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Chrysler invented the minivan in the early 1980s. Ten years later, it invented the luxury minivan, the Town & Country. As we begin the new millennium, the Town & Country continues to set the pace for the minivan pack, whether we're talking about styling, comfort, spaciousness or ride quality.
In fact, the Chrysler Town & Country's refinements and amenities are so plentiful that it can square off with many luxury sedans. And that includes ride quality, because the Town & Country purrs along like a sedan.
Chrysler offers varying minivan configurations to suit different types of buyers. Until this year, Chrysler has always given buyers a choice among three nameplates -- Chrysler Town & Country, Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan. But the Plymouth nameplate has been retired, so the Voyager lives on as the Chrysler Voyager.
New colors for 2000 are bright white, bright silver, patriot blue, inferno red and shale green.
The Town & Country feels firmly planted in corners and stable at high speeds. Chrysler tuned the suspension to ride like a sedan. Its rigid chassis makes it feel solid, an important benefit in a taller vehicle, whether it's a minivan or a sport-utility.
The Town & Country's rack & pinion power steering impressed us with its responsiveness in quick lane-change maneuvers. The road-noise issue--long a problem with all minivans--was abated when Chrysler redesigned the Town & Country in 1996. So the Town & Country delivers a ride that's more serene than most minivans. And it rivals many sedans when it comes to interior quietude.
Our Limited test model was powered by the 3.8-liter V6, which produces180 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 240 foot-pounds of torque at 3200 rpm. The 3.8-liter engine, the brawniest one offered in Chrysler's minivan stable, is absolutely our favorite. The smaller 3.3-liter engine, which puts out 158 horsepower and 203 foot pounds of torque, certainly provides enough boost for the short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Voyager, but we recommend the 3.8-liter engine for the longer, heavier Town & Country models.
The 3.8-liter engine packs more than enough thrust when accelerating from a dead stop. The extra horses were definitely appreciated in freeway merging and passing situations. Brakes are a special concern on larger vehicles because you may be carrying a heavier load and some very important passengers. The Town & Country addresses those concerns by coming to an assured, firm stop, with no grabbing or fading.
If roominess and practicality are your chief concerns, there is a dizzying array of minivans available. But the Chrysler Town & Country answers the call for those who see no reason why roominess and practicality can't come with comfort and luxury.