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Chrysler

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Buyer's Guide

Chrysler Town & Country LX (2000)

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 26,800
     Price As Tested                                    $ 27,415
     Engine Type               OHV 12-valve 3.3 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 201 cid/3301 cc
     Horsepower                                   158 @ 4850 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               203 @ 3250 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  119.3"/76.8"/199.7"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3978 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  20.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P215/65R15 all season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.36

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/24/20

     0-60 MPH                                       11.5 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                        1150 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         3500 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

( Chrysler dominates the minivan market with 43 percent of the sales says Matt Hagin. His dad Bob recalls the first Chrysler-built minivan he tried and notes that quality has improved in 17 years.)

BOB - The 2000 Chrysler Town & Country is a far cry from the Chrysler-built Dodge minivan we tested back in '83. I thought its introduction was - well- "premature." But they've been improved and the company hit a milestone when Chrysler produced its eight-millionth minivan recently. Chrysler sells them in over 70 countries and in many different configurations. This year, the Town & Country version can be had with two V6 engine sizes, a 3.3 liter and a more powerful 3.8. Our test van came with the smaller one and in most states, it can also be had as a "flex- fuel," engine that can run on either gasoline or an 85 percent alcohol/gasoline mix or anything in between. Our tester was equipped with the LX trim and therefore had the smaller engine that puts out only 158 horses and 203 pound-feet of torque. Both Chrysler minivan engines are relatively low-tech overhead-valve designs sporting two valves per cylinder that are operated by pushrods.

MATT - A 3.8-liter V6 is an option for the upper-level LXi and standard on the classy Limited. It develops 22 more ponies and 37 more pound-feet of torque. In addition, the LXi and Limited can be had in an all-wheel-drive configuration that's very popular with skiers but only available with the bigger V6 for the LXi versions. All of them come with a four-speed automatic transmission and the engine is up front in a transverse position. All Chrysler minivans use MacPherson struts up front and a solid beam rear axle that rides on leaf springs. I'd like to see traction control available with all Town & Country trim levels, but it's just for the LXi and Limited. The all-wheel-drive Town & Country versions don't have traction control offered, not even on the Limited.

BOB - I guess Chrysler figures that all-wheel drive is safe enough without it. However, they did supply anti-lock brakes as standard equipment on all levels and to me that's a must. Chrysler doesn't put rear disc brakes on any of the Town & Country models except for on the all-wheel-drive units where they are standard equipment. I think a full-size spare tire is important so it can be used in a tire rotation schedule and one comes standard on the Limited but it's an option on the LXi and LX. A special "Wheel/Handling Group" package is standard on the Limited, and comes as an optional on the LX and LXi. That package has tighter suspension and bigger wheels. In addition, an optional towing package can be had on all versions. Another nice feature on any car are fog lamps, and they're standard equipment on all Town & Country models.

MATT - The Town & Country can carry up to seven people and the load- leveling suspension keeps things on an even keel. It's standard on every 2000 Town & Country except the LX, where it's optional. Chrysler has been the leader in minivans and produced them back when it was not cool to be seen driving one. At first, they were produced strictly as low- budget grocery-haulers but now the Chrysler Town & Country is very plush, upscale and comfortable. The two rear bench seats can be moved on rollers to up behind the front seats, giving lots of cargo space in just seconds. If you need further proof that this Town & Country is designed to be a family vehicle, it even has special hooks to hang grocery bags.

BOB - Another plus for families is having a sliding side rear door on both sides. It took minivan makers a long time to catch on to this idea and it makes family life lots easier. Now, it's no problem to load your little girls into their car seats and maybe next time we should ask Chrysler for a tester with the optional child's seat to see if would make loading them even easier. Locking drawers under the front seats are handy too. The EPA calls minivans "Multi-Purpose" and after a week behind the wheel of this latest Town & Country, I believe it.

MATT - The appeal of minivans is universal to all but one group, Dad. Teenagers still find them "uncool."

BOB - All the more reason for a family to own one.

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