2012 Chrysler Town & Country Review and Prices
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country is the best minivan for you if you want a handsome vehicle to tote the family or carpool kids efficiently and comfortably -- and keep everyone entertained en route.
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country hammers home its upscale message by gaining leather upholstery and a single-screen rear DVD entertainment system as standard equipment on every model. The changes help position the Town & Country as an upmarket minivan and further distance it from the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, with which it shares its basic underskin design. That link will continue even after 2014, when the Town & Country will be discontinued as a minivan and replaced by a crossover SUV, leaving the Grand Caravan as the Chrysler Group’s only minivan. (See “What’s Next for the Chrysler Town & Country” below for details.)
Should you buy a 2012 Chrysler Town & Country or wait for the 2013 Chrysler Town & Country? Buy the 2012 Town & Country. The 2013 T&C isn’t likely to receive any revisions worth waiting for, though it could be subject to annual model-year price escalation. And it may well suffer accelerated depreciation if it is indeed the last of its minivan kind.
2012 Chrysler Town & Country Changes back to top
Styling: Cosmetic changes to the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country are minor. New color choices include True Blue, Cashmere Pearl, and Crystal Blue. Inside, leather seating is now standard across the model range and there’s a new Sapphire Blue lighting scheme. The top-of-the line 2012 Town & Country Limited model also gains a leather- and wood-trimmed steering wheel.
Otherwise, the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country’s styling carries over with the changes made as part of its model-year 2011 midcycle refresh. That refresh tweaked this minivan’s front and rear styling for a slightly more sophisticated look. It also gave the interior richer-feeling materials.
The 2012 Town & Country retains the same basic profile and dimensions that came on board with this minivan’s model-year 2008 redesign. While some minivans, notably the Honda Odyssey and Nissan Quest, reach for some visual flair, the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country remains its slab-sided self. Rigid-looking though it may be, the boxy shape helps maximize interior room, and its large rectangular windows create an expansive feeling inside and furnish good outward visibility.
Like all minivans, the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country has sliding doors on both sides and a wide rear liftgate for easy cargo loading and unloading. The sliding doors feature roll-down windows and, like the liftgate, offer a power open/close feature. Chrysler’s unique Stow ‘n Place roof rack-system allows the roof bows to be stored in the side rails when not in use. That improves highway-speed aerodynamics, which in turn helps fuel economy.
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country comes in three levels of trim: base-model Touring, better-equipped Touring L, and top-line Limited.
Finally, note that yet a third version of this same basic van -- albeit with its own exterior and interior treatments and suspension tuning -- is marketed as the 2012 Volkswagen Routan.
Mechanical: The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country is unchanged under the hood after receiving Chrysler’s Pentastar” V-6 as part of its model-year 2011 revamp. Named in honor of the company’s five-point logo, this engine appears in several other Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models. The 3.6-liter V-6 is the 2012 Town & Country’s only engine and delivers a class-leading 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A smooth shifting six-speed automatic is the only transmission; its shift lever is mounted next to the steering wheel and features a separate gate for manual-type gear control.
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country is front-wheel drive. That places the engine and transmission over the tires that also propel the vehicle, which benefits packaging and wet-surface traction. The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan to offer all-wheel-drive in addition to front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive does provide added traction on wet or snowy roads, but accounts for few sales and won’t be offered on the Town & Country or Grand Caravan during this current design generation.
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country includes a full list of standard safety features, including antilock brakes to help maintain control in sudden stops. As mandated by federal regulation, antiskid electronic stability control is also included to help prevent sideways slides in extreme handling situations.
Features: A single-screen rear-seat DVD entertainment system is newly standard on the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring and Touring L models. A rear DVD system with two screens -- one positioned for viewing by the second seating row, the other for viewing by the third row -- remains optional on the Touring L and standard on the Limited.
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country seats seven passengers via dual front buckets, a pair of second-row buckets, and a three-place third-row bench. The Town & Country, along with the Grand Caravan, have exclusive use of Chrysler’s Stow ‘n Go seating arrangement. It’s standard on all models and allows the second-row buckets to fold completely into wells in the floor; as in other minivans, the third-row bench also flips into a rear floor well to create a flat cargo load surface long and wide enough to carry 4x8 sheets of building materials.
The second- and third-row seats can also fold away in individual segments for maximum flexibility. In rival minivans, owners have to physically remove the second-row seats or, at the least, fold the seatbacks, to free up carrying capacity. With the Town & Country’s second-row seats in their upright position, the central floor wells become dual covered storage bins.
The knock on Stow ‘n Go is that its fold-into-the-floor design makes necessary rather thinly constructed second-row seats. For buyers who want more thickly padded second row seats and are willing to sacrifice the fold-into-the-floor feature, the 2012 Town & Country Touring L and Limited models are optionally available with heftier buckets that are fixed in place. (The central floor wells are retained as covered storage.)
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country comes with an array of airbags, including seat-mounted side-impact bags for front occupants and head-protecting side-curtain airbags for outboard positions of all three seating rows. An available blind-spot alert system warns the driver of vehicles in adjacent lanes that might escape notice in a side mirror and also of vehicles approaching from the sides when backing out of parking spaces or a garage.
Families will find no shortage of entertainment, connectivity, and convenience features available for the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country. Standard features include a rear backup camera for easier and safer parking, power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, and a CD audio system that incorporates a 30- gigabyte hard drive for digital media storage.
Other available premium features include multiple-zone automatic climate controls, a voice-activated GPS navigation system, premium audio system with USB iPod and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless push-button entry/start. A dealer-installed accessory turns the minivan into a rolling WiFi hot spot so passengers can connect to the Internet via their laptop computers, iPads, iPods, and other enabled devices. This option requires a paid data plan.
