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1998 Chrysler Town & Country Van

4dr 119' WB LX AWD

Starting at | Starting at 16 MPG City - 23 MPG Highway

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  • $30,260 original MSRP
Printable Version

1998 Chrysler Town & Country Van

Printable Version

1998 Chrysler Town & Country Van

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1998 Chrysler Town & Country LXi

Source: New Car Test Drive

Still the industry leader.

by Kevin Ransom

Base price: $32,300
As tested: $32,300

The only certainties in life, so the adage goes, are death and taxes. We'd like to add another: year in and year out, Chrysler will set the standard for minivan styling, design and function.

Given the rocky financial road the company traveled in the '80s, it's assuring that Chrysler continues to deliver on the minivan front. Indeed, complacency is not a word you'll find in the Chrysler designers' handbook.

In 1996, Chrysler redesigned its world-beating minivans from the ground up. And this year, just to let buyers know they're not resting on past success, Chrysler has again upgraded its minivans with enhancements, refinements and new equipment.

Chrysler has always shown an ability to keep ahead of the competition by offering varying configurations to suit different types of buyers. The company gives buyers a choice among three nameplates, Chrysler Town & Country, Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan. Each offers two trim levels and each comes in short- and long-wheelbase versions.

The stylish, upmarket Town & Country LXi offers a long list of luxury amenities as standard equipment with a base price in the $32,000 range. The more modestly priced Plymouth Voyager and its lookalike cousin, the best-selling Dodge Caravan, take a different tack by focusing on value. That doesn't mean the Voyager and Caravan are lacking in amenities: Although lower-priced, they also deliver the goods when it comes to styling, convenience, comfort and handling.

Walkaround

We road-tested the top-of-the-line Town & Country LXi front-wheel-drive model. People who buy vans are space-conscious, so here's some data: at 119.3 inches, the wheelbase of the LXi (and the mid-line LX) is six inches longer than that of the base SX model. From bumper-to-bumper, the LX and LXi are also longer -- 199.7 inches, compared to the 186.4-inch SX. The LX/LXi's total cargo space measures 162.9 cubic feet with the seats removed, compared to 138.5 cubic feet in the SX. The LXi model is slightly heftier as well: 4168 pounds, compared to the SX's 3958 pounds.

Our Town & Country LXi test model listed for a base price of $32,300, including the $580 destination charge. (Base prices for the SX and LX are $27,260 and $27,715, respectively.) A base price of $32,000-plus may sound steep, but as a luxury model, the LXi includes the following standard equipment: dual air bags, sliding driver-side door, anti-lock brakes, traction control, side door beams for impact protection, windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, power eight-way front seats with memory, easy-out rear seats with rollers, adjustable driver's-seat lumbar support, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, keyless entry, overhead console trip computer, power garage door opener, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, rearview mirror with automatic day-night feature, stereo system with AM/FM/cassette/CD and equalizer, deluxe sound insulation and 16-inch gold wheel covers.

New touches for 1998 include a sloping, redesigned front fascia, a new sweeping grille with a winged Chrysler badge, an automatic-dimming left-outside rearview mirror, automatic headlights, easy-entry left quad seat and adjustable lumbar support. Under the hood, is a 3.8-liter 180-horsepower V-6 that is more powerful than last year.

The dark-tinted windows blended perfectly with the vehicle's dusky, deep-purple paint job -- which Chrysler has dubbed Deep Amethyst Pearl. The result is a sporty visage that is both elegant and slightly imposing. But, due to its rounded corners, slanting windshield, sculpted body panels and understated side moldings, even a lighter-colored LXi would still convey a sporty look.

The Inside Story

We'll never understand who handed down the initial edict, in the early days of minivans, that said one sliding door would be offered and it had to go on the passenger side. Anyone who experiences the ease of the Town & Country's sliding driver's-side door will be a convert for life. Indeed, whether you're a busy parent, an arts-and-crafts type or a Home Improvement devotee with an armload of tools, you'll love the convenience of loading your cargo from your own side of the vehicle, instead of having to circle around to the passenger's side.

The Town & Country LXi was so spacious that we thought about choosing up sides for a game of interior touch football -- after removing the seats, of course.

In years past, that would have required a yeoman effort.

But seat removal is much easier than it was in bygone days. Our test model's center-row bucket seats can be unlatched and removed via the sliding side doors, while a solid yank on a lever pops the third-row bench seat up onto a set of wheels, allowing it to be rolled backwards and removed via the tailgate. However, it's still a two-person job. For smaller loads, the seat backs can also be folded down -- affording enough room for the proverbial sheet of plywood.

Head and legroom were quite sufficient, in both the front bucket seats and the second-row seats. Although Chrysler says the Town & Country's rear bench can seat three, one of those persons would have to be pre-pubescent.

Kudos also go to designers for the accident response system -- which has been designed so that, after the airbag deploys in a crash, the power locks unlock and the interior lights turn on.

Ride & Drive

The 1996 redesign included a retuned suspension, so the Town & Country handles much more like a sedan than the minivans of yore. Plus, the substantial torsional rigidity means the vehicle feels firmly planted. That's definitely a benefit in the Town & Country, which, at 68.7 inches, still tends to lean a bit on freeway cloverleaf ramps and during quick turns at medium to high speeds. Even when it leans, however, the Town & Country feels solidly planted on terra firma.

Some of the credit, of course, goes to the power rack-and-pinion steering, which made the LXi just as responsive during abrupt lane-change maneuvers. The smaller base-model SX will likely be even more light-footed.

Last year, designers improved the Town & Country's ride quietness. As a result, the Town & Country sounds as quiet as many sedans.

The Town & Country offers two engine options -- the 3.3-liter V-6, which is standard on the SX and LX, and the 3.8-liter V-6, which is optional on the SX and LX and comes standard on the LXi. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard on the SX and LX. A four-speed automatic with all-wheel drive is optional on the LX and LXi.

Our LXi test model was powered by the 3.8-liter V-6. We recommend this engine for the LX and LXi because they are heavier and stretch across a longer wheelbase than the SX. With this beefier powertrain at our disposal, we found that the Town & Country stepped up to the plate and responded to most of the demands we placed on it -- from standing starts to high-speed freeway passing.

Final Word

If your lifestyle requires the roominess of a minivan, you'll find many fine entries in the market -- like the Plymouth Voyager, Dodge Caravan, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Mazda MPV, Mercury Villager and Nissan Quest. But if you also like to be pampered by luxury amenities -- and are comfortable with a $32,000 price tag -- the Town & Country is probably the minivan for you.

Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084

©1998 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1998 Chrysler Town & Country Van

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Printable Version

1998 Chrysler Town & Country Van

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance 5 Years/100,000 Miles

Chrysler Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

7-Years/100,000-Miles (whichever comes first). Powertrain Limited Warranty runs from the date vehicle was sold as new.

3-Month/3,000-Mile Maximum Care Warranty. Starts on the date of the CPOV sale, or at the expiration of the remaining 3/36 Basic New Vehicle Warranty.

A deductible may apply. See dealer for details or call 1-800-677-5782
Age/Mileage Eligibility 5 years / 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 125 point
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $100

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1998 Chrysler Town & Country Van

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