There is a reason that Chrysler celebrated the 30th anniversary of the minivan with the introduction of the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary Edition. In just a few words – because the segment icon continues to sell well as it has successfully continued to morph itself to meet family needs over three decades.
The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country, in the face of rhetoric that the minivan vehicle segment is dying a slow death, challenges naysayers to drive today’s newer and better minivan and then reconsider their thinking.
We too, having not driven a minivan to any extent in the last couple of years, would have generally agreed with the opinion that the minivan was dead and just looking for a place to die.
That is – until we drove the new 2014 Chrysler Town & Country.
Now we understand why so many minivan owners have told us repeatedly that, when you need a minivan, a full-size crossover or SUV will just not do.
The minivan in 2014 is not your parents (or grandparents) people hauler of old. It is no longer a big-cabin ‘boat’ that hauls people only. It is now a fully integrated vehicle well suited for all of a family’s daily needs and recreation adventures.
Besides being a significantly solid driving experience that is as good as any crossover SUV, two areas in particular stand out – its three-row people hauler versatility and low cost.
The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary Edition – with its unique versatility features, solid ride and performance, abundant family focused amenities and well-priced at $37,885 delivered – confirmed that for us recently in a two-week ‘real world’ ride and drive mini-vacation as we hauled four adults and 3 children from one adventure to the next.
Our Town & Country (the 30th Anniversary edition based on the Touring-L model) had a base MSRP of $34,165 and, at that price, was pretty well equipped already.
Its excellent road performance begins with the award winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The smooth running V-6 is mated to the 62TE six-speed automatic transmission delivering solid power to the 17-inch polished satin carbon aluminum wheels and tires.
A fuel economizer mode helps the driver maximize fuel efficiency with premium lower-rolling resistance tires and low-drag brake calipers and rear bearings also helping with fuel economy to the point that the Town & Country achieves 17 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city, 25 mpg on the highway.
Some of the significant standard features included Premium Fog Lamps, Stow N Place Roof Rack, Power Multi-Function Foldaway Side Mirrors, Leather-trimmed Power Front Driver and Passenger Bucket Seats with Alcantara Accents, Second Row Captains Stow’n Go leather seating and third-row seats that flip over to become tailgate seating when needed. A Single DVD Entertainment system features a Second-row Overhead 9-inch VGA Video Screen with Wireless Headphones.
Remote Opening Power Sliding Doors with Power Windows on each side allow safe and easy family access wherever the minivan is parked. Second and Third Row Window Shades keep the sun out and the heat off of passengers while the 3-Zone Automatic Climate Control system keeps the cabin comfortable from front to back.
A power lift gate with plenty of height allows easy access to the deep well cargo area behind the third row seating. In our test, we were able to get all of the bags for a family of five for a week into that space easily.
Other standard features included Keyless Entry with Remote Start, Steering Wheel Mounted Controls, Tilt and Telescopic Steering, Dual Glove Boxes, Dual Second-Row In-Floor Storage Boxes.
Some notable safety features included are Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Blind Spot and Rear Cross Path Detection, ParkSense Rear Park Assist, Rain Sensitive Windshield Wipers, Automatic High Beam Headlamps, Tire Pressure Monitoring with Tire Inflator Kit, ParkView Rear Backup Camera (displayed through a 6.5-inch touchscreen), Child Seat Anchor System – LATCH Ready, Multi-stage Front Air Bags, Supplemental Side Curtain Air Bags for rear seating, Supplemental Front Seat Mounted Side Air Bags and a Driver Knee Bag Bolster.
Infotainment in the Town & Country is delivered through the Uconnect 430 CD/DVD/MP3 HDD System with SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth Hands-free functionality.
The Preferred Customer Package (30th Anniversary), costing $1,700, includes the leather upgrades, Polished and Painted Wheels, Premium Front Row Trim Accents, the 30th Anniversary Special Badges inside and out, Bright Side Roof Rails, Black Finish IP Panel Bezel, and the Driver Convenience Group including Heat First and Second Row Seating, Heated Steering Wheel and Power Adjustable Pedals and Power Folding Third Row Seating.
Lastly, the Dual DVD Blu-Ray Entertainment system for $995 adds the Blu-Ray DVD Player and a Third Row 9-inch VGA Video Screen.
The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary Edition was the perfect vehicle for our week long series of mini-vacation adventures in and around Central Texas.
The Chrysler Town & Country – having created the segment in 1983 and sold over 13 million since - continues to be an industry award winner as a consumer minivan favorite.
Recognition recently included its 13th consecutive Polk Loyalty Award for 2014, a Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy for 2014 and a Best Buy accolade from Consumers Digest for the 2014 model.
Though the segment once had 16 offerings at its sales peak (almost 9 percent of the market) – changes in market needs and offerings to meet those needs – has reduced the segment offerings to just four of any consequence: Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna.
Market segment changes have reduced minivan sales to just over 3 percent of the U.S. market, but the top four are selling almost a half-million minivans each year and, in fact, their collective sales have been increasing each year since 2010.
The minivan segment is not dying, it is merely adjusting to the reality of modern family needs and taking an appropriate segment position offering families a new minivan reality that is a cost effective and fully utilitarian alternative to crossover SUV vehicles.
The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country – in its 30th Anniversary Edition – is solid proof of that new and better reality for minivans – and for consumers.