Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

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ReedMan
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Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by ReedMan » Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:07 am

It's not easy to travel 6 hours with twins and a 60lb. dog in a full-size sedan. It's time for a minivan!

My wife and I got a sitter one day and test drove all of the modern minivans. Though many friends really like their Hondas or Toyotas, we came to a quick consensus on the Town & Country. Mostly based on interior design and features for the buck. We did not enjoy the interior space of the Honda and Toyota at all.

Consumer Reports however does not recommend any T&C through '12, and probably not enough data on the '13. I also spoke with my mechanic and he didn't like the idea of the T&C either. He didn't site experience, but his workers have attended seminars which said their engines have design flaws and present potential issues. We have not found his sited engine issue in online research.

Does any Boglehead have experience with the 2013 Town & Country, good or bad?

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bottlecap
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by bottlecap » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:01 am

Realistically, you can assume it will have a similar reliability as the previous few years. Has there been a redesign to suggest otherwise? In any event, the problems on a 2013 aren't likely to have cropped up this early in its lifespan.

JT

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deanbrew
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by deanbrew » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:41 am

ReedMan wrote:My wife and I got a sitter one day and test drove all of the modern minivans. Though many friends really like their Hondas or Toyotas, we came to a quick consensus on the Town & Country. Mostly based on interior design and features for the buck. We did not enjoy the interior space of the Honda and Toyota at all.

Consumer Reports however does not recommend any T&C through '12, and probably not enough data on the '13. I also spoke with my mechanic and he didn't like the idea of the T&C either. He didn't site experience, but his workers have attended seminars which said their engines have design flaws and present potential issues. We have not found his sited engine issue in online research.

Does any Boglehead have experience with the 2013 Town & Country, good or bad?
I'm curious what you didn't like with the Honda and Toyota interiors. Was it the amount of space, the configuration/design or the materials? We drove the Honda, Toyota and Chrysler vans last year and bought a Honda Odyssey. IMO, it drove the best (most car-like) and had the most usable interior room. The stow-and-go seats in the Chrysler is a great design in terms of flexibility, but we found them to be less comfortable than either the Sienna or Odyssey. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, but I'm curious about your perceptions of each.

As for reliability and dependability, I don't know that anyone can seriously argue that the Chrysler ranks with Honda or Toyota. Frankly, and again in my opinion, it takes a leap of faith to buy a Chrysler and keep it well past the warranty period. That's not to say you can't get a good one that holds up. Hopefully, you do. Given the depreciation that Chrysler vehicles typically experience, I would be more inclined to buy one that is a year or two old (well cared for and with few miles), letting the original buyer eat the huge first year's depreciation. The opposite holds true of a Honda or Toyota.
"The course of history shows that as the government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

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ReedMan
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by ReedMan » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:11 am

deanbrew wrote:
I'm curious what you didn't like with the Honda and Toyota interiors. Was it the amount of space, the configuration/design or the materials? We drove the Honda, Toyota and Chrysler vans last year and bought a Honda Odyssey. IMO, it drove the best (most car-like) and had the most usable interior room. The stow-and-go seats in the Chrysler is a great design in terms of flexibility, but we found them to be less comfortable than either the Sienna or Odyssey. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, but I'm curious about your perceptions of each.
For both of us, it was the way the interior felt. Design of the dash, plus the standard features (dual climate zone, power sliding doors, stowing 2nd row). At the price point that we are looking the Honda/Toyota looked bare. The slightly older models that may have more features also comes with more milage.


We have some time and it is safe to assume the stock of used cars will be different when we are able to purchase. I suppose we will reconsider once we have a more clear view of the budget and what is available when we can purchase. But we are certainly looking for a used (or CPO) year or 2 old model with fewer milage.

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by TRC » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:03 pm

Honda Odyssey Owner here (5 years now). I've rented a Town & Country a few times in Orlando and I can sum it up the driving experience like this:

- Chrysler Town & Country drives like a Bus.
- Honda Odyssey drives like a car.

The Consumer Reviews of the 2013 Chrysler T&C aren't stellar: http://www.edmunds.com/chrysler/town-an ... =minivanCh

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by mike143 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:15 pm

Why not its stripped down brother (Dodge Grand Caravan)? Also check out the new generation Nissan Rogue for pricing near the Dodge Grand Caravan, it is nicer and larger than the outgoing and still offered Rogue (Select). Also better gas mileage than vans. Comparison between a Caravan and Rogue: http://www.cars.com/go/compare/trimComp ... 40NIS111A0
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enc0re
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by enc0re » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:16 pm

I have no experience with minivans. But I want to point out that for your needs (4 humans + 1 dog), a station wagon may also be a good option. It makes it a little easier to segregate the dog in the back if you use a net or metal divider.

