2011 Chrysler Town & Country Review and Prices
Past and Future Reviews
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country is the best minivan for you if you want to the experience the original luxury minivan rejuvenated.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country is extensively updated with revised styling, a revamped cockpit, and the most powerful V-6 in the minivan class. The changes aim to keep the 2011 Town & Country competitive with the fully redesigned 2011 Honda Odyssey and 2011 Toyota Sienna. The 2011 Town & Country remains the upscale version of the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan, which is similarly updated. They share powertrains and seven-seat interior layouts -- and both lose the option of Chrysler’s Swivel ’n Go table-and-chairs arrangement. Town & Country is more expensive than comparable versions the Grand Caravan, making the Chrysler the smarter choice mostly if you’re brand-conscious. Both are family rooms on wheels, just in different neighborhoods.
Should you buy the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country or wait for the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country? Buy the 2011 Town & Country. The 2012 Town & Country may add a feature or two but the big changes have already been made for model-year 2011, and few major alterations are expected until the next all-new generation arrives around 2013.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country Changes back to top
Styling: The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country’s styling changes are far from major but they do give this large, rectangular minivan a fresher overall appearance. The nose gains a cleaner, dressier look with a new chrome-rimmed grille and chromed-trimmed fascia. The rump is smoothed and wears new taillights and a horizontal chrome strip embossed with “Town & Country” and the latest version of the Chrysler crest. A chrome appliqué now runs along the body side and has “Chrysler” stamped on it. And there are new wheel designs.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country is still quite recognizable as the same basic minivan that was last fully redesigned in model-year 2008. It may not have the swept-back lines of the latest Sienna or Odyssey, but the slab-sided, square-edged body maximizes interior space. There are sliding side doors on both sides and a rear liftgate; power operation for all is available and the sliding doors have roll-down windows.
The 2011 Town & Country’s bigger changes are inside, with major updates in both design and execution. It starts with handsome, easy-to-read new gauges and continues with a recast dashboard that makes tasteful use of brushed-metal-look trim. The instrument panel’s central “stack” of audio, climate, navigation, and ancillary controls looks less clumsy and more integrated. A new steering wheel deftly incorporates buttons for audio, cruise control, Bluetooth mobile phone interface, and other functions. To its immediate right the gear-shift lever again sprouts from the upper section of the dashboard.
Softer surfaces and higher-quality materials are used on the dash and throughout the cabin and upgraded cloth and leather upholstery is employed for added style and comfort. Indeed, Chrysler Group vehicles -- Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep – are in the process of shedding interiors of uninspired design and low-grade materials. Chrysler Group’s corporate bosses at Italy’s Fiat seem to be taking a page from General Motors’ recent playbook and have concluded one effective way to revamp a lackluster lineup is to improve the part of the car with which the owner interacts most.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country returns a three-model lineup. The base model is now labeled the 2011 Town & Country Touring; it replaces the 2010 LX. The midlevel model is renamed the 2011 Town & Country Touring L and replaces last year’s midlevel model, which was simply the Touring. The top-of-the-line version remains the 2011 Town & Country Limited.
Mechanical: The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country consolidates a three-engine lineup to a single V-6 -- and should be the better for it. The 2011 Town & Country’s only engine is Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V-6, so named for the company’s five-corner logo. With its application extended to 13 separate cars and trucks, this technologically up-to-date engine will do much of the heavy lifting among Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models in the coming years.
In the 2011 Town & Country, the Pentastar V-6 generates 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, which makes it stronger than all three V-6s it replaces: a 3.3-liter (197 horsepower, 230 pound-feet of torque), a 3.8-liter (175 horses, 205 pound-feet), and a 4.0-liter (251 horsepower, 259 pound-feet). Chrysler says the Pentastar represents important advances in smoothness and fuel-efficiency and is being introduced in conjunction with other upgrades designed to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness for a more relaxed overall driving experience.
The 2011 Town & Country’s sole transmission is a six-speed automatic that provides a separate shift gate for manual-type gear control. (The previous model’s 3.8- and 4.0-liter V-6s used this same basic transmission, while the 3.3-liter made due with a four-speed automatic).
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country continues in a front-wheel drive layout. Front-wheel drive locates the engine and transaxle in the nose of the vehicle. This benefits packaging efficiency and helps wet-weather traction by placing the powertrain’s weight over the wheels that also propel the vehicle. (The 2011 Toyota Sienna remains the only minivan available with all-wheel drive for added slippery-pavement grip).
Again standard on the 2011 Town & Country are four-wheel disc brakes with antilock technology for better control in emergency stops, and an antiskid stability system to reduce chances of sideways skids in sudden handling maneuvers.
