Home2012 Los Angeles Auto Show
Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2012 LA Auto Show
Chrysler Town & Country S

What is it? The Town & Country minivan receives the “S” treatment that initially adorned the brand’s 200 and 300 model-line cars. What does the “S” version get you? The company’s information calls it “modern style” and “modern design.” (What it doesn’t explain is what the non-S models should be considered, if not modern…)

Looking beyond the hype, the “S” has exterior and interior enhancements, as well as some standard equipment commonly associated with top-line models. Translation: They gussied up the minivan with fancy trim pieces including “S” model badges, polished 17-inch wheels, and blacked-out headlight bezels.

Mechanically, the S vans have a “performance” suspension aimed to improve handling without creaming the ride. The standard powertrain remains the 3.6-liter V6 engine, good for  283 horsepower, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Inside you’ll find unique black leather seats, Piano Black gloss trim on the instrument panel and on the spokes of the black leather-wrapped steering wheel, and other “black” touches that the company figures will somehow brighten your day.

What is new or notable? The S Town & Country will have a “segment-exclusive” dual-screen Blu-ray DVD system with HDMI input, two USB recharging ports, a 12-volt outlet, and a 115-volt two-prong outlet. New for 2013, the system allows rear-seat passengers to view DVDs or to play a high-definition video game system on the higher definition screens. Wireless headphones allow parents some peace while rear-seat gamers attempt to collect all the coins in Super Mario Bros. or become heroes in Call of Duty. Also, 2013 models come with standard trailer sway damping, which automatically uses ABS system to mitigate any swaying motions.

CR’s take: Our last T&C tests proved that the current model still has a ways to go to reach the status of the best minivans, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. The V6 is polished and powerful enough, but the transmission is a generation behind. Its 17 mpg overall is nothing special, either. This upscale edition is unlikely to change these shortcomings, although the upgraded suspension on the S might improve handling, which we called “sound enough but not very agile even by minivan standards” on our last tested model.

When will it be available? Price and on-sale date have not been announced.

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