extra style.

inside 2

Under the hood all of Chrysler’s vans offer the 3.6 VVT 24 valve engine backed with a smooth shifting 6 speed transmission and the combination is a good one. Out on the road the van is quite spry off the line and will squeal the tires if I really stomp on the gas. Chrysler says the T&C S comes with a “sport suspension” and I must confess that I don’t really understand all that entails at this point but I do know that there is no way a van this size should handle as well as this one does. The 65 series tires hold the road well and the 17 inch rims allow enough side wall to keep the ride smooth. Grip is great and the T&C hangs in the corners with the best of them. It’s a lot of fun to charge into a cloverleaf interchange just a little hot and slide that big sucker through the curve. Seriously, it does better in a corner than my 300M Special did.

line

Fit and finish is great. Inside, the grey stitching sets off the black leather on the seats but the embroidered “S” is a detail I may have forgone if I had the choice. The dashboard is a good combination of black and chrome and it looks positively jewel like from behind the wheel. The touch screen is big and easy to read, but changing the radio requires touching the screen which leaves fingerprints. Although a plastic touch screen is state of the art, a glass facing ala the i-phone would have looked and felt better under my fingers. The black headliner makes the van feel darker inside and I thought I would dislike it but the effect is not at all, as I had feared, cave-like. In fact, I think the darker interior helps brighten the view out the front and helps to better focus my attention on the road ahead.

side

The attention to detail on the van’s interior is matched on the outside. I wasn’t sure how I would like the black chrome effect on the front of the van, but I think now it looks good. Chrysler was smart, however, the leave the chrome strip down the side of the van and although I barely noticed it at first it has become one of my favorite touches. Another detail that Chrysler’s design team got right was where they hid the body gap for rear sliders’ rollers, tucking them smartly beneath the back windows where they blend in well and are easily forgotten about. I opted for the grey and, as you can see in the photos, the T&C wears it well. The photos fail, however, to catch the metallic paint to its best advantage and in-person the effect is amazing as the sun’s rays strike fire from a million different facets.

Right now I am in that special place a man goes to whenever he brings home a new vehicle. It sits now in our garage and the aroma of fresh paint, new leather and curing rubber permeates the whole house. Although it is primarily my wife’s vehicle, I look forward to sliding behind the wheel and even spent most of Saturday afternoon sitting in the driveway loading Japanese MP3s into the audio system’s hard drive just so she would be “more comfortable.” This is the fifth new car I have purchased in thirty years as a licensed driver and, barring incidents and accidents, I know it will be with us for a long, long time. No one can know what the future holds, but right now, firmly in the honeymoon period of new car ownership, I am completely satisfied with our purchase. It is everything I imagined it would be.

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Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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120 Comments on “Final Decision: There Can Be Only One...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    Nice score, these are great vehicles.

    My dad (a driver of minivans for the last 20 years) got into a 2012 version of the Dodge counterpart of the T&C S, the Grand Caravan R/T, last year. A year and 10k miles in, he absolutely loves it. He took a 200 mile trip last week and was bragging to me that the trip computer said he averaged 29 mpg.

    I’ve driven it a few times and I agree that a minivan has no business handling that well, and it does charge hard. The best part is the stow n go seats which in a few seconds of lever pulling turn it into a caverous cargo van. And the stowable seats are even comfortable now, unlike when they were first released.

    Unlike the T&C S, the R/T has no exterior chrome trim, so in dark blue, it did appear a bit slab sided and bland so I added a red pin stripe from head to tail lamp and accross the liftgate. It looks great like that as it accents the red stitching of the seats and the tail lamp.

    As for repairs, the interior front passenger door handle rod came loose and was reattached under warranty. No other issues to report.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    Sweet ride Thomas! As an relatively recent convert to the minivan tribe and a 06 Odyssey Touring owner, I’ve been eyeing the Caravan and T&C with some interest. Though competent, the Odyssey clearly trails behind the current TC/Caravan in handling.

    The only hesitation I have about buying a Caravan when the time comes, is their propensity to use the most fragile components for the automatic transmission. Hopefully, the design of the new six-speed has finally addressed this concern. But just to be safe, maybe an early conversion to Amsmoil ATF and the installation of an aftermarket ATF cooler would be a good precautionary measure? Some studies have shown heat to be the main culprit in premature transmission failure. These two measures would probably go a long way in alleviating that risk.

    Do you mind me asking how much you paid for your van? One thing that always surprises me about Chrysler is that they are able to price US and Canadian minivan models largely at par. The “CANADIAN Value Package” sells for the same $19,990 here, only in Canadian dollars… :) Oddly, both the Sienna and Odyssey are easily 25% more pricey in Canada, compared to the same vehicle in the US.

    Anyhow, I hope you enjoy your new ride…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      This van will have a factory cooler which are fairly decent. As for fluid, I would strongly recommend sticking with the Mopar ATF+4 and use nothing else. The transmission is designed specifically for this fluid and if any problems occur with fluid other than this installed, no warranty for you.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Yes, Chrysler, Routan and Honda van owners, use the right automatic transmission fluid. Very important!

        As far as the “form follows function” dictum of good design, it’s hard to beat a minivan, especially Mopars. Maybe that’s why VW just rebadged the Caravan as a Routan, as it already was very Bauhaus.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      My buddy is closing in on 200,000 miles on his ’04 Caravan with the lowly 4-speed auto. Other than the usual maintenance (i.e. fluid changes) his transmission has been trouble free.

      In spite of all the BS on the ‘net, Chrysler solved the transmission issues on these years ago, so proceed without fear. Just change the fluid periodically and you will be fine. If you want to talk about fragile transmissions, that Odyssey is a ticking time bomb. Its not “if it will fail”, its “when it will fail”.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    When a board member on our road racing bulletin board posts his engagement/wedding announcement, I am wont to respond with the following:

    “Make sure you hold out for the “sport” version of whichever minivan she makes you sell your race car for”.

    Congratulations on your new “S” minivan.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Other than my purist visceral aversion to video entertainment in minivans, it sounds like a nice purchase. Many happy miles to you.