Features: Every 2011 Town & Country will again come with seven-passenger seating. (Odyssey and Sienna hold eight passengers by wedging a reduced-sized position between their second-row bucket seats.) Town & Country’s front seats are buckets and the third row is a split bench that folds into a rear floor tub; power-folding control for the third row is available.
Buyers of the 2011 Town & Country (and 2011 Grand Caravan) will no longer have a choice of two second-row seating types. The only available setup is now the company’s Stow ’n Go system. This consists of two forward-facing buckets that can be folded neatly into compartments in the floor. That eliminates the need to remove them to maximize cargo space and makes possible a flat, uninterrupted load surface when the rear bench also is folded. With the Stow ’n Go second row seats in their upright position, the floor compartments become roomy, covered storage bins.
Killed for model-year 2011 due to low demand is the alternative Swivel ’n Go seating. This had been a Town & Country and Grand Caravan exclusive in the minivan field and allowed the second-row buckets to be turned 180 degrees to face third-row passengers. A removable table could be set up between them as a dining or game surface. Nonetheless, the 2011 Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan are again the only minivans with second row seats that fold into the floor or swivel.
To collapse -- and with Swivel ’n Go, to rotate -- these buckets had to be thinner than the second-row seats in rivals. That gained them a reputation for subpar comfort. However, Chrysler says the second-row seats in its 2011 minivans are more heavily padded for greater comfort. And they’ve gained a one-touch tip-and-slide release for easier access into the third row.
The minivan segment is defined in large measure by its family-friendly features, and the 2011 Town & Country remains at the forefront of applied gadgetry. Standard or optional, depending on model: separate climate control for each seating row; dual-screen DVD video, which now can display input from separate sources; a choice of two subscription-based satellite TV systems; a mobile Internet Wi-Fi hot spot; USB iPod and Bluetooth phone linking; and a voice-activate navigation system.
The 2011 Town & Country also features a blind-spot sensing system to warn of unseen vehicles in adjacent lanes and cross-path detection of vehicles approaching from the sides in parking lots. And it comes with front-side airbags and side-curtain airbags that protect all three rows of outboard passengers from head injury in side-impact collisions.
Among 2011 features Chrysler claims as minivan firsts are an available heated steering wheel and a roof-rack whose horizontal bows store in the side rails when not in use. The latter is an aerodynamic advantage Chrysler dubs the Stow ’n Place roof rack system.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country is $30,995-$39,495. That doesn’t count options but, like all base prices sited in this review, does include the manufacturer’s destination fee. Chrysler’s fee for the 2011 Town & Country is $835.
The base-price range for the 2010 Town & Country was $25,995-$35,880, including an $820 destination charge. The increase in 2011 Town & Country prices seems to reflect Fiat’s goal of taking the Chrysler brand deeper into premium-class territory. Indeed, the gap in base prices between Town & Country and Grand Caravan is widening. The average base price of a 2010 Town & Country was $30,373, a $4,600 difference over the average base price of the 2010 Grand Caravan. The average base price of a 2011 Town & Country is $34,496, a $6,300 bulge over the average of the 2011 Grand Caravan. Chrysler justifies the higher Town & Country prices with more generous levels of standard equipment compared to Grand Caravan models. But its goal of projecting Town & Country as the clearer upscale choice is evident.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country Touring model starts at $30,995. Like all 2011 Town & Country models, the Touring comes standard with power sliding side doors and a power liftgate, fog lamps, power folding heated mirrors, and power windows (including power rear vent windows). The blind-spot and rear cross path detection systems also are standard, as is a rear backup camera, cruise control, sunscreen glass, and rain sensing wipers. Included as well is three-zone automatic climate control, a dashboard vehicle information display, an eight-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, Sirius satellite radio, overhead storage compartments, two 12-volt power outlets, and a 115-volt household-type outlet. The Touring has a six-speaker audio system with a 6.5-inch dashboard touchscreen and 30 gigabytes of hard-drive music storage. It has cloth upholstery and rides on 16-inch aluminum wheels.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country Touring L has a base price of $32,995. It’s Town & Country’s midline model but is equipped roughly equivalent to the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan’s top-of-the-line Crew version. The 2011 Town & Country Touring L adds to the Touring model heated front seats, second- and third-row window shades, remote engine start via the keyfob, an eight-way power passenger seat with two-way power lumbar, and chrome mirrors with turn-signal indicators. The Touring L has perforated leather upholstery and rides on 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The optional DVD entertainment system for the Touring model includes a 9-inch screen above the second seating row; the same option on the Touring L model adds an additional 9 inch screen over the third seating row.
