Gallery: I Went to Hawaii to Drive a Minivan


Well, that not exactly how things started but that’s kind of what happened. A rare opportunity sprang up, and I found myself in the beautiful state of Hawaii, all thanks to my sister-in-law’s job. Sparing the gory details, we were suddenly faced with family vacation on the island of Oahu, on Waikiki Beach for 7 nights. While the thought of being trapped with one’s in-laws might be enough to ruin any tropical resort, I can report that the trip was a success and no one was hurt – and a large part of the success was due to the Chrysler Town & Country we rented. Yes, I just gave props to a minivan.

As you may know, prior to the Chrysler Town & Country name being resurrected as a companion to the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, the T&C started out life as a true woody wagon and even was offered as a coupe, sedan and a stylish convertible (1947-50) before becoming a permanent fixture in the station wagon segment all the way until 1988. Today, of course, the Town & Country is strictly the thing of soccer moms. Right? Well, sure. And a whole lot more, but I digress.


Now, I’m guessing many of you are wondering why a minivan made our vacation a success. Some family members with health concerns and a tendency towards motion sickness mixed with a mid-size car or even an SUV, can make for a lot of very unhappy passengers. Although our rental was merely the second rung of T&C’s available six trim packages (LX, Touring, Town & Country S, Touring-L, Limited and Limited Platinum), the minivan is spacious, offers comfortable seating and great ride quality. It has been years since I have been in a minivan and wow how they have changed.

To start off, the Town & Country comes standard with four captains chairs (with a rear bench). The one-touch Stow ‘n Go second-row seats reclined and could be slid forward or back. Even the rear bench seat reclined, with plenty of leg room to stretch out and get comfortable. Speaking of which, although we never needed to fold the seats down flat, we could use the Stow ‘n Go compartments as extra hidden storage for camera bags, purses, etc., when we were at the typical tourist traps. The standard remote keyless entry and the power lift gate also made loading/unloading the rear cargo area a snap.

Another bit of standardized luxury was the Chrysler’s tri-zone climate control, which made a huge difference in keeping several passengers happy with fan and temperature controls in the middle row and back seats. The vents in the ceiling are adjustable with the option of closing them off to