In an industry seemingly shifting away from minivans (Ford and General Motors have essentially bailed out of the market) and toward crossover-style vehicles, the Chrysler Group is determined to hang onto its huge sales slice of the automotive genre created back in 1983 by the automaker formerly known as the Chrysler Corporation. Clearly, Chrysler's most significant debuts at this year's Detroit Auto Show are its 2008 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. Touted as "family rooms on wheels" by the automaker, these new people movers predictably save their most innovative features for the inside.
Both vehicles, which share the same platform, feature Chrysler's new Swivel 'n Go seating option (Stow `n Go also continues). The second row seats can now rotate 180 degrees to face the third row, yet still fold flat when extra storage space is required. A removable table can also be installed between the rows offering a convenient place for children to play games or for adults to have an impromptu business meeting. An integrated child booster seat in the second-row quad chair and a one-touch power-folding third-row 60/40 bench seat are available options.
Keeping the kiddies safe is of course a top priority for a minivan, and Chrysler has added a raft of standard and optional safety and vehicle stability control features. Other Chrysler minivan firsts include a rear back-up camera and parking system and a rearview interior conversation mirror.
Another priority is keeping the little tykes occupied, and once again, Chrysler has got it covered with entertainment options such as a nine-speaker, surround-sound DVD entertainment system that can play two DVDs at once on separate screens and two 12-volt power sources ideal for iPods or portable game systems. The interior is bathed in an ambient lighting system providing what Chrysler says is a natural, room-like environment and there are night light options for the rear passenger area. Storage compartments, bins, and pockets are plentiful and cupholders are copious (there are 13 total). The MyGIG Infotainment System, which incorporates voice-activated navigation as well as a hard drive for digital music storage and playback, is an option.Powering the all-new minivans will be a choice of three V-6s: a 240 horsepower, 4.0-liter version, a 3.8-liter, or a 3.3-liter E85 capable version. The E85 engine receives a four-speed transaxle while the larger displacement engines are given six-speed gearboxes.
Dodge will two models: the Dodge Grand Caravan SE and Dodge Grand Caravan SXT. Chrysler three: the Chrysler Town & Country LX, the Chrysler Town & Country Touring and the Chrysler Town & Country Limited.
Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com for live updates on these and many other vehicles from the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, January 7-9, 2007.