Monday, August 6, 2007

IMPRESSIVE: Chrysler’s new 2008 Town & Country minivan sports a host of improvements.

Minivan loaded with goodies
Chrysler officials claim their 2008 minivan “doesn’t drive like a minivan” anymore. But it took merging into rush hour traffic on a California highway and making a few lane changes at speed to convince me the boast is true.

Today is the day Chrysler allows hundreds of North American automotive reviewers and industry analysts to report their impressions of the company’s most important product after test driving the company’s next-generation minivans here over the past few weeks.

The stakes are huge. The minivan marketplace in Canada alone will be worth an estimated $5.6 billion this year. Chrysler owns more than 42 per cent of that market, selling 63,000 of the 171,000 vans Canadians bought last year. But it aims to gain even more market share with the fifth-generation van it just started building in Windsor last month.

The bottom line: consumers are going to find they can get a lot more minivan for less money from Chrysler’s lineup of five new family vehicles. Chrysler says there are 35 new features on the vans. But it seems like more: There are so many improvements in the van, it takes hours to find and identify them all.

Many interior materials are substantially improved — the window ledges below all the side windows now are now soft to the touch rather than hard plastic.

The second row windows now roll down, eliminating the claustrophobia that afflicted so many back seat passengers, both young and old.

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