2009 Town & Country New Car Test Drive
Chrysler redesigned the Town & Country minivan for 2008 and adds new safety technologies for 2009. In addition, the popular Stow 'n Go seating arrangement, which has second-row seats that fold into the floor, becomes standard on the base model.
The Town & Country also offers Swivel 'n Go, which includes second-row seats that rotate 180 degrees to face a removable table that stores in the floor. With these seating arrangements, Chrysler bills the Town & Country as the ultimate family friendly vehicle, and we agree.
The 2009 Chrysler Town & Country is offered with three V6 engines. The base engine, a 3.3-liter V6, lacks power and isn't very fuel efficient. The 3.8-liter V6 is adequate for around-town duty, but the best choice is the available 4.0-liter V6. This engine is more competitive with the V6 offerings from other manufacturers, and it moves the T&C nicely.
On the road, the 2009 Chrysler Town & Country offers a smooth ride and an SUV-like view of the road. The Town & Country is a big vehicle, however, and it is not nimble. It is prone to body lean in turns and the ride can feel floaty at highway speeds. The Honda Odyssey and Nissan Quest are more car-like and sportier.
On the other hand, the Town & Country's entertainment and seating options are the best in the class, matched only by the Dodge Grand Caravan. The standard Stow 'n Go seating tucks the second-row seats nicely into the floor, and when those seats are up, the floor bins offer storage space. The rear seats fold into the floor on all models, allowing a perfectly flat, voluminous rear storage area that can accommodate items such as couches, 4x8-foot sheets of plywood, and most any other item you might need to transport. In addition, there is a handy well behind the third row that offers lots of storage space even with the seats up.
The Swivel 'n Go option is great for family trips. The second row turns to face the third row with a table in between. It helps keep the kids entertained with games of checkers, a place to draw, or any number of other possibilities. And if that's not enough, the Town & Country offers single and dual screen rear DVD entertainment systems, plus Sirius Backseat TV with three kid-friendly channels. The dual screens allow different viewing options for kids that can't agree on what to watch. And for the adults up front, Chrysler's UConnect hard-drive radio stores hundreds of songs.
In addition to the new safety options, Chrysler has updated the brake system for 2009 to reduce noise, vibration and harshness. New SmartBeam headlights that dim automatically are available, and Chrysler has added more equipment to the base model. The equipment shuffling has increased the base price considerably (almost $4000), so the Town & Country is no longer an inexpensive choice.
Overall, however, the 2009 Town & Country does what a minivan should. It is a great vehicle for families that need to haul kids and cargo on a regular basis. And the seating and entertainment options will prevent a lot of the fights that inevitably accompany road trips. Pricing can exceed $40,000 with all the options, so carefully consider which you'll need and use before you buy.
The 2009 Chrysler Town & Country is available in three models, base LX, well-equipped Touring and top-of-the-line Limited. The LX model comes with a 175-hp 3.3-liter V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The Touring model has a 197-hp 3.8-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. The Limited upgrades to a 251-hp 4.0-liter V6 with the six-speed automatic. All have front-wheel drive.
The LX ($26,430) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning with three-zone manual control, tilt steering wheel, front center console, stowable second-row bench seat, stowable third-row split folding bench seat, power first- and second-row windows, power third-row vent windows, power door locks, power exterior mirrors, remote keyless entry, four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, trip computer, conversation mirror, outside temperature display, and P225/65R16 tires on steel wheels with wheel covers.
The Touring model ($29,395) adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, two additional speakers, Sirius satellite radio, eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, power adjustable pedals, overhead storage bins, 115-volt power outlet, heated exterior mirrors, power sliding rear doors, power rear liftgate, universal garage door opener, automatic headlights, fog lights, roof rack, and aluminum wheels.
The Limited model ($36,530) gets tri-zone automatic climate control with rear controls; interior air filter; leather upholstery; eight-way power passenger seat; heated first- and second-row seats; memory for the driver seat, mirrors, and pedals; 506-watt audio system with 10 speakers; Chrysler's UConnect Tunes 30-gigabyte hard-drive radio; removable, sliding front console; rear park assist; remote engine starting; auto-dimming driver's side and rearview mirrors; second- and third-row sunshades; mirror-mounted turn signals; rain-sensing wipers; rearview camera; xenon SmartBeam self-dimming headlights; and P225/65R17 tires on chromed aluminum wheels.
Options start with Chrysler's Flexible Seating (Swivel 'n Go) group ($495), which includes second-row bucket seats that swivel and a removable table that can be installed between the second and third seating rows. Also offered are Chrysler's UConnect Multimedia Suite ($1,300) with a rearview camera, Chrysler's UConnect Phone hands-free cell phone link and Chysler's UConnect GPS, which adds a navigation system with real-time traffic and voice activation to the UConnect Tunes 30-gigabyte hard-drive radio. Three rear DVD entertainment systems are offered. The LX model is available with Entertainment Group 1 ($2,120), which has a single rear DVD screen, and also comes with Sirius satellite radio, a rearview camera, and a 115-volt power outlet. Entertainment Group 2 ($2,200) for the Touring model has two 9-inch rear video screens, UConnect Tunes hard-drive radio and a rearview camera. Entertainment Group 3 ($2,020) for the Limited model has two rear video screens with two DVD players, plus Sirius Backseat TV. A Trailer Tow Group ($600) includes heavy-duty engine cooling, trailer wiring harness, and load-leveling rear air suspension. Stand-alone options include two integrated child seats ($225) for the second row, a sunroof ($895), a power-folding third-row seat ($595), and Sirius Backseat TV ($495). Several of the higher line standard features are also available for the lower line models.
New for 2009 are Chrysler's Rear Cross Path and Blind Spot Alert systems. Both are offered, along with UConnect Phone, in a Safety Group for the Limited ($825). They are also included in the Touring's Security Group ($1445), which also includes UConnect Phone, auto-dimming driver's side and rearview mirrors, mirror-mounted turn signals, rear park assist, and an alarm.
Standard safety equipment for all models includes dual-stage front airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, ABS with brake assist, traction control, tire-pressure monitor, traction control, and electronic stability control.