    All I’d recommend is changing the transmission fluid (and filter if it has one) every 25k miles, no matter what the mfr recommends.

    Living in western PA, the salt is deadly. I actually wash it off the cars inside my garage after every winter exposure, and it makes a big difference over the years.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “All I’d recommend is changing the transmission fluid (and filter if it has one) every 25k miles, no matter what the mfr recommends.”

      great advice, if it was still 1995. The 41TE was “made right” a long time ago, and the 62TE has not (to my knowledge) ever had endemic problems like the A604/41TE was known for.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I disagree transmission fluid degrades with time and heat. 25K is a good interval, 50K is the bare minimum, and past that is pushing it.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          +1000 to it on any vehicle. I changed my Mazda 5′s fluid because at 30k, it was brown. I was even more ashamed that I didn’t check it more often.

          Mazda, like most other manufacturers, doesn’t list a change interval ( 08 2.3/5 spd auto, not sure about the ’10+ vans. Just to sell another car at 75k when the tranny goes? Not an uncommon fail point in looking around the Mazda forums and not enough of these around to make for Honda levels of transmission issues.

          My brother had two separate 07 Accords with V6 power and autobox. Even more picky than I when it comes to cars, he could feel the shift quality degrade when 30k miles were up and it needed done again.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +1 on keeping the tranny fluid changed frequently. Tranny fluid isn’t cheap, but it’s much cheaper than a new slushbox.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      At one point Chrysler used to recommend 30K on the trans fluid. That’s the number I would use.

  • avatar
    Sooke

    As much as I love cars, I can’t fathom the financial hit you take the moment you drive off the lot.

    Not to rain on your parade Thomas, but let’s say you had a family emergency and needed cash within a week. How much money could you get for the van, and what kind of loss would you be taking?

    I’m assuming of course that you didn’t finance or lease.

    • 0 avatar

      Is it really necessary to question another’s financial choices? Especially when said purchase allows Thomas to write an article that you can read, free of charge?

      • 0 avatar
        Sooke

        I think this would make a great article for TTAC – you’ve bought a new car, paid cash, and your situation immediately changes, and you need the money – fast.

        What are your options, and how much of a loss will you take.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Anyone who buys a new car then immediately needs to sell it to finance an emergency had no business buying a new car in the first place.

          Anyone I meet who buys a new car, I just give the benefit of the doubt that they can afford it without having to choose between the new ride and catastrophe should one arise.

          Of course that’s not always the case, but it’s not my place to question. Perhaps Sooke is Tom’s wife?

        • 0 avatar
          baggins

          No it wouldnt. Only a fool pays 30K cash for a new cars and only has enough reserves such that an emergency would require him to turn around and sell it shortly thereafter.

          If you are paying 30K cash for a car, you should prob have 150K cash/liquid assets available, in which the only emergency that would result in your scenarios is one between 150 and 180K.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a valid question, I suppose. This is a planned purchase that we have been looking at for a while. The problems with our Freestar just moved it up a little, but it was going to happen in the next year or so anyhow.

      This is the 5th new vehicle I have purchased in 30 years of licensed driving. I tend to keep my vehicles as long as possible and, knock on wood, this one should be with us for the next decade. Because I get the chance to to the break-in myself and can keep up on any problems as the occur I think it is a good long-term proposition.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I think you may want to start burning your garbage, Thomas, apparently Sooke found some information on your finances…

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          Nah, I think Sooke is just one of those wet blankets who’s so determined to only buy used cars (“let someone else take the depreciation hit”) that he/she can’t let someone else enjoy buying a new car.

          It’s kind of a short sighted attitude. Without us “fools” buying the news cars, where are the used cars going to come from? Sooner or later, with no new car sales, the last available used car is going to die.

          And I couldn’t believe the stupidity of the “how much can you liquidate it for if the bottom falls out?” question. While not everything can be planned for, someone who’s buying a new car, I should hope, has enough reserve built in to his finances to weather a downturn.

          • 0 avatar
            sitting@home

            In an unstable world it might actually be better to keep the the $30k in the bank and finance a new car. That way you have reliable transport for at least as long as the warranty, a fixed outlay for 4 or 5 years and a cash buffer in case something does go wrong.

            And if the world does come to an end, society collapses and the banks all vanish, you won’t have paid for the whole vehicle !

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I concur with Sitting@Home. In a “normal” economy with “normal” interest rates this may not be the case, but we don’t live in “normal” times do we?

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            When I used to be a Ford Zone Rep, I used to tell these used car buyers looking for an after warranty handout towards a repair that they were out of luck. They bought the previous owner’s maintenance habits (or lack thereof) and abuse of the car. On top of that, Ford didn’t make any money off of the used car (this was pre certified used car days) sale, so what would motivate me to help that person?

            The person who bought the car new took the risk and the financial loss associated with a new car purchase, plus we made money off of that guy – I want to help that guy because they will likely come back and buy another new car.

            On the other hand, studies show that the used car buyer (unless it is a kid/first time purchase) is generally always a used car buyer. The parent company will never make any money off of this person (save for a small amount for the certification fee on a certified pre-owned car if bought from a dealer) so why throw good money after bad?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            @wheeljack:

            Congratulations; you’re one of the reasons (admittedly just one of many) that I have not purchased any Ford vehicles since a 1994 Mustang 5.0, and one of many that I will continue to avoid any Ford products -despite being flush now – for the rest of my life.

            This Ford aversion no doubt has and will continue to influence immediate family members & their purchase decisions, and I know MANY people having similar experiences with Ford on repair issues, almost inevitably all subjected to shortsighted and flippant attitudes, in many cases crossing over into the realm of bad faith by Ford Reps, which probably was a significant factor in Ford’s “bet the house” strategy to avoid bankruptcy in 2009.

