Chrysler revolutionized the passenger van market in 1984 by introducing the minivan, and it is still remains deeply rooted in this family-friendly segment as evident by the innovative and luxurious 2011 Chrysler Town & Country Limited. As Chrysler approaches 30 years of its ground-breaking minivan, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country should continue to be a top-selling minivan thanks to improvements that include a luxurious new interior and a refined powertrain. We recently had the chance to spend a week in a Candy Apple Red Town & Country for this road test and review, and it is easy to see that although sales (and competitors) in the minivan market have dwindled in recent years, Chrysler has no intentions of loosening its grip on this iconic segment.
2011 Chrysler Town and Country Road Test and Review
2011 Chrysler Town and Country Road Test and Review
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Pricing and Trim Levels
Assembled in Windsor, Ontario, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country is available in three trim levels – Touring, Touring-L and Limited – with a starting MSRP of $30,260. The top-of-the-line Town & Country Limited used for this review adds plenty of luxury and tech features as well as a higher starting price of $39,160. After a handful of optional features and the required destination charge, this 2011 Town & Country Limited had an as-tested price of $41,380. Surprisingly, optioning up to a $40,000 minivan isn’t that hard any more, and the new Chrysler Town & Country now delivers a more upscale interior to match this upscale price point.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country Review: Competition
Not including minivan-like crossovers such as the Ford Flex and Chevrolet Traverse, the minivan segment is surprisingly competitive with the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country going up against rivals like the Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna, Volkswagen Routan and Kia Sedona. A sales decline of 22 percent so far this year has put the Town & Country behind the Sienna and Odyssey, but with 8,801 vans sold in August 2011, it was second in sales only to the Dodge Grand Caravan which remains the best-selling minivan on the market. More impressive for the Chrysler duo is the fact that the key competitors in this class (Sienna, Odyssey and Quest) are all new for 2011 while the Town & Country and Grand Caravan are essentially updates of the fifth-generation vans that were introduced for the 2008 model year.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Exterior
Even though this design update was obviously focused on improving the interior and powertrain, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country gets some noticeable styling tweaks that not only gives it more of an elegant appearance to match the brand’s luxury image, but it also help give more of a visual distinction between it and the closely related Dodge Grand Caravan. Up front, the Town & Country keeps the scalloped headlights but gets a better sculpted hood, a new front fascia with revised lower air dams and a more contemporary grille while the rear of the van received new LED taillights, fascia and liftgate design that all add a cleaner, more upscale look.
Of all the changes made for Chrysler during the 2011 model year, the new logo is one of the most overlooked, but the new winged badge is more prominently displayed on the updated minivan on the front grille and above the full-width chrome strip that runs across the liftgate. Offsetting all of the Town & Country’s chrome trim (including the bright 17-inch, multi-spoke wheels), this test vehicle came in Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat exterior paint which added $295 to the as-tested price. Overall, this mid-cycle styling change does manage to give the Town & Country a fresh enough look to stay relevant in a minivan segment that saw three of its competitors receive all-new designs for 2011.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Interior
During DailmlerChrysler’s cost-cutting era, interiors were some of the biggest issues among Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep designs, but like many 2011 Chrysler Group vehicles, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country was improved upon in just about every imaginable area ranging from the overall design and layout down to minute details such as the cabin materials and fit and finish. Upon first entering the Town & Country, the new instrument panel now has a better flow with the bulky center stack being replaced by a more stylish center stack and a more practical center console. The old van featured a removable, three-tier sliding center console, but the new Town & Country Limited now has a fixed “Super Console” with concealable cubby holes and a pull-out storage drawer. A new four-spoke steering wheel and two-gauge instrument cluster finish off the major styling changes, while the rest of the cabin is finished with soft materials on practically every touch point.
The Town & Country Limited comes standard with the added luxury of a leather interior with Nappa and suede accents, a heated leather steering wheel, remote start and side window shades for the second- and third-row seats. Chrysler also equips the Limited with an easy-to-use Garmin-based navigation that includes 30 gigabytes of memory dedicated to music storage and Gracenote music identification, an upgraded 506-watt, nine-speaker Infinity audio system and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system that includes Sirius Backset TV. Other useful features on the Town & Country Limited include standard dual power sliding side doors and a power rear liftgate. All 2011 Town & Country models get the SafetyTec Group as standard equipment which includes a backup camera, rear park assist system, Blind-spot monitoring system including Rear Cross Path detection and rain-sensitive windshield wipers.
