The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country may look like the one Chrysler has been selling for the last six years. In 2011, however, the Town & Country was rejuvenated, including a fresh interior and a new V6, which made it one of the best-driving and best-equipped minivans ever. It was finally the well-rounded product that it should have been from the beginning.

Compared to its mechanical twin, the similar, bargain-priced Dodge Grand Caravan, the Town & Country is pricier. However, it also comes with a tremendous amount of standard features, including a DVD entertainment system and leather upholstery. And a new S model brings a sporty flair.

There's clearly a market for luxurious minivans. Particularly when loaded with options, the T&C undercuts comparably equipped Japanese-brand competitors by thousands of dollars without feeling the least bit cheap inside. In fact, the dressy interior delivers quite a sense of occasion.

What's New for 2014?

The Town & Country is unchanged for the 2014 model year.

What We Like

Lots of standard luxuries; responsive steering and handling; handy 1-touch folding seats; good value relative to other fancy minivans

What We Don't

Less spacious than primary competitors; flat third-row seats; mechanically identical Dodge Grand Caravan is far cheaper; optional touchscreen is becoming dated

How Much?

$31,500-$42,000

Fuel Economy

The Town & Country is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that's rated at 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It's only available with front-wheel drive. Fuel economy is about average for the class at 17 miles per gallon city/25 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country is offered in four trim levels -- Touring, Touring L, Limited and S.

Even the base Touring ($31,500) is chock-full of niceties, including 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver's seat, power-adjustable pedals, 3-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, first- and second-row leather upholstery (cloth is a no-cost option), fold-flat rear seats, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a 6-speaker audio system and a 6.5-in touchscreen interface with a rearview camera, USB/Bluetooth connectivity and 30 gigabytes of digital music storage. Adding navigation for $895 also includes a backup camera.

The sporty Town & Country S ($33,000) features sporty body accents such as darkened headlamp bezels, black chrome grille, 17-in polished alloy wheels with painted pockets and more. The S model's interior is rendered in all-black with Torino leather seats with the letter S embroidered on the seat backs, as well as contrast stitching, piano-black trim and a black headliner. It comes with a performance suspension. It is available only in black, white, dark red or dark silver exterior colors.

The Touring L ($35,000) receives standard rear parking sensors, automatic high-beam headlamps, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-path detection, second- and third-row window shades and eligibility for a variety of upgrades, including extra-luxurious second-row captain's chairs, dual rear entertainment screens and a power-folding third-row seat with power recline.

The Limited ($42,000) has polished wheels, HID headlamps, leather-and-suede upholstery, a Blu-Ray DVD player with dual 9-in screens, knickknacks such as keyless entry with push-button ignition, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, navigation and an exclusive 9-speaker, 506-watt audio system.

Note that many of the fancier models' features are optional on lesser T&C models.

Safety

The 2014 Town & Country comes with standard stability control, anti-lock disc brakes and seven airbags (front, front side, full-length, side curtain, driver knee), a rear backup camera and a trailer sway control system.

In government crash testing, the Town & Country received an overall rating of four stars out of five, including four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side impacts and four stars in the rollover test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Grand Caravan a rating of Good -- the highest possible -- in every category.

Furthermore, the Town & Country is available with the SafetyTec package (standard on Touring L and Limited models), which includes rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, SmartBeam headlamps, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection.

Behind the Wheel

The Town & Country has plenty of power under the hood and delivers quick manual shifts, too, with the automatic's shifter in AutoStick mode. We love the hushed, smooth highway ride, as well. Full loads rarely present a problem, though you may notice that the V6 is a bit soft at low engine speeds if you're a speed demon.

Anyone who expects that minivans are nothing more than porky, tippy kid shuttles will be pleasantly surprised with the Town & Country's handing, with its excellent body control and crisp steering. This gives the Town & Country a sense of maneuverability that's absent from some vans. The S model gets even better, thanks to its retuned suspension.

Other Cars to Consider

Honda Odyssey -- The Honda Odyssey boasts an impressive technology suite and comfy accommodations, but its dull dynamics and odd styling are question marks. Few minivans, however, offer the sort of interior flexibility and ergonomic usefulness that characterize the Odyssey.

Nissan Quest -- Based on a Japanese-market van, the Nissan Quest is taller and narrower than the rest, but it also has the nicest interior design, delightful seats and an eager V6. Too bad about its droning continuously variable transmission and high load floor.

Toyota Sienna -- The Sienna is huge inside but rather devoid of character compared to the Town & Country. It also offers a novel split-screen entertainment system that allows two kids to do their own thing simultaneously.

AutoTrader's Advice

The available second-row captain's chairs are very nice, but we'd rather pick up an entry-level Touring for its $30,000-ish base price. Did you see all those standard features? It's a lot of minivan for the money, even with the much cheaper Grand Caravan likely right next door on the dealer lot. If your kids want to pretend they're secret agents every time they get in and out, however, the S model is the one to get.

AutoTrader

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