            It’s often a better long term strategy to practice goodwill as a business, especially in a capital intensive business such as auto manufacturing & retailing, where long term profitability and even survival can rest on past good faith gestures to cultivate loyal, repeat buyers.

            p.s. – The zone rep I dealt with came to Jerome Duncan Ford in Sterling Heights, and was one of the biggest pricks I’ve EVER had the misfortune of dealing with.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I agree with DeadWeight, it could be an attitude such as this that would not convert any used car buyer to Ford, but most certainly to another brand

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Deadweight, I know you want to make me out as some kind of monster, but it was corporate policy not to help 2nd owners*, not some arbitrary decision I made. The company had its business reasons for not doing so, and chief among them was the fact that multiple studies showed that used car buyers tend to remain used car buyers. The comments on here whenever the topic comes up of new vs. used tend to bear that out.

            And while I can appreciate that you had a bad experience with a Ford Zone Rep, so therefore I must be an a-hole as well, I often met with or spoke to customers that my contemporaries would flat out refuse to. A couple of examples:

            - A customer bought a used Lincoln Continental with 47,000 miles on it. At 127,000 miles, it began to leak transmission fluid from the bellhousing area – probably an input shaft seal leak or a front pump seal leak. It was the customer’s contention that this was a factory defect and he wasn’t taking no for an answer. I can assure you that a factory defect in the seal or the way it was installed would have shown up in the first few hundred or thousand miles at most.

            - An older gentleman who wanted his Mercury Grand Marquis bought back because the fuel computer MPG estimate was 2/10ths of a MPG different from his hand calculations. Yes, really….I’m not kidding.

            - Another fellow with a 10 year old Taurus with an auto trans that wanted Ford to provide him with a different shifter assembly that allowed access to all four forward gears – the stock shifter skipped right from first gear to drive (3rd gear). His reason for this request? He was trying to reduce brake pad wear by downshifting his AUTOMATIC transmission through each lower gear every time he slowed down.

            So as much as you want to paint me with the same brush as other Reps who slighted you, I was a very reasonable, nice guy who would at least listen to whatever grievance a customer had, even if I couldn’t help them.

            You also need to know that my authority limits were rather low at that time (mid to late 90′s). I couldn’t help anyone that was past 6 years or 60,000 miles from the original warranty start date. Maybe the limits are higher now since the warranties are longer.

            I only told this story so that people here could understand that there is some value in buying a new car – at least as far as the car company is concerned. In all likelihood, the person who bought a car new and had it serviced at a dealer will be treated differently should something unfortunate happen when the vehicle is out of warranty.

            * The only exceptions to the 2nd owner rule were people who bought an off-lease (or corporate management lease car) that was purchased at a company auction, or people who bought a former rental car. In either case, we considered the customer to be the first “retail” owner of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        AlfaRomasochist

        Easily the best deal out there right now. Of course there are tons of 2011-2013 used Dodge / Chrysler minivans available relatively cheaply but the vast majority are former rentals. Given the big incentives on a new unit I’d go that way myself, especially if you plan on running it into the ground like I do.

        So what would a comparable Honda / Toyota have run? Close to $40k? More? They may be arguably better vans, but they’re not THAT much better.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I’m not even sure one could make a sound argument that they are actually a better package at all.

        • 0 avatar
          cft925

          Agreed. A comparably equipped Caravan/T&C costs thousands less than an Odyssey or Sienna. Of course, many argue that the Honda and Toyota make up for the higher purchase price in reliability and resale value. Still, I am an owner of a Caravan Crew. It is the best handling minivan on the road, and my only gripe is the fuel mileage around town.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      It really depends on how much money is required for this family emergency. Anything over $3k that I could imagine needing would be covered by health insurance, home owner insurance, or vehicle insurance. I would not be buying a new car with cash if I couldn’t cover $3k on a whim. I don’t think I’d be buying a new car in general if that were the case.

      Disclosure: I’ve bought 3 new cars ranging from $24k to $34k. All loans were paid in full within 18 months of the purchase date. I’ve been tempted by luxury vehicles, and I think I can afford them, but I’m generally more comfortable with non-luxury as far as image, maintainability, and resale. I don’t live in a fancy neighborhood, so keeping up with the Jones is keeping Toyotas in the garage instead of Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      jrhmobile

      There are damned few people who buy minivans as a financial investment.

      Like none.

      Cars depreciate. They get older, and they break down. Some people feel comfortable buying used, saving themselves the age depreciation and gambling that the offsetting repair bills won’t add up to a bigger loss. Others are willing to take the depreciation hit in return for the security of getting the full value of their initial investment and having the security of factory warranties to ensure themselves against rude surprises.

      You don’t have to fathom their call. Because, after all, it’s their call. And heck, if they accidentally stepped in front of a bus, it wouldn’t matter either way. So I think you’re asking a bit much of him to walk a mile in your shoes. It’s kind that you offer your advice, but I think you’re asking a bit much for him to be chastized because he doesn’t share your point of view.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Sooke: Just how much money is ‘enough’ for a family emergency? It’s easy to imagine such an emergency that far outmatches the new car value, or even used car value. If he saved $5k by buying a used car – and still put out $20k for example – how would that be any better if the emergency need is $50k?

      I guess if I had such a need, I’d be visiting my bank, not selling my car.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Nice choice, I’ve found that those wheels make many Chryslers look good. I’ve noticed more people stepping up to the up-level wheels on the 200 and I dare say a 200 with those wheels, metallic paint, and tinted windows – looks downright (dare I say it?) menacing.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    My father love his circa 2000′s Chrysler or Chevy Venture. I have driven them and while only 200hp, the torque of the V6 and their make them light on their feet and fun to drive just the car Jack Baruth likes to take to the track.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    NO MANUAL GEARBOX…BURN HIM AT THE STAKE!

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Is this better than a Honda Odyssey, or is it just cheaper?

