From the Driver's Seat

Despite some notable problems, the Town & Country's driving experience isn't all bad. The Limited model we tested is powered by a 4.0-liter V-6. The most powerful of three V-6 engines offered, it accelerates the van easily from a standstill.

The six-speed automatic transmission makes succinct but smooth upshifts that you barely feel — and it also kicks down quickly for passing, though the power wanes a little at highway speeds. It's not unusual in this regard; it feels about as strong as the Honda Odyssey. Despite being the strongest, this Town & Country drivetrain returns the best gas mileage, with an EPA rating of 17/25 mpg city/highway. That makes it one of the fuel economy leaders among large minivans. Unfortunately, this engine comes only in more expensive trim levels, so you have to spend more now to save more later.

The Town & Country has a softly tuned suspension that's well-suited to minivan duty, where a comfortable ride is key. There are times when the van bobs up and down as if it were on the high seas, but the overall emphasis on comfort is the right one for this type of vehicle. Both the Toyota Sienna and the Odyssey ride more firmly.

Unlike those two, the Town & Country doesn't feel as well put together. There's a general creakiness to the van's structure that's exposed when you're traveling on uneven surfaces, and some things — like the dash-mounted gear selector in particular — have a crude feel and sound that lower the overall quality impression.

The Town & Country's driving position was problematic, which was a little surprising because it was equipped with adjustable pedals. They're designed to help drivers of different sizes get comfortable in the driver's seat, but I couldn't move the pedals far enough away from me. I had to bend my right leg too much when braking. Moving the seat farther back wasn't a viable option because the van's steering wheel doesn't telescope — it only tilts — which made me stretch my arms out farther than I liked. The position of the brake pedal aside, the Town & Country's braking response is easy to control, and the firm pedal feel inspires confidence.

You can, however, sit pretty tall in the Town & Country with the optional power driver's seat. I was level with crossover and SUV drivers.

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