The Truth About Cars » chrysler town and country The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:19:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » chrysler town and country Chrysler Vans Sitting Idle As Oil Boom Robs Rail Capacity Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:17:34 +0000 Back-440x350

Several hundred Chrysler minivans are stuck indefinitely on a piece of prime Detroit real estate, unable to be transported across America. The reason? The fossil fuel boom in Canada and the United States is hogging much of the available rail capacity needed to transport the vans.

Citing a report by the Associated Press, the Windsor Star reports that railway capacity – which is normally transport new vehicles – is being eaten up by deliveries of oil from both the Alberta Oil Sands and the Bakken shale formation in the United States. According to the AP, just 9,500 railway carloads of crude were being transported in 2008, but that number exploded to 434,032 in 2013. In addition, ethanol shipments have exploded nearly fivefold since 2005, with up to 325,000 carloads being shipped last year.

One of the biggest players in energy shipments is CP Rail, a Canadian railway company that is also the major player in the Windsor, Ontario region, where Chrysler’s minivan plant is located. Aside from capacity issues, a CP spokesman told the Star that the extreme weather has created supply chain issues that still linger at CP’s Chicago hub.

A Chrysler spokesman told the Star

“We have experienced delays of delivery of our finished vehicles due to rail car shortages…We are using alternative modes of transport and alternative routes where possible to move around the biggest problem areas.”

Inventories of the two vans have fallen sharply in the last month. As of April 1st, Chrysler had 50 days worth of Town & Country vans, and 37 days worth of Caravans, down from 75 days and 50 days respectively on March 1st.

]]> 111
Next-Gen Chrysler Minivans To Get 9-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:29:11 +0000 2011_Chrysler_Town_&_Country_--_03-24-2011 (2)

Much of the news surrounding the next-generation Chrysler minivans has involved the location of their assembly, with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne looking to secure government funds for the new vans. The latest report from Automotive News manages to dredge up some product details on the vans themselves.

Judging by the AN report, the new minivans will employ Chrysler mainstays like the 9-speed automatic transmission, the UConnect infotainment system and a revised Stow ‘N Go seating system. For the first time in roughly a decade, all-wheel drive will return, presumably the same system shared with the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee.

]]> 47
Chrysler Minivan Replacements Still In Flux: Marchionne Tue, 13 Nov 2012 14:00:28 +0000

The long awaited replacements for the Chrysler minivan twins are still at least 21 months away, according to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Speaking to Automotive News, Marchionne said that if the vehicles currently in consumer products got favorable reactions, then production could begin in as little as 21 months. But as it stands, Chrysler isn’t even sure which of the nameplates will survive as a traditional minivan and which will become a crossover with hinged doors.

Regarding plans for the Chrysler lineup to retain the minivan with Dodge getting a crossover, Marchionne said

“This is how I view it, but forget about my preference. Those are big issues, and we need to find out in the marketplace what works. We are having customer clinics right now.”

We thought the matter had been settled already. Evidently, it hasn’t been.

]]> 44
Piston Slap: Come and Dance with…who??? Tue, 06 Dec 2011 18:51:07 +0000

Chris writes:

Dear Sajeev,

Love the website and love your reading your column. My question is I am looking to get a minivan within the next 6 months to a year. I am only looking to spend around 8 grand on one. I am leaning heavily towards Chrysler’s vans, and found some really great deals on older ones with low miles. But then I read your article about how it’s not always good to go with older, low mile automobiles. So would I be better to get say, a 2002 model Town and Country, with a little over 100 hundred thousand miles? Or should I not even bother with Chrysler at all? I was leaning towards a Windstar as well, but then there’s that whole rear axle breaking thing, and I quite enjoy living. In your personal opinion what is the best minivan for my budget.

Sajeev Answers:

I’m gonna try something different: give reasonably decent advice in the beginning, then let out my crazy.  Because there’s more variety to your minivan choices than what you see: multiple opportunities to dance before dating in the Homecoming Dance of Minivan Life, as it were. So let’s do this thing.

That said, buying a used minivan is a tough nut to crack.  Usually a higher mile vehicle with ample service records is the way to go, but perhaps their Achilles’ heel (transaxles not worthy of such a large machine) will fail much sooner on a high mile rig versus a low mile creampuff.  After all, new tires/belts/hoses/brakes on a 30,000 mile rig is much more palatable than a new gearbox after 110,000 miles. Speaking purely in generalities, ‘natch.