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Handles better, has Pentastar V6 and is cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Well, it probably won’t eat the transmission like an Odyssey.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.edmunds.com/autoobserver-archive/Complaints%20per%20100K%20Sold%20resized.JPG

        I’ve wondered about this, since I knew plenty of people that had Odysseys back when they were supposed to be munching transmissions like popcorn yet I haven’t met a single person that actually had a problem with a Honda transmission. 245 issues per 100,000 sold isn’t good, but it does seem odd that every single one of those transmissions was in a blog poster’s vehicle. Considering that they’ve been on a par with the other good minivans for almost a decade, it does illustrate how little meat Honda detractors get to chew on.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          My brother had the “glass transmission” Odyssey. I stressed to him and his wife that they should change the fluid every 30K miles which they did. With their gentle use, the transmission lasted 140K before it died. Not particularly great in today’s age, but hardly the disaster some make it out to be. Under my right foot, or had their son been of early driving age that mileage would likely have been less, but there’s no way to assign a number to that. The power slider doors created far more problems then any other system; each side required three repairs. That, and a few other modest repairs pretty much rounded up their experience. They replaced it with another Oddy, but his wife is heavily predisposed to Honda products. As unfair and illogical as it is, she will never buy anything else. I’d would agree that while there certainly are things Honda could improve upon (certainly when it comes to hybrids, and real air conditioning comes to mind), there are few, if any makers who would not wish to be in Honda’s position when it comes to real product design and quality.

          • 0 avatar
            gslippy

            Funny you’d mention the doors. Our former 05 ended up in Lemon Law court because of the power sliding doors, and the minute I got a small settlement, I traded that awful car.

            I never had it long enough to experience any transmission trouble, but I had already changed the fluid before it left my possession at 28k miles.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Excellent choice, in terms of both quality & comfort, as well as financial prudence – which is a combination that’s somewhat rare – and the choice I’d have made also if in your shoes.

    It’s refreshing to have writers-of-all-things-automotive share these kinds of decisions and details with their readers in a real world kind of way.

    Tony Swan (of Car & Driver) would have obviously opted to order a custom Panamera, lengthened, stiffened & lifted, by contrast, and would have proceeded to post a plethora of photos showing him thrashing his new ride (while wearing “driving gloves”), family in tow, at near triple digit speeds through the corkscrew at Laguna.

    The dude abides.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Color me jealous on this one!

    • 0 avatar

      Your 2011 article helped make this decision easy. Also, more importantly, now that I’ve been behind the wheel myself I know you aren’t just full of hot air.

      Now I just need to find me someone in a BMW to terrorize…

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        Jack’s article back in 2011 sold me as well. I traded my wife’s 2008 on a 2011 two years ago and haven’t been disappointed. Plenty of power, surprisingly good ride and handling and better on gas than anything this big and heavy should be (20 around town and 25+ on the highway).

        Minivans are incredibly useful vehicles and many people who buy SUV’s would probably be better served by a minivan. The guy at the furniture store couldn’t believe I didn’t bring a truck to pick up a new sofa and then was amazed when it swallowed it up.

        • 0 avatar
          JKC

          Jack’s article didn’t sell me on the T&C, but it did prod me to take a look. It blew the Sienna out of the water, and was a much better value than the Odyssey.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    I am a big fan of the minivan concept, especially if it’s the true “mini” in size like the Mazda5, Mazda MPV or the Ford Grand C-Max in Europe (not to be confused with the C-Max here in the US). I can even deal with the Odyssey and Caravan/Grand Caravan/T&C simply because I like the practicality and flexibility of the key design features of the minivan (sliding door, ease of entry/egress, seating/storage space conversion flexibility, etc.). The one disappointing thing about the larger minivan is the price has gotten out of whack (high $30s into the low $40s). I don’t see myself buying a T&C or even a Caravan (size consideration really) but I’m glad that Chrysler is reigning in the price so good on you Thomas.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Wow, very nice, I had no idea how nice the interiors have become, great purchase!

    Not to take away from anything, but those rims even at 17in for some reason look much bigger to me.

    EDIT: Also did you test the difference in ride between the “S” and a non “S”, I can’t see them making it ride much rougher, but I wondered if it’s even noticeable?

    • 0 avatar

      I did drive the touring version and several Dodge Caravans. The roads around hereare rough but I didn’t see any great difference in ride quality. Piloting my 300M Special on Buffalo roads sometimes felt like what I imagine flying a Liberator over Berlin back in ’44 must have been like so if there was a problem I would have felt it, I’m sure.

      All the vans handle great, by the way. I was really taken by the Grand Caravns, they have a certain flickability that the S seems to lack. It doesn’t shift its weight around much at all, it just drives into a corner and sticks where you put it. I haven’t tried to find the limit yet but it seems to be pretty high.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Very nice, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        As mentioned below, I spent a couple days with a G/C. The first time I summoned the stones to throw it into an onramp at a speed I usually reserve for smaller and quicker cars, I was prepared to plow straight into an undignified course correction, but it magically pivoted right around it’s middle and went in the direction I hoped against hope it would go.

        Truly awesome.

  • avatar
    Boff

    This Windsor resident approves of your purchase…how does the Dodge R/T version (the Man Van) compare?

    I’ve only been in one of these vans as a passenger in a dealership courtesy shuttle, and I’ve always been let down by how they crash and shudder over bumps.

    Finally, black headliners rock.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t been in an RT so I’ve no clue but they are close enough to the T&C in price that it was an easy decision to step up. For just a few more bucks the S model gave me more style, all the same performance goodies and the extra electronic gear I mentioned. It was a no brainer.

      They did have an SXT “Blacktop” on the lot and when we lined them up beside one another to make our final choice, the leather and extra equipment in the T&C just blew the Dodge out of the water. The Caravan is pretty good looking honestly, but I think the T&C was the right choice.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        When my father got into his R/T a year ago, the Grand Caravan and Town and Country could be ordered with virtually all the same options. With the same equipment, the GC R/T came in a few grand cheaper than the TC. That was then however, and I understand they ahve stepped up the incentives on the TC over the GC since. Said and done however, the difference between the two really comes down to which grille, trim and wheels you prefer.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Congrats on the purchase! It is not a bad one at all.

