As the Chrysler Brand celebrates its 90th year in the automotive industry, lets take a look back throughout the years at one its most successful and celebrated vehicles, the Town and Country.
From its humble beginnings in 1941 as the steel roofed family “woody wagon” to later becoming Chrysler’s very first minivan, the Town and Country has redefined how American families would travel for almost 75 years now.
Even though the word ‘minivan’ now inspires a sort of cringe-worthy reaction in a number of young parents these days, it wasn’t always so. In fact, it wasn’t even long ago when a minivan was the most acceptable and comfortable form of transportation for your family. Your Chrysler dealership in Miami remembers. It’s fun to look back and remember such a celebrated part of our American families.
History tells us that it was Volkswagon who first introduced the idea of a microbus in the 60’s for vehicular transportation of larger groups of people. In the 70’s it was Ford and Chevy who brought to life the ‘Van’ and gave us even more room to maneuver, fit cargo and sleeping bags or do whatever in the back.
By the time the 1980’s were upon America, Chrysler was starting to realize a new fashion for the van by making it more ‘car like’. Much like the crossovers have done with the SUV, Chrysler wanted something that was going to provide the room of the van but drive more like a car.
In 1984 Chrysler introduced two vans made just for families: the Dodge Caravan and the Plymouth Voyager. Both belonging to the Chrysler family, they were designed to be more family friendly than its predecessors.
The Caravan was made to fit where the other vans that were popular couldn’t: the garage. Being shorter in stature, these front wheel drive Caravans fit securely into carports and garages across America which immediately placed them into the homes and hearts of moms and dads everywhere.
With a limited amount of power breathing through these Caravans, a 2.2L 8 valve 4 cylinder engine produced only 101 horsepower.
Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan
While both the Plymouth Voyager and the Dodge Caravan were both part of the Chrysler family, they were two separate vans, though the only real noticeable difference is cosmetic.
Styling was nothing that was too over the top for these minivans as they were the start of the conservative family vehicle where safety and were paramount. One sliding rear door allowed for more room to get in and out of the van safely.
Two captains chairs replaced the driver and front passenger’s seats. One, bench seats replaced the rear seats. Comfort was more of a suggestion, given you weren’t sandwiched between your two annoying cousins during the long family road trip.
The third row seating that is now so coveted was optional back then with another bench seat, but this virtually eliminated any extra cargo space. A simple but decorative wood panel wrapped around the exterior of the minivan just to break up the monotony of the coloring on the large redesigned ‘box car’.
Chrysler Town and Country
Even though the Chrysler Town and Country had already been in existence since 1941 taking on a variety of shapes over the years, it was always Chrysler’s family car. In 1990, Chrysler brought it back now in the form of a minivan.
It was to become Chrysler’s first luxury minivan. As a first to introduce a truck like vehicle into their luxury segment, Chrysler was setting the stage for what would inevitably become the luxury SUV segment and would end up dominating sales only twenty years later.
This new Chrysler Town and Country started with a Mitsubishi built 3.0L V6 engine offering 150 horsepower which was significantly better than the Voyager or Caravan.
By the time the second generation came around, competition with other brands was growing due the success of the Plymouth Voyager, Dodge Caravan and now Chrysler Town and Country.
The redesign of the second generation was directly the result of buyer feedback. More storage in glove box, cup holders, more cushiony, comfortable seating; the idea was to become more user friendly.
It was now 1991 and front and side airbags were finally be utilized in Chrysler’s minivans. Competition was fierce and everyone was playing it conservative, but then, this was during the reign of Bush Sr.
The 10th anniversary of their minivan in December of 1993, Chrysler sold its four millionth unit.
By the time the third generation was to come around in the mid and late 1990’s, Chrysler had played it so conservative with their minivan that still very minimal changes were being made. Slight upgrades were given to the engines, chassis and design.
More aesthetically pleasing redesigns took place in the interior but what had buyers all excited was the addition of a second sliding door on the drivers side, now as well.
The Fourth Generation
The new generation of Chrysler’s Town and Country minivan hit just in time for the new millennium. Though sales were down across the board, Chrysler was figuring ways to stay on top. Competition was still strong though not as many brands were competing.
One thing the Town and Country had going for it was its quality of ride. While other brands were a bit newer to the minivan world, Chrysler had this equation down and knew how to create a luxury vehicle with a luxury drive.
One driver said about the Town and Country, “it is big, but it doesn’t feel like it”, in comparison to other minivans which both are and feel like big.
In the Now: The Fifth Generation
Currently in the Fifth generation, Town and Country comes draped in luxury. Starting in 2008 and still going strong, Chrysler has figured out who’s driving their minivan and exactly what they want.
Providing the best in technological updates, everything from bluetooth connectivity and UConnect service to safety features, the 2015 Town and Country is an example of a brand who has figured it out. There is no where else to go in luxury fit and comfort.
Don’t just take my word for it. The 2015 Town and Country has already won a whole host of awards and accolades in numerous categories.
The 2015 Award Winning Chrysler Town and Country
J.D. Power and Associates – Highest Ranked Minivan in Initial Quality for the second year in a row. This study is based on the first 90 days of ownership. The test is taken by owners of the vehicle who then rate problems and improvements.
Consumer Digest – Chrysler’s Town and Country ranked it a “Best Buy”. This is based off a best value for the money in its respective class. Consumer Digest concept of value is rated by car’s purchase price and ownership cost.
IHS Automotive – For 14 Years, Winner of Polk Automotive Loyalty Award in Minivan category. As the only fact-based awards conducted on owner loyalty, it stands alone in the automotive industry.
Detroit News – 10th Year in a Row, the 2015 Town and Country is ranked “Best Family Hauler”. Picked by the Detroit News Readers for being the only minivan in its category that has second row seats which can be folded down and stowed away in floor bins, dual screen Blu-ray and DVD Video entertainment systems along with 5 years of roadside assistance.
Texas Auto Writers Association- dubbed the 2013 and 2014 “Minivan of Texas” and the “Best Family Car of Texas” for 2014. After a day of driving all three Chrysler products at the Texas Motor Speedway, journalists awarded Chrysler 6 of 19 awards, which was the most of any manufacturer.
Congratulations to Chrysler for providing 90 years of excellence in the automotive industry!