Chrysler’s hit or miss quality control with transmissions is almost legendary.  Rebuilt units are just as troublesome, depending on the Pentastar-savviness of the shop involved. Windstars were recalled for rusty axles, and perhaps the replacements should also be coated in 90-weight gear oil to keep the problem from resurfacing, so to speak.

That said, 90-weight oil does smell like a gigantic ass, so perhaps not. But this isn’t the point.

Look at what’s in your budget, I suspect the recall free (fuel system aside) Ford Freestar is up your alley…they definitely trade under your budget in the auctions, so why not find a desperate seller ready to take a low ball bid? And with the “big block” 4.2L motor, they are rather quick too. I kinda like them, in a bizarre CUV-hating kinda way. Then again, you might find plenty of clean Chrysler vans with ample service paperwork and a clean transmission dipstick. How am I to know what you will find first?

Even though the last gen GM minivans are uglier than sin, they are also a worthy choice. Especially the Buick of Minivans, the Terraza. And maybe you’ll get a sweetheart deal on a Toyota/Honda minivan from a friend who could care less about their price premium on the market. So what’s my advice?

Let the service history, transmission fluid condition, and status of normal wear items (interior, brakes, paint, power-operated gizmos, tires, etc) be your guide.  Or be nuts like me, and hold out until you find a fully loaded Mercury Monterey and tune the hell outta that big block 4.2L for maximum minivan hotrod goodness.

Mercury lives: come and dance with me!

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.



]]> 71
New or Used: His and Hers Rides? Wed, 17 Aug 2011 20:30:03 +0000



Sokhom writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I’m almost done with my tour here in Korea and it’s time to return to “America-land.”  That means it’s car shoppin’ time!  So if you’ll remember, I still have my S2000 that my father-in-law’s taken care of but I don’t want to use it as a DD.  And my wife wants a car of her own as well.  We’re going to Ft. Huachuca, AZ and lots of road trips to TN and other lands are in our future.  I want a spacious (read: wagon and AT) highway cruiser for the wife and something cheap and cheerful (read: MT) that I won’t mind baking in the AZ sun.

So here’s the ROE (rules of engagement):
Wife’s car: $30K-$40K, wagon-y, AT, luxo-ish
My DD: $10K max, MT, beater-ish

Sajeev answers:

The definition of “Cheap + Cheerful” is way too subjective, but my interpretation for a Honda S2000 owner is something pure: crank windows, boring styling, totally forgettable yet fun to thrash because its so slow and nearly impossible to drive fast enough to raise an eyebrow.  So it comes down to availability in your area: Focus sedan, Versa, Elantra, Sentra or any non-Toyonda with its unnecessarily high resale value and brand recognition.  You don’t need a good car for normal people, you just need a good car!

As for the wifey, you gotta do it right and proper.  You can’t be rolling around in your shitbox, hate it, switch to the S2000 and make her jealous!  In the spirit of marital bliss, I’d recommend a TSX sport Wagon, used 3-series or A4 Avant with the mandatory CPO warranty or a handful of crossovers that just have the stuff you don’t find else where: panoramic roofs, amazing ICE, gigantic chrome wheels, nutzo styling, etc.  Then check out a slightly used Lincoln MKX, Infiniti FX, Mercedes ML (CPO only), BMW X5 (CPO only), or maybe a Northstar-powered Cadillac SRX.

Since you are a “regular” I think I know you very well (and your wife too, natch) I’ll demand you buy these two cars:  a shift-it-yourself Versa with no options and an Acura TSX Wagon.

Steve answers:
“Wife’s car: $30K-$40K, wagon-y, AT, luxo-ish”

The Honda Odyssey would be at the very front of that list. If you are going to do very long road trips nothing beats the space and comfort of a minivan. You should also consider a Chrysler Town & Country. They now have excellent handling (see Jack Baruth’s recent review here) and are every bit as luxurious as the Odyssey when fully optioned out.

My DD: $10K max, MT, beater-ish ‘cheap and cheerful’

I would test drive a long list of Honda, Subaru,  Mitsubishi, Ford (the rare 1st gen Fusion comes to mind), Scion Xb, and any other model with a manual transmission that strikes your fancy. I like the Xb if you are going to do a lot of in-town driving. Highway driving would encourage a midsized sedan like the Fusion with a 4-banger.

Good luck!

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

]]> 31