Of course, buy what you like. I just wouldn't want you to overlook the option.

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Kenkat
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by Kenkat » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:22 pm

I would very much agree with deanbrew about the comfort of the 2nd row stow and go seats in the Town and Country. Too low to the floor and very flat and short, so not very good back support either.

I also bought an Odyssey this spring. Our previous van was a 2002 Dodge Caravan. Mechanically, it was very reliable for 10 years - although it was reasonably low miles (90k or so in that time). After 10 years, we began to have some mechanical issues, including a complete transmission replacement at around 10-1/2 years. In spite of that, I still would say I was pretty satisfied with the mechanical reliability overall.

The original Caravan had two captain's chairs in the second row that were extremely comfortable - the downside being that they had to be removed, along with the 3rd row seat at 100+ pounds. However, we rarely needed to remove the 2nd row seats and just learned to plan ahead with the 3rd row seat.

When it came time to replace, I really couldn't see taking any kind of long trip with full size people in those stow and go seats. The trade off in comfort was not worth the convenience to me of being able to fold down the 2nd row seats. It was a deal breaker for us.

The Dodge/Chrysler vans are priced right, but having driven both, the Honda is much quieter and smoother to drive in my opinion. I will also add that at least last spring, Honda was discounting the Odyssey pretty heavily. I bought an EX model, which includes power doors, dual climate control, etc., and it was discounted almost $5k below sticker. It did seem that the used Odysseys were priced pretty high to the point of "why not just buy a new one", so a 2013 Chrysler might provide a good deal.

I do agree the Chrysler products represent a good value and it was not an easy decision for us, but just passing along the reasons why we ended up with a Honda when it came time to replace.

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by deanbrew » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:51 pm

ReedMan wrote:We have some time and it is safe to assume the stock of used cars will be different when we are able to purchase. I suppose we will reconsider once we have a more clear view of the budget and what is available when we can purchase. But we are certainly looking for a used (or CPO) year or 2 old model with fewer milage.
I didn't register that you were looking at used vehicles. It should have, since you indicated a 2013 model. Any new vehicles would almost certainly be either 2014 or 2015 versions. Since you are looking at used, I suspect the best value would be a Dodge or Chrysler. I've never found much value in buying a used Honda or Toyota (or Subaru). Though I am not usually a fan of extended warranties, depending on the age of the van you find, you might want to consider an extended warranty. Look online before you start signing paperwork, though. Extended warranties can usually be bought online for much less than what your friendly local seller will offer.
"The course of history shows that as the government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by jeffmete » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:53 pm

We bought our first dodge minivan back in 1985 and are on our 6th one. We sell at 150,000-200,000 miles. A couple bought new the rest used. They depreciate pretty fast so if you buy used, they are pretty cheap transportation even all decked out. Anymore the reliability of foreign and domestic is almost indistinguishable (They all use the same supply base). Our current van, 2008 with 116,000 miles, has been an anvil, nothing but tires, one battery and one set of brakes. Plus this one we bought new and in 08 Chrysler was going bankrupt and they offered lifetime warranty on drivetrain ( including axles). So I figure I'm going to have Chrysler begging me to sell it at around 250K miles. I will say that people are correct the second row store and go seats are not very comfortable so I would opt for just the rear bench stow option. Plus this van is decidedly louder than our previous van. Honda and toyota certainly come a long way and the new ones are the right size and pretty nice vehicles. My experience everytime we look is there has been a hefty premium to buy Japanese over the Chrysler/dodge/Plymouth vans.

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by angelescrest » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:22 pm

I do like the Toyota better, but it's very true that you can get a Chrysler minivan for much, much less. It just depends on what you're willing to pay for, so seems like a fair split. If you like the car, and are willing to take a slightly lower hit on reliability, then go for it.

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by mike143 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:37 am

boroc7 wrote:I do like the Toyota better, but it's very true that you can get a Chrysler minivan for much, much less. It just depends on what you're willing to pay for, so seems like a fair split. If you like the car, and are willing to take a slightly lower hit on reliability, then go for it.
The lowest trim level Sienna sells for a few grand less than the lowest trim level T&C.

