You have no idea what a relief it is to introduce you to the latest addition to our long-term fleet -- an "inferno red" Chrysler Town & Country Limited minivan. Since our trusty 2006 Kia Sedona completed its tour and went off the books a while back, the frequent people-shuttlers among us have been making do with a couple of very nice crossovers -- a Mazda CX-9, and more recently, a Hyundai Veracruz. But as good as they are (the former is Motor Trend's 2008 SUV of the year, remember), they're not minivans. No, you really have to repeat this with me, it's important: "crossovers are not minivans." Splitting hairs?

It's not splitting hairs when your rather large crossover is jam-packed for a week-long family vacation and you've still got a third of the stuff you took last year sitting on the driveway. Didn't all this fit in the Sedona?

It did. The Sedona's volume aft of the front seat is 141.5 cubic feet. The CX-9's? 100.7 cubic feet. The Veracruz measures 86.8 cubics. Roughly speaking, that's 40-percent-less stuffed animal and favorite pillow capacity than in the Sedona. The bottom line is that if the word "minivan" is too radioactive for you to contemplate, get used to some of your kid's stuff sitting on the driveway. Ah, but wipe those tears from your eyes, little one: our new Chrysler, with 140.6 cubic feet behind the front seats, has come to the rescue.

Our Town & Country Limited is pricey (base price $36,755, as is, $40,895) but it's also nicely equipped, coming standard with the disappearing-act Stow 'n Go seats, three-zone climate control, Sirius Satellite Radio, the almost essential backup camera, power side windows (including angle-out third windows), and a power liftgate. Options include the dual-screen DVD system with Sirius Backseat TV, wireless headphones (you won't hear from the kids for hours), and for us big kids, power folding third-row seats, and the MyGIG Multimedia system integrated with navigation and Sirius Real-Time Traffic info. Coupled to a six-speed automatic, the new 4.0-liter, 240-horse V-6 doesn't exactly render the Town & Country room with va-room, but motionless to 60 mph in a skosh over eight seconds isn't a bad go.

So, will its durability and dense concentration of creature features keep us this giddy 12 months from now? And finally, the question that looms like the 600-pound gorilla: Does the very architect of this vehicular form still have its minivan mojo? Stay tuned.


Our Car
Base Price $36,755
Price as tested $40,895
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD, 7-pass, 4-door minivan
Engine 4.0 L/240-hp/253-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4633 lb (56/44%)
Wheelbase 121.2 in
Length x width x height 202.5 x 78.7 x 68.9 in
0-60 mph 8.1 sec
Quarter mile 16.3 sec @ 86.3 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 135 ft
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/23 mpg
CO2 emmisions 1.05 lb/mile
Total mileage 3811
Average test mpg 18
Unresolved problem areas None