    If I were better at writing, I’d probably try to write a Baruthian review of the T&C, from when I rented one to go to Burning Man in 2010, and found it to be much friendlier in many ways, than the Sienna LE I ended up with a year later for the same trip. I was so happy with the one I rented, I even decided that if I had to buy some kind of utility vehicle that didn’t need to be a proper truck, I’d get a T&C.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Mopar’s van offering are simply the most versatile minivans you can buy. Nothing beats the stow ‘n’ go seating and they have the best (albeit least exciting) styling. The odyssey, sienna, and quest are all over done messes.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I do like the S treatment on these, except the leather/cloth seats. I have the same feeling about the Sienna SE too, except Toyota throws in 19 inch wheels for further irritation.

    I wish I was in the market right now. I’m not ready to buy a Chrysler, but the national lease deal is 199 mo/ 24 months with 3000 due at signing. It’s on the base Touring, which appears to have “leather” standard, a huge deal over the Honda or Toyota.

    I’d be willing to give Chrysler a shot for 24 months. They might get a convert out of it and I’d buy the next one.

  • avatar
    shelvis

    Congrats! I’ve rented these on several occasions with each time igniting a flurry of cars.com used car searches for a low mileage non rental example. As much as I would love an Envy Green Challenger R/T or a Varvatos 300 (my other cars.com searches), these T&C’s always win out on sheer practicality and comfort.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Hear, hear. I’ll very likely be buying a 1-2 year old T&C in the next 12 months. When you add up all the value, it’s hard to beat. Sure, I’ll consider the Caravan and Routan (which somehow manages to be the best-looking minivan while being built on the platform of one of the ugliest, yours included. No offense to your tastes, it’s a functional purchase.)

    If they let me have a third mortgage on my house, maybe a last-gen Odyssey. A third mortgage and gouge out my eyes, a new Odyssey.

    Minvans are just awesome. They do almost everything as well as a car while offering so much more space and flexibility. And I’m man enough to tell you I just don’t need a pickup truck for the occasional ton of cargo. A van works great and is easier to load.

    I’m halfway waiting to see the new Transit Connect Wagon this fall, but I’m not holding out much hope on features — I understand it will be pretty barebones, much like the Mazda5 it will partially cannibalize in its efforts towards being the worst-selling Ford next year ;)

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Same here. I would have never considered the Chrysler vans, but my brief experience with them as rentals ( Caravan, T&C and 300) puts them on my list. Pre-Fiat, no way. And I also will consider a Routan if I can find it for the right price and mileage.

      I noticed that the Chrysler seems to be quieter inside than the Dodge version. The S model of the T&C also does away with the old Detroit: “Well, we HAVE to make it look different AND more expensive. Put chrome everywhere!” Now plastichrome, which looks cheap and way too tacky/flashy to my import-biased mind.

  • avatar
    Zorak

    Per the article: …The touch screen is big and easy to read, but changing the radio requires touching the screen which leaves fingerprints…

    I thought radio controls were also offered on the steering wheel. Someone in the past wrote about (or commented) about redundant controls on the back side of the wheel. Perhaps that is just for the ‘seek’ function though.

    Regardless, thank you for posting a ‘real world’ perspective Thomas.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s true, there are a whole bunch of controls on the wheel that I am just learning to work right now. There is also an option, accessed by a button on the wheel, that lets me speak and change the radio or dial numbers on the cell phone, etc but apparently my enunciation leaves something to be desired. I understand it will learn, however, which is pretty cool if it actually does.

      The entertainment system has AM/FM/CD/Satellite and a hard drive. It also doubles as a navi screen so there is some finger work in almost everything I do at this point. None of this would matter, of course, if I wasn’t a big smelly greasy fingered man.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Truecar puts the real world price of the T&C “S” at 28K or so in my area.

    Sometimes when you want to avail yourself of an end-of-the year bargain, you have to get a higher option package than you planned. No big deal if you happen to like them optioned up. Doesn’t seem so bad for a minivan that is a stormer.

    I don’t see why people get so exercised about someone taking out a 3% car loan. That’s a token interest rate that we will probably never see again in our lifetimes. Assuming a modest downpayment, the author gets to transport is family of five in safety, style and comfort for $11 or $12 per day. The van will probably outlive the note by a couple of years.

    P.S. Isn’t is odd and wonderful the way Chrysler blind-sides us with terrific cars from out of nowhere? (Based on Mr. Baruth’s review of the Avenger and this article on the T&C).

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      “The van will probably outlive the note by a couple of years.”

      A couple of years? If my vehicles don’t outlive their notes by at least twofold, then either I’ve made a big mistake…or the manufacturers have!

      :D

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    August 9, 2013

    “I recently had a Chrysler Town & Country on a 1500 mile business trip. I was late to the rent-a-car place and that’s all that was left. I haven’t had a “mini-van” since the early ’90s, but I can’t imagine these vehicles get any better then the T&C. I was thoroughly impressed. If you test drive one, it’ll be interesting to hear what you think”

    :D

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    Good on you Thomas! I can relate to that great new car smell and feel. The satisfaction of knowing that, at least for a few years, you will have no fears regarding unplanned repairs.

    We tend to purchase most of our vehicles with the intent that we will be driving them for a long time-typically 10 plus years. When you factor in the depreciation over that long a period, the ownership costs look much better. Minivans are family vehicles, and in the end, your family deserves the best you can afford.

    Our kids have grown and gone and yet we still have a Sienna in the garage. Due to the spread between our oldest and youngest, the grand kids started coming when the youngest left for college, so my wife refuses to part with the “family” vehicle. Now with 4 grandchildren, just last night 7 of us went for ice cream in one car-nice, especially since the best parlor is about 30 minutes away.

    I enjoy your stories and the fact is that many of us enjoy reading about both the latest performance cars, and yet have a need for vehicles that can carry 7+, get decent mileage, and still provide some grain of driving pleasure.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Nice! Congratulations as well.

    I was not aware of an S variant. I thought Ss only came from Audi.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I really thought they only did color-keyed parking sensors for the past several years now.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure about that. Those were added after the fact by the dealer for free as a part of our negotiation. I like them in black, BTW.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh, well good on you then! I guess I’m against “features” being a different color than the car. I like matching items. Same as when people get the chrome gas door on their Challenger, or F-150.

        Or you know, put Chrysler 200 wheels on their Avenger. Things like that.