Here is a autotrader.com search of new 2014 Toyota Sienna L under $24k: http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale ... 2014&Log=0
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by ReedMan » Tue Aug 12, 2014 3:52 pm

deanbrew wrote:
I didn't register that you were looking at used vehicles. It should have, since you indicated a 2013 model. Any new vehicles would almost certainly be either 2014 or 2015 versions. Since you are looking at used, I suspect the best value would be a Dodge or Chrysler. I've never found much value in buying a used Honda or Toyota (or Subaru). Though I am not usually a fan of extended warranties, depending on the age of the van you find, you might want to consider an extended warranty. Look online before you start signing paperwork, though. Extended warranties can usually be bought online for much less than what your friendly local seller will offer.
We liked the T&C over Dodge because it has more standard features which we are willing to pay for (power side doors) However, it appears that feature isn't standard on Honda/Toyota. We need a minivan, not a SUV or wagon for practicality (kids are only 1) plus it'll be easier in our garage to get in and out.

I am not a fan of extended warranties either and had no idea you can buy them 3rd party online. Where?

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by deanbrew » Tue Aug 12, 2014 4:07 pm

ReedMan wrote:
deanbrew wrote:
I didn't register that you were looking at used vehicles. It should have, since you indicated a 2013 model. Any new vehicles would almost certainly be either 2014 or 2015 versions. Since you are looking at used, I suspect the best value would be a Dodge or Chrysler. I've never found much value in buying a used Honda or Toyota (or Subaru). Though I am not usually a fan of extended warranties, depending on the age of the van you find, you might want to consider an extended warranty. Look online before you start signing paperwork, though. Extended warranties can usually be bought online for much less than what your friendly local seller will offer.
We liked the T&C over Dodge because it has more standard features which we are willing to pay for (power side doors) However, it appears that feature isn't standard on Honda/Toyota. We need a minivan, not a SUV or wagon for practicality (kids are only 1) plus it'll be easier in our garage to get in and out.

I am not a fan of extended warranties either and had no idea you can buy them 3rd party online. Where?
The power side doors are standard once you move up a bit in trim level on the Odyssey. Only the LX Odyssey lacks power doors; moving up to the EX and above brings those along. I'm not as familiar with Toyota, but my quick review on edmunds.com makes it look like all trim levels have power sliding doors. I could be wrong.

As for the warranty, a google search of "chrysler extended warranty" turns up pages of possibilities. It will probably take some digging to figure out who to buy from. You might be well served to look at the bulletin boards on edmunds (http://forums.edmunds.com/), as well as Chrysler owner forums to get more guidance. I would make sure you buy a "genuine" manufacturer warranty and not a third-party warranty.
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by Mursili » Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:04 pm

I highly recommend power sliding doors. We got the lowest trim level Odyssey back in '01 (which we still like a lot), but its largest issue is getting the sliding doors open if they are sticking on the gaskets. When we replace this vehicle, we will get one with power doors.
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by pamela.day » Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:53 am

When I was looking for minivan, the T&C was what I had looked into, but researching on the different models and years, I pretty much pushed that to the side because of the issues. I would recommend a Dodge Caravan or Honda Odyssey, but research on the year and model to see which one would work out better in the long run. Good luck!

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by kingsnake » Fri Aug 15, 2014 10:21 am

2012 Honda Odyssey with automatic sliding door and bach hatch. Has been awesome for us so far. Do not spring for the CD player on the ceiling thing...we bought two handheld DVD players for 40 bucks a piece and some decent headphones, and the kids can take those on an airplane or inside the house too!

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by yolli71 » Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:31 am

ReedMan -- We were in the market for a minivan in 2012. We didn't consider the T&C b/c my wife said she wanted a reliable Japanese vehicle (not to imply that T&C is unreliable).

After looking at and test driving the main options, we elected to go with the Nissan Quest. I know Nissan isn't as popular as the Honda or Toyota, but we really love the minivan. Have you considered this option at all?