One of the most unique features of the Town & Country is Chrysler’s innovative Stow ‘n Go seat system which allows the center-row captain’s chairs to fold into the floorboards. Stowing these seats is pretty easy, but it does require some adjustment of the front seats in order to open the compartment lids all the way. For 2011, Chrysler has dramatically improved the comfort of these stowable seats. With all of the seats up, there is considerable storage capacity in the floorboards, center console and the dual glove boxes, but with the seats all folded flat and removed the Town & Country can swallow up to 143.8 cubic feet of cargo.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Interior Packages and Options
In addition to all of the standard features of a 2011 Chrysler Town & Country Limited, our test vehicle also added the $595 power-folding third-row seat and the $995 power sunroof. Like the Stow ‘n Go second-row seats, the third row quickly disappears into the floor by folding, stowing or tumbling at the push of a button. One of the features not equipped on this test vehicle is an upgraded navigation system with integrated voice commands.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Powertrain and Fuel Economy
Last year, the Chrysler Town & Country was available with three engine options, but the 2011 model comes only with one: the all-new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. Available in a growing number of Chrysler Group vehicles ranging from the Jeep Grand Cherokee to the Dodge Avenger, this new engine delivers better refinement, power and fuel economy than recent Chrysler V-6s. In the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country, the Pentastar V-6 is tuned to produce a best-in-class 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, and Chrysler has also narrowed down the transmission options as well by carrying over just the six-speed automatic for 2011.
Despite its increased output, the new Town & Country still gets good EPA fuel economy with estimates of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. These figures are better than most of the figures for the 2010 van and even better than some of the Chrysler SUVs that use this same engine thanks in large part to the “Econ” mode that keeps revs lowers and numbs the throttle response a little to help squeeze out every last mpg, but it can also be turned off using a button on the center stack.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Driving Impressions
While the updated 2011 Chrysler Town & Country feels less refined than the all-new Honda, Nissan and Toyota rivals, Chrysler has once again managed to improve all of the previous shortcomings of the previous model which should be good enough to buy the company enough time until a full redesign takes place. In terms of an overall ride, most drivers will note the Town & Country’s smoother, more comfortable ride – a result of the heavily updated suspension system – but it is the quiet interior that was the most impressive on the road. Chrysler is definitely paying close attention to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels as evident by how little wind noise makes it into the cabin. As for the new engine, the V-6 manages to get the 4,652-pound Town & Country up to speed pretty fast especially when compared to the old 3.8-liter engine used in previous years.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Safety
The updated 2011 Chrysler Town & Country has yet to be crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given it “Good” ratings for frontal-, side- and rear-impact protection although the new roof-strength tests hasn’t been performed on the van. Standard safety features for all 2011 Town & Country models include six airbags, active front head restraints, electronic brake-force distribution with brake assist, four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, tire pressure monitoring system, traction control and stability control.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Final Thoughts
With a fresh new look and plenty of changes for 2011, the Chrysler Town & Country is still the quintessential family vehicle with three rows of seating and plenty of space for storage. Like other Chrysler Group products (such as the Chrysler 200), one of the most impressive aspects of the 2011 Town & Country is how many improvements were made in such a short time. With the 30th anniversary of the Chrysler minivan just a couple years away, the improvements made on this 2011 Town & Country should be a promising sign for how advanced and refined the next-generation Chrysler minivans will be. For now though, the true success of a minivan isn’t measured in horsepower, styling or fuel economy but rather how busy/quiet it can keep the kids on long road trips, and the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country performs this task to perfection.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country: Pros and Cons
- excellent cabin materials and design
- new engine is more powerful and refined
- plenty of cargo and storage space
- exterior styling not as edgy as the competition
- no all-wheel drive option
Chrysler provided the vehicle for this review
Photos by Jeffrey N. Ross