2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2008 Chrysler Town & Country

Ottawa, Ontario – The minivan may be losing steam, but it’s not dead yet. Ford recently ditched its Freestar minivan to focus on trendier crossovers. General Motors almost did away with its Pontiac Montana SV6 and Chevy Uplander vans, but a last-minute decision means they’ll live to see another model year. So while the future of the minivan appears hazy at best on the domestic front – Koreans Kia and Hyundai and most of the Japanese companies still offer minivans – segment originator Chrysler continues to plug away.

The company recently launched its fifth-generation Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country vans for the 2008 model year. What’s interesting is that Chrysler, as a brand, has gone against the prevailing current by ditching its crossover (the Pacifica, though it will ostensibly be replaced by the upcoming Dodge Journey), leaving the Town & Country as this upscale brand’s only car-based model geared toward moving more than five people at once.

My tester was a top-dog Limited model with just two extras: the $625 “flexible seating group” (which is engineer-speak for the more ad-friendly Swivel ‘n Go second-row seats – the only unique innovation this generation brings) and the $650 power-folding third-row seat.

2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited. Click image to enlarge

The Limited trim line comes standard with Chrysler’s new 4.0-litre V6 engine (the Touring uses a 3.8-litre V6) and six-speed automatic transmission. While it’s not the best powertrain ever – the motor doesn’t exactly sing at higher revs, and the transmission is prone to the odd rough shift – the engine’s 251 horsepower is more than enough, at least when the van is unloaded. I didn’t pack all seven seats, but four occupants, heavily bundled against a frigid Saturday evening, gave it no pause.

And if the transmission’s behaviour isn’t flawless, the six ratios within are well chosen. Acceleration off the line is snappy, and 100 km/h highway cruising has the engine spinning just under 2,000 rpm.

While the Town & Country’s steering and handling aren’t inspiring (and let’s face it, sporty performance isn’t this vehicle’s raison d’�tre, anyway), the brakes are typical Chrysler: firm and responsive. As befits its luxury mission, the ride is smooth, though it can get floaty at higher speeds.

2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited. Click image to enlarge

The front seats are comfortable, as are the second-row chairs. For comfort, choose the Swivel ‘n Go set-up; while the fold-into-the-floor Stow ‘n Go arrangement is more practical (and would be my choice), those seats aren’t as inviting. My Saturday evening passengers were mightily grateful for the seat heaters installed in their chairs, a standard feature in the Limited version. The seats’ suede inserts are very nice, both for the grip they provide and for the contrast to the otherwise cheap-feeling leather.

While the driver doesn’t get a telescoping steering column, the pedals are power-adjustable making it easy to find a comfy driving position.

The third row is accommodating enough, but the bottom cushions are at a weird angle that makes it tough to get out of them. The power-adjustable backrest is a nice touch. That only comes with the power-folding feature, which in turn is only available with leather. I don’t think this feature is great value; reaching in to fold the seats manually isn’t that difficult, and is probably quicker.

The Swivel ‘n Go seats are indeed comfortable, and the swivel function doesn’t eliminate a fore-and-aft adjustment. The problem is that getting the seats out of the way means going old-school and taking them out of the van. Less comfortable or not, I’d prefer the convenience of being able to stuff them into the floor if I needed to haul something big inside.

2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited. Click image to enlarge

Also, while the swivel option is nifty, spinning them around means little leg room for anyone in back and also restricts how far back the front seats can be moved. The table, which can be stowed in the underfloor compartment normally reserved for the standard stowable seats, feels a little chintzy. I couldn’t get it installed properly without forcing it (which I didn’t want to do), though I suspect that a previous tester might have had the same problem, if the broken plastic clip in the underside of the table top was any indication.

The Limited package includes Chrysler’s nifty MyGIG hard-drive-based entertainment system, Sirius satellite radio and a fantastic-sounding nine-speaker sound system powered by a 506-watt (!) amplifier.

Interior storage is generous: there’s a large centre console bin that slides back to provide cupholder access for second-row passengers; there are also four flip-down compartments in the headliner, one or more of which would give up their spots in models with the optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The Town & Country gets Chrysler’s nifty LED interior lighting, and the overhead console features trippy green ambient lighting that can be toggled on and off via a dashboard button.

While there’s a lot to like here, Chrysler’s minivans’ biggest draw at the moment is their comparatively low prices. At an as-tested $45,620, this van is a strong value compared to top-end versions of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. While those vans are dynamically superior (as are the value-conscious Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona twins), Chrysler boasts the only six-speed automatic in the segment and an interior that’s just as roomy. I think the standard Stow ‘n Go seats – somehow, none of Chrysler’s competitors have managed to engineer this into their own vans – are a big value-adder too. While the Swivel ‘n Go option is inexpensive, I’d personally rather keep the $625.

The minivan’s not dead. No matter the crossover’s higher “cool” factor, the minivan is still the most flexible set-up out there for the family that travels together. And while, by some definitions at least, Chrysler’s minivans may no longer be the best in every way, their low prices and practical interiors make one an easy choice to justify.

Pricing: 2008 Chrysler Town & Country Limited


  • Click here for complete specifications

Related articles on Autos

First Drives

Test Drives

  • 2008 Chrysler Town & Country


  • 2008 Chevrolet Uplander
  • 2008 Honda Odyssey
  • 2008 Hyundai Entourage
  • 2008 Kia Sedona
  • 2008 Nissan Quest
  • 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6
  • 2008 Toyota Sienna

Crash test results

Manufacturer’s web site

Connect with Autos.ca