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by 12thman » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:13 pm

jeffmete wrote:We bought our first dodge minivan back in 1985 and are on our 6th one. We sell at 150,000-200,000 miles. A couple bought new the rest used. They depreciate pretty fast so if you buy used, they are pretty cheap transportation even all decked out. Anymore the reliability of foreign and domestic is almost indistinguishable (They all use the same supply base). Our current van, 2008 with 116,000 miles, has been an anvil, nothing but tires, one battery and one set of brakes. Plus this one we bought new and in 08 Chrysler was going bankrupt and they offered lifetime warranty on drivetrain ( including axles). So I figure I'm going to have Chrysler begging me to sell it at around 250K miles. I will say that people are correct the second row store and go seats are not very comfortable so I would opt for just the rear bench stow option. Plus this van is decidedly louder than our previous van. Honda and toyota certainly come a long way and the new ones are the right size and pretty nice vehicles. My experience everytime we look is there has been a hefty premium to buy Japanese over the Chrysler/dodge/Plymouth vans.
I agree with jeffmete. We bought a 2004 Chrysler T&C for $9000 with 45k miles in 2008. Today, it has 168k miles. We did not get a warranty and have had no major issues with it. When we were buying we considered the Sienna and Odyssey and both were nearly double the price of the caravans and T&C's. Consumer Reports ranked the T&C below the Honda and Toyota but what does that really mean? It feels like Consumer reports has to split hairs to inform you what car is best. Its not like the poor ranked cars are lined up on the side of the freeway with mechanical issues.

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by deanbrew » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:58 pm

12thman wrote:We bought a 2004 Chrysler T&C for $9000 with 45k miles in 2008. Today, it has 168k miles. We did not get a warranty and have had no major issues with it. When we were buying we considered the Sienna and Odyssey and both were nearly double the price of the caravans and T&C's.
Since you were looking at used vehicles, that makes sense. I've never found prices on used Hondas and Toyotas to be compelling. It makes more sense to buy new given the insufficient discount to buy used. Chrylsers, on the other hand, depreciate like crazy, so you can find decent values on used ones, with the original owners eating the steep costs in the first couple of years. Yes, you can buy a new Chrysler for less than a similar Honda, but the price spread widens considerably over the next several years.
Consumer Reports ranked the T&C below the Honda and Toyota but what does that really mean? It feels like Consumer reports has to split hairs to inform you what car is best. Its not like the poor ranked cars are lined up on the side of the freeway with mechanical issues.
No, it's not like every Chrysler is a lemon and every Honda and Toyota is bullet-proof. But there are noticeable differences in driving feel, workmanship, frequency of repair, reliability, etc. on a universal basis. While I agree that CR's auto reliability data is a bit biased since data comes from subscribers (who tend to favor import-badged vehicles), it's overstated to completely dismiss their reviews and reliability data as meaningless.
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ReedMan
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by ReedMan » Fri Aug 15, 2014 5:43 pm

yolli71 wrote:ReedMan -- We were in the market for a minivan in 2012. We didn't consider the T&C b/c my wife said she wanted a reliable Japanese vehicle (not to imply that T&C is unreliable).

After looking at and test driving the main options, we elected to go with the Nissan Quest. I know Nissan isn't as popular as the Honda or Toyota, but we really love the minivan. Have you considered this option at all?
Glad you like the Quest, but my wife dislikes the exterior so much not to even consider it.

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ReedMan
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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by ReedMan » Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:01 pm

DAK wrote:2012 Honda Odyssey with automatic sliding door and bach hatch. Has been awesome for us so far. Do not spring for the CD player on the ceiling thing...we bought two handheld DVD players for 40 bucks a piece and some decent headphones, and the kids can take those on an airplane or inside the house too!
I dig your style, dude.

The entertainment system isn't important to us, but I remember as a child traveling in minivans having a tube TV with VHS for the long trips. I can't imagine how cool it would have been to have dual screens and an HDMI hookup for an xbox, plus wireless headphones (all standard on the 13 t&c, I believe). Maybe my daughter can sit up front and my son and I can do some co-op.

I'm sure we will have multiple iPads to entertain the troops. The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic!

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by chickadee » Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:47 pm

We love our 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan. The stow and go seats were the tipping point, and everyone who has ridden back there says they are comfortable. Not a single problem so far. I agree that we test drove all of the other vans on the market and were unimpressed with the fit and finish of the interiors for the extra money they all cost.

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Re: Minivan time! Opinions on 2013 Town & Country, Please

Post by ClevrChico » Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:03 pm

I rented one last year, and was very impressed. The engine is fantastic too.

I do remember my parent's Chrysler products from the 80's, and it would be very hard to actually buy one as an adult. Quality control seemed non-existent then.

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