        Or put a Lexus hood ornament on their Geo Metro. But that’s an extreme case. :

  • avatar
    ajla

    If I bought any vehicle with black-out trim on it, I’d slap on a EUROSPORT badge.

  • avatar
    ash78

    You need some sort of an edgy tuning club sticker that’s appropriate for a minivan. Just make it up. Like “PRO-kreationz” or “Das Füll Haüs”

    And maybe a license plate that says NORUBR. Because you burn through a lot of tires. Or that’s what you tell the DMV.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    Congrats on the new ride.

    Month and a half ago I rented a Grand Caravan w/ Pentastar, base as base gets, and was extremely impressed. It was the fastest non-special request rental I’ve ever had, and felt much better than it should have through cloverleafs and at speed. Loved the dash-mounted shifter as well, using two fingers to bang out (admittedly slowish, but what do you expect) downshifts into corners. Jack was on the money.

    One thing that I’m curious about though, in the one I drove, the horn had some very strange behavior, wherein a quick polite tap would result in a short delay, then a one or two second blast. Saying hello with a horn beep turned into a pretty abrasive move in that car. Is this the case with your TC as well, or was mine just broken?

  • avatar
    pbxtech

    When we traded our Voyager for a new T&C our auto insurance went down by a lot. That was one of the only pleasant surprises that van provided:(

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Glad you got something you like. Congratulations.

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    Congratulations! On a side note, what kind of twilight zone is this where car folks are trying to convince their non-car partners to buy a minivan instead of a “truck”? Looks like the minivan may be crossing over into wagon territory.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I actually think–especially with 2011 and later examples–that Chrysler Group’s minivans are best at satisfying Anericans’ needs, which is appropriate because Chrysler invented the segment. The Town & Country and Grand Caravan are also the best-looking, in my opinion. And just wait until they get UCONNECT…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I was just staring our the office window with a co-worker and happened to notice a black 200 with tasteful chrome, he didn’t know what it was. I had to explain what it was to him and complemented Chrysler for taking that dog of a Sebring and turning into a car that looked like people wanted to buy it. I went on to explain that while 200 was just a conventional FWD car, Chrysler offers you its RWD bigger brother in base model with adequate power, an up-trim V8 screamer, and an AWD variant if you prefer. I said despite all of the trouble that company has been through they actually squeezed three different vehicle types (FWD, RWD, AWD) out of two models, one model of which is stale as week old bread. I thought holy crap I’d better stop in the ER on the way home because I must be running a fever I’m so delirious to complement Mopar.

    On a side note across from the 200 were parked a late model Camry, a Lex RX330, and an ’09 or ’10 RAV4 and I thought what the hell is the difference between those, why do all three need to exist.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    That’s a lot of content for the price, definitely a good deal. Best of luck, enjoy it!

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Ahaaaa…. I wondered how your “Freestar replacement challenge” would play out. The T&C looks great! Enjoy the new car freshness and the many good miles ahead!

  • avatar
    rolladan

    Congrats on the purchase!! Glad you got the s version! At the end of the day no one “wants” to drive a minivan it’s because you need the utility the van offers. So why not get a sportier trim so you have the features you want and have some style as well? Kudos man I woulda done the same.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I love the black headliner in my Dart. I for one am tired of these light gray or tan headliners that are supposed to make the car feel more “spacious” according to the design types.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    It’s great to see such enthusiasm for a car purchase. I’m usually exhausted by the time of actual purchase and the fun isn’t quite what I imagined. Nice to see someone unabashedly in the honeymooon zone. Enjoy the new car.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I agree also on the whole “thrill of the hunt” aspect of car buying. It is anti-climatic once you sign the papers and bring it home in a way.

    Especially as enthusiasts, it’s all about the comparison, especially the little dumb stuff that only enthusiasts care about. It fulfills the auto journo living in all of us. It’s all about the experience of getting from point A to B while driving, not just the getting from A to B.

    I enjoy the one I have, but I’m always looking for the next one. Cars, that it…

  • avatar
    Aleister Crowley

    Congrats on your new ride, and a great article.

  • avatar
    dmchyla

    Nice work. We bought a 2013 T&C Touring in Billet Silver this past March. Baruth’s article is one of the things that pushed us over the edge, in addition to nearly $5K in incentives before we even started talking about our trade-in, good financing, and way more room than what was in our 2006 Freestyle. We had been thinking about getting back into a minivan for a while, the Freestyle was OK but with 3 kids (1 teenager), it was just getting too small. We took a 5-day trip to Northern WI in it last summer, and we were literally packed like sardines. We went to the local auto show so my wife and I could check out the GC R/T, which she did not like. There was a T&C on the floor, we were impressed with it and then blown away when we found out it was the “base” Touring model, still with 3-zone auto climate control, nice LED and halo lighting inside, decent stereo, leather seats and rear DVD. My wife was instantly sold and the deal was too good to pass up. We have not been on any long trips yet, but have taken a couple of short ones, the van has all-day comfort and is an excellent highway cruiser, with plenty of room for family, dog, and luggage. There is no better value out there in a family vehicle.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Great choice Thomas – I’m sure it will serve you well for many years.

    We had an old Chrysler van years ago, the space utilization and practicality was amazing – it easily swallowed bathtubs, drywall, and whatever else we needed to haul at the time. Plus it was an excellent highway cruiser with very comfy front seats.

    Enjoy your purchase!

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Sounds like Jack’s article saved Chrysler!

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I want to love these vans but I can’t. They are just about the most innovative and comfortable minivan out there. Nobody does minivans like Chysler. But then, you get the double whammy of catastrophic engine failure, and catastrophic transmission failure. At least, this has been the case in the past. With the recent Pentastar assembly screwups, and 62TE’s failing in much the same way as their predecessors (they still have solenoids made like a cheap toy), I’m not going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m seeing the previous generation in the self serve junkyards already, not wrecked or with any obvious issues. They are perceived as disposable cars at least in the eyes of the general public. Down the road, I would get nothing for my trade in or if I tried to sell. With their issues, I sure wouldn’t buy one for “the long haul”. Leasing is probably their forte.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    4 Fridges for your choice.