2012 Chrysler Town & Country Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2012 Town & Country is $30,930-$40,585. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Chrysler’s fee for the 2012 Town & Country is $935.)
That range actually represents a slight rollback of Town & Country base prices from model-year 2011 levels and allows this minivan to retain a slight price advantage over the Odyssey and Sienna, particularly with addition of the DVD system and leather seats as standard.
The base 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring version starts at $30,930. The midrange 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring L model has a base price of $34,080. The top-of-the-line 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Touring model is priced from $40,585.
Among key 2012 Chrysler Town & Country options is a $1,500 package for the Touring model that includes rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rear parking proximity alarm, automatic headlamps, a tire pressure monitor, and the blind-spot detection system.
A voice-activated Media Center that includes an upgraded audio system, navigation system, and Bluetooth interface is priced at $795. The Wi-Fi hot spot costs $650, though service is billed separately on a subscription basis.
A power sunroof for the Touring L model is priced at $995, with fixed second-row bucket seats on the Touring L and Limited models available at $320.
2012 Chrysler Town & Country Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 Town & Country are unchanged at 17/25 mpg city/highway and a combined 20 mpg city/highway.
This is about average in the segment, with the class leader being the most expensive version of the 2012 Honda Odyssey at 19/28/22 mpg. (The Mazda 5 is rated 21/28/24, but it’s a compact-sized four-cylinder mini-minivan).
2012 Chrysler Town & Country Release Date back to top
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country went on sale in September 2011.
What's next for the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country back to top
Due during 2014 as a 2014 or 2015 model, the next-generation of this Chrysler people mover may well retain the Town & Country name, but it won’t be a minivan. That’s the latest word from Sergio Marchionne, the top man at Fiat, the Italian automaker that controls the Chrysler Group (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram truck.)
Marchionne told reporters that today’s Chrysler minivan will be replaced with an upscale crossover SUV. The redesigned 2014 or 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan will become the company’s sole minivan. The move would support Fiat’s aim to take the Chrysler brand upmarket. Reports suggest the coming crossover could be in the mold of the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, a large seven-passenger wagon lower and sleeker than a minivan.
The Town & Country replacement, whatever its name, would likely share the understructure of the next-generation Grand Caravan. It’s apt to have three-row seating, though perhaps using six bucket seats instead of a family-type third-row bench. And it would likely use four conventional side doors rather than minivan-type sliding side doors. The Grand Caravan probably would remain front-wheel drive, but the Chrysler crossover would likely offer front- and all-wheel-drive powertrains.
The Town & Country, Grand Caravan, and the long-departed Plymouth Voyager were once America’s minivan mainstays. But beginning in the early 1990s, a large share of potential minivan families switched to truck-based SUVs and eventually to unibody crossover SUVs. The minivan market has dwindled and Fiat apparently determined it can no longer afford to produce two so-similar versions of the same vehicle. That’s understandable, given that 90 percent of its dealers sell both Chrysler and Dodge models under the same roof.
One aim of transforming the Chrysler entry into a crossover SUV would to attract minivan-averse moms and dads. While the Town & Country has on occasion outsold the Grand Caravan, the Dodge has proved more popular overall, especially with a lineup expanded in recent years to appeal specifically to value-minded families.
Fiat and Chrysler, however, will be challenged to avoid repeating the sales dud that was the 2004-2008 Chrysler Pacifica. That upscale three-row crossover was lower and sleeker than a minivan. It had four conventional side doors, front- and all-wheel drive, and relatively sporty driving manners. But like the similar-in-concept Ford Taurus X and Ford Flex – and even the Mercedes R-Class – it failed to capture a wide audience.
2012 Chrysler Town & Country Competition back to top
Honda Odyssey: Revised for model-year 2011 with distinctive styling marked by a zig-zag body-side line, this popular minivan continues for 2012 with only minor updates. It remains comfortable, capable and a solid choice for both families and empty nesters. Its 3.5-liter V-6 engine is peppy enough, and handling is crisp for an eight-seat family hauler. Fuel economy is 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined with the five-speed automatic transmission, 19/28/22 in more expensive models with a six-speed automatic. Base-price range for the 2012 Odyssey is $29,205-$44,655.
Toyota Sienna: Likewise redesigned for 2011, the Sienna remains as upscale in appeal as the Town & Country while a bit more conservative in styling and nature than the Odyssey. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is available to shave some bucks off the purchase price but at 19/24/21 mpg, it’s about even with the stronger 3.5-liter V6, which rates 18/25/21 mpg. All-wheel-drive is available with the V-6 and earns a 17/23/19-mpg rating. Sienna can accommodate seven or eight passengers. Second-row offerings include lounger-type reclining buckets and a unique Auto Access Seat to help the elderly and disabled get in and out. Base-prices range for the 2012 Sienna is $25,870-$41,380. A gas-electric hybrid Sienna model could be in the works for a future model year.
Ford Flex: If you’re self-image makes you minivanphobic, consider this unusual seven-seater from Ford. Carrying over for 2012 with only minor changes, the Flex is about as close to a minivan as you can get without actually being one. The boxy Flex rides lower and features swing-out, rather than sliding doors, but it’s as accommodating as a minivan for up to seven passengers, with its own set of novel features that includes a small backseat refrigerator. It comes with front- or all-wheel-drive and offers a choice of 3.5-liter V-6 engines, including a powerful and fuel-efficient turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 version. Fuel economy ranges from 18/25/20 mpg with the standard engine and front-drive to 16/23/18 mpg with the EcoBoost and AWD. It’s priced from $31,710-$45,155.
UPDATED BY CHUCK GIAMETTA