The dual-screen DVD setup is among the standard features that distinguish the top-of-the-line 2011 Chrysler Town & Country Limited. The Limited’s base price is $39,495 and like the sporty R/T version of the 2011 Grand Caravan, it has no direct counterpart in either the 2011 Chrysler or Dodge minivan lineups. Most of the standard features on the 2011 Town & Country Limited are available as options on the Touing L model. And a few, such as heated second-row seats and remote keyless entry and ignition, are also available at extra cost on the base Touring model.
But standard on the 2011 Limited are a number of Town & Country exclusives, such as a 506-watt audio setup with nine amplified speakers and subwoofer. Similarly, no other 2011 Town & Country is available with the Limited’s xenon headlamps or upgraded Nappa leather upholstery with suede inserts. The Limited has the same 17-inch tires as the Touring L model but mounts them on chrome-finished aluminum wheels.
The navigation system is optional on all 2011 Town & Country models and adds (or upgrades with) HD radio, Siruis traffic and travel information, Gracenote music identification, a USB iPod interface, Bluetooth streaming audio and handsfree phone connectivity, and voice command of radio, navigation, and music functions. The Sirius Backseat TV option is exclusive to the Touring L and Limited models.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country Fuel Economy back to top
Adding the power of the Pentastar V-6 doesn’t mean lower fuel-economy ratings for the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country. The 2011 Town & Country has EPA ratings of 17/25 mpg city/highway. That matches the ratings for last year’s 4.0-liter V-6, but relinquishes the title of most fuel-efficient minivan to both the 2011 Odyssey and 2011 Sienna.
It’s still better than fuel-economy ratings for the 2010 Town & Country’s other engines, however: the 3.3-liter V-6 was rated at 17/24 mpg and the 3.8-liter V-6 at 16/23.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country Release Date back to top
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country will reach dealers’ showrooms in late November 2010, which means it comes a little late to the party: redesigned versions of the 2011 Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna minivans went on sale in summer 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country back to top
The midcycle updates to the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country and its Dodge Grand Caravan cousin mean these minivans won’t get significant additional changes until their next full redesign, which probably will come for model-year 2014.
Meanwhile, Chrysler’s corporate braintrust, the Fiat Group, will ultimately have to decide whether there’s a continued business case for selling both a Chrysler and a Dodge version of the same minivan. A factor in Town & Country’s favor is its relatively strong sales numbers, which are ahead of the Grand Caravan’s for most of calendar 2010, with a 42 percent increase over the year-earlier period, versus a 15 percent boost for the Dodge.
Note that Chrysler continues to lend its minivan to Volkswagen, which re-trims the interior and exterior and markets the result as the Routan.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country Competition back to top
2011 Honda Odyssey: America’s best-selling minivan attempts to break the stodgy two-box styling mold with a 2011 redesign that includes a distinctive notched “lightning bolt” body-side line. Inside, it’s more of the same quality materials and sporty design themes that distinguished the outgoing Odyssey, though smartly updated and with an even greater sense of spaciousness. The 2011 Odyssey’s only engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 with 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It rates 18/27 mpg linked to a five-speed automatic transmission, or, in the top-line models, 19/28 with a six-speed automatic. Acceleration is competitive and road manners are again at the top of the class. Base price range is $28,600-$44,000.
2011 Toyota Sienna: Also redesigned for 2011, Toyota’s minivan gets new styling, a fresh interior, and more features. This is the only minivan to offer a four-cylinder model, which starts at $25,450. Its 2.7-liter engine is rated at 187 horsepower, 186 pound-feet of torque, and 19/26 mpg. Surprisingly, the four-cylinder Sienna isn’t woefully underpowered, though most buyers will be happier with a V-6 version. Its 3.5-liter has 266 horsepower, 245 pound-feet of torque, and rates 18/24 mpg with front-wheel drive and 16/22 with all-wheel drive. Both engines use a six-speed automatic. Base price range for V-6 Siennas is $26,510-$39,510 ($32,140-$40,780 with all-wheel drive). This Toyota is roomy, comfortable, and competent, and offers its own seating innovations. The top model has second-row La-Z-Boy-type recliners, and Sienna is the first van to offer a factory equipped Auto Access Seat to make ingress and egress easier for the elderly and the infirm. Base prices range from about $29,000-$41,000. A gas-electric hybrid Sienna model could follow for model year 2012 or 2013.
2011 Ford Flex: If you can’t cotton the minivan image, consider this mingling of station wagon, minivan, and SUV. The unorthodox-looking Flex crossover has conventional side doors rather than minivan-type sliders, and it has much lower roof than a minivan. But it seats seven on three rows, offers front- or all-wheel-drive, and has a relatively low center of gravity that benefits handling. And Ford’s 355-horsepower EcoBoost V-6 option gives it V-8-like performance no minivan can match. Base price range is roughly $31,000-$46,000.
UPDATED BY JIM GORZELANY