    Would’ve been 5 if you’d gotten the GC AVP.

    And not forced us to keep looking at a dead guy’s armpit.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    There’s nothing more true than the first sentence of the article!

    Congrats on the new ride!

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    Thomas love your writing, and this one in particular because you and I were in a similar situation and ended up with virtually the same vehicle.

    Earlier this year when our second child was born we decided my wife’s Mercury Mariner was going to be too small for our needs (we loved it but it was a small suv). We had two candidates to replace it. Ford Flex and the T&C. I typically never buy new vehicles – I used to work in the car biz and know the deal with that. We also like to have all the goodies on our cars so I quickly determined that the Flex was going to be too pricey for us/ or have too many miles that we were willing to accept (20K).

    Search began. Found our exact car and passed over it initially (actually several times) because it had 36k. Shame though I thought, because it had everything we wanted. Long story short, I checked it out further and it was listed wrong. It actually had 18K but it was priced to reflect 36k. I brought this up 3 times to the dealer feeling I needed to be honest. They didn’t seem to care, and I knew what it was worth. Shocking because this difference amounted to about $5,000. So, in my head I knew, “we are getting this van, no matter what”.

    Its a 2011 Touring-L that was basically optioned up to a Limited spec save for the super center console (like yours) and a sunroof. It has EVERYTHING else. Nav, heated seats, heated steering wheel, limited wheels, dvds, power doors/tailgate, parking control, blind spot, power 3rd row, window shades…. its goes on and on. I have the original sticker and it was almost 41K. It wasn’t a rental. We paid $21,500 with only 18K on it and not even 2 years old. Its my wife’s car, but like you I drive it a fair amount. She calls it her spaceship because of all the options. It really makes life easier with two kids under 3.

    We are very happy with it. But I am really happy with it. For all the reasons you state (equipment, design, ride, handling) as well as those Jack mentioned in his review at the redesign in 2011 (also agree his review was spot on). Plus the fact I got it for an insane price. And it looks classy. The Sienna and Odyssey are too expensive, not very nice looking and don’t offer as many of the options and goodies. I knew if we were going for a minivan and we wanted it loaded we were pretty much getting a T&C. I just didn’t know we would do as well and be so happy with it. It really was a great choice.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Congrats on the new wheels! I liked the power/handling of the Chrysler vans we rented a couple of years ago, although the front seats weren’t quite the right shape for my back.

    As to the huge console: I guess walk-through between the front seats isn’t as popular these days. I can’t recall the last time we lowered our Sienna’s front row ray table.

    • 0 avatar

      My MPV had a flat, foldable table that I really liked and we did use it on occasion. I’m waiting for the time that one of my kids decides to march from the back to the front and puts their foot through those pretty rolling doors on the console.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    If I had to drive a mini van, this would be the one. No contest.

    The only thing I truly hate about it is that godawful shifter on the dash. Yuck.

    What I’m really wanting to see is someone dropping one of these FWD Pentastar drivetrains into a sand rail.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    So, whose head did you have to cut off to convince the dealer to stack the rebates?

  • avatar
    RS

    I’m currently driving a 02 Chevy Venture with 148K on it. Other than the rusty rockers, it’s been a decent vehicle and has been reliable, but the Stow-n-go and 3.6l Pentstar has me shopping for deals on an ’11+ Dodge or Chrysler minivan. My neighbor who has a 02 Honda Odyssey is shopping for one too.

    They rented a 11 Caravan a few months ago to road trip to Montana for a wedding. MPG’s were impressive – 28-29 on the Hwy loaded with 5 people and all their stuff. Their Honda gets about 24-26 on the Hwy. Our Venture gets about 26 on the Hwy and averages 20 around town.

    I managed a half day test drive in the Caravan before they returned it and was very impressed. If anyone that tells you they aren’t nice, they certainly haven’t experience one.

    Ironically, they didn’t get take the Honda on that trip because it was in the shop getting it’s second tranny at 173K miles. It’s been more problematic than the Venture. He’s done dumping money into it. The Venture has more rust due to the poor rocker design, but it has had less repairs and far less expensive repairs than their Odyssey. The Venture has had little stuff break, the Odyssey has big stuff break…and a timing belt to replace.

    We are both hoping the reliability of the Chrysler/Fiat Van will be better than both. Other than the valve issue some early ’12′s had, we haven’t seen many repairs reported.

  • avatar
    LastCar

    Congrats on the van! This looks great and the option/value is a lot better than the competition. I have an older Odyssey and it has served the family very well. When it is time to replace it(hopefully not any time soon), I will definition look into T&C.

  • avatar
    Nurburgringer

    Congrats my T&C brother!!!

    2 months ago I traded in my 6-sp 2012 Mazda 5 (first new car) on a 2011 T&C “Touring-L” when I learned my wife and I (and two dogs) would be relocated to Houston TX (i.e. the 10th cicle of driving Hell) for my job. Always like the latest gen GC/T&C, and while we wouldn’t make use of the full cargo capacity all that often that was my excuse to get one.
    Criteria were brown interior (black would be too hot in TX, and the off-white too easily stained. Learned that approx. 95% of all GC/T&Cs have either black or white interiors…), white or silver ext (again, TX), 2011-2013 model for engine and better interior.
    After quite a bit of visiting various dealers within 150 miles of Milwaukee and driving a number of 2011 or 2012 models w/ 30k miles that “oh yeah, this was a rental from FL or KY……” found a 2011 “Touring-L” with 11k miles for $24k. Only option lacking from my wish list is hands-free phone, because the 75yr old previous owner evidently didn’t have a cell phone…. And of course memory seats which probably costs Chrysler $50 in parts but they cruelly withhold for the top-dog Limited model. Mine does have Nav, Sat rad, 340N 20gig HD head unit, back up cam, power doors and seats etc.
    Could have gone with a new one for probably only 5k more but this dealer gave me $14k on my Mazda trade-in, over $1000k more than the other nearest offer.
    The two-day, 1200 mile drive from Milwaukee to Houston went very smoothly and so far it’s been WAY quieter, smoother and more comfy than the Mazda5 would have been in Houston. Looking forward to camping out in it for the US GP in Austin come November!
    Mine handles better than the 2010 I once rented, but is still pretty wallowy so may investigate suspension differences in the 2013 ‘S’ model. If it’s only bigger sway bars I may have to upgrade.
    One interesting thing, is that in Houston a T&C is virtually an exotic. They’re everywhere in Milwaukee but here new Camaros probably outsell all Minivans combined.
    Now I just need to find a “Texas” or “King Ranch Edition” badge to stick on the back :)
    Best of luck with yours!!!

    [URL=http://s180.photobucket.com/user/kedelbach/media/CTandC_zps9093a5ff.jpg.html][IMG]http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x155/kedelbach/CTandC_zps9093a5ff.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    • 0 avatar
      beanbear

      Nice CRX and 308 in the garage!

      • 0 avatar
        Nurburgringer

        Thanks! Sold the 308 last month in Milwaukee since there’s no AC, there is a manual trans and it would be torture to subject the car and driver to Houston.
        The CRX, however, isn’t worth nearly enough to pry it away from me so that came along. Matching color scheme as the Town&Country makes for a funky pair. Like a car and the box it came in :)

  • avatar
    beanbear

    We just bought this exact one last night, after testing the Odyssey and Quest (no Sienna because we can’t stand the center stack/cockpit). Comparably equipped, the latter 2 were about $7-8K more.

    Cost as no object, it could have been a toss-up with the Odyssey. It felt like a 3-row Accord, but the driver ergonomics were too “Honda” (good overall layout, but when in doubt, they added 10 arbitrary buttons per function), the “lightning bolt” profile is awful, and it drives rubbery like a current-gen Sonata but with the Honda road noise. The Quest was a polished limo, but overlooked obvious details… the 2nd row’s seat belt receivers are in small wells that will overflow with crushed Cheerios and raisins; LATCH hooks are partially obstructed by fabric overlap; the up-level side skirts bang against the curbs; etc.

    The T&C S isn’t perfect. The post-’11 interior upgrades really are stunning, but some fit & finish is still pretty Chrysler… a few buttons and controls feel hollow and cheap; a ceiling bin is slightly misaligned; a couple dials (lights, IP panel illumination) feel vague; etc. These are minor, but there’s a noticeable difference between it, and our ’07 Element and our ’02 Sportcross, and even my sister-in-law’s ’08 Sedona.

    But that said, the big things feel well-executed – the seats are great and firm – more like modernist furniture than Lazy Boy; Stow N Go is terrific; the TTAC-noted driving dynamics and front cabin setup (with the “super console”) make it feel like a premium sedan; it’s quiet and feels solid.

    We paid in the high $28k’s, and it has a ridiculous amount of content for the price. It’s so much content that I might buy the 10yr/100k mi bumper-to-bumper warranty for $1300-ish. I’d be shocked if the power lift gate and both doors make it that long, much less the backup camera, the nav’s HDD, or any of the entertainment system gizmos.
    On a side note, our dealer was open late wrapping up their “must take delivery by” deals yesterday. The finance/paperwork guy complained that they were going to be there until midnight. I said “it’s good, right? Moving a lot of cars?” He shook his head and said in a beleaguered, not sales-y, way, “it’d be nice if we made money on 1 of them.”

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      >>The finance/paperwork guy complained that they were going to be there until midnight. I said “it’s good, right? Moving a lot of cars?” He shook his head and said in a beleaguered, not sales-y, way, “it’d be nice if we made money on 1 of them.”

      This is always a dissappointment to hear and is a major stumbling block at many dealers. No dealer employee should be exhibiting this kind of attitude with a customer. It is thinly veiled contempt to do so. The dealer is making money off these sales, they aren’t going out of business if they’re moving cars.

      Whether they take less margin on each one to get the big volume bonus, through any added extras or holdback, they are making money. Perhaps if the F&I guy was a little more customer focused, he could make a better commission by selling you that service contract right then and there. If not you, maybe someone else.

    • 0 avatar

      Congratulations. Ours has about 600 miles on it but has been back to the dealer a couple of times for some add ons and a rust proofing treatment the dealer threw in after the fact because they were having some trouble sorting out the back up sensors we asked to be added.

      I am still really enthused about our purchase and, having had the opportunity to drive a couple of Caravans and another T&C as loaners, I’m extra glad we stepped up to the S model. I’m still not crazy about the balsitic cloth seat inserts, but I do like them better than the vinyl inserts on other vans so I can live with them.

      Now you need to tell Chrysler that TTAC’s articles helped you decide to shop their vehicles. It’d be nice if this author could get a test ride or something out of the deal.

      • 0 avatar
        beanbear

        >> Now you need to tell Chrysler that TTAC’s articles helped you decide to shop their vehicles. It’d be nice if this author could get a test ride or something out of the deal.

        Will do. FWIW, TTAC moved the T&C up the priority list and – in particular – was a very good counterweight to other reviews that, well, just seemed blatantly biased re: the Odyssienna. We’d rented a 2011 GC in FL a couple years ago, and I was impressed. Had my eye on a T&C S once they were announced because it seemed like the right combo for us: the add’l T&C sound insulation, GC R/T-esque suspension, the nav/window shade bundle, less chrome throughout.

        Re: the nylon seat inserts, I had them in a ’99 G20t. They wore extremely well, stayed cooler in summer/warmer in winter, didn’t feel “furry” like most conventional auto cloth. Although I did find you needed to use more common sense re: potential tearing (e.g. – our dog’s nails). Seems harder to seamlessly repair a nylon tear.

        >>Perhaps if the F&I guy was a little more customer focused, he could make a better commission by selling you that service contract right then and there. If not you, maybe someone else.

        What’s everyone’s instinct on the service contract? My gut tells me something electrical & >$1K is bound to fail sometime after year 3. Not a dig on Chrysler per se, though my True Delta skimming indicates something like a power lift gate is more likely to fail in – say, year 5 – than in an Odyssienna.


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  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India