The minivan segment isn't known for drama, but Chrysler's update of the Town & Country in the nick of time is about as close as it gets. Due to the advent of the excellent new Toyota Sienna and the even more freshly rebaked Honda Odyssey, the languishing Town & Country's game clock has been rapidly winding down to its last precious seconds. Is Chrysler's Hail Mary minivan a game winner? Honestly, no. A game-changer? Well, yes, at least in the sense that an overtime reconsideration of the trio of family boxes from Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda, now definitely seems in order. (The game is made even more interesting with appearance of the new Nissan Quest).
What makes the Town & Country so highly relevant again is a series of noticeable improvements that reaches from beneath the hood to the van's more flowing new skin. Among its external delights is a refashioned nose with a more expensive-looking grill (appearing less like a plumber's truck), a redesigned hood, and a re-jiggered stern including new taillights, rear glass, and an enormous winged Chrysler emblem perched higher. It's quite nice-looking and adeptly camouflages the carryover sheetmetal.
Replacing the previous iteration's puzzling choice of a 3.3-liter, 3.8-liter, and 4.0-liter V-6 is one solitary engine -- the new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6, producing 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. That's 32 hp more than the 4.0-liter, 86 greater than the 3.8's, and a giant 108 hp above the dreadful (and essentially rental-car special) 3.3-liter's output. Compared to a 4-liter Dodge Grand Caravan SXT we've recently tested, the Pentastar-equipped T & C proved to be half a second slower to 60 mph and 0.4 seconds behind to the 1/4 mile (with identical mileage numbers, we're told), but don't worry about that. What matters is that it feels significantly more refined and responds more crisply under your throttle foot. And it's certainly quieter. Which is saying something, as even the previous Town & Country was measurably quieter than the Sienna and Odyssey, both of which have enjoyed a thorough stem-to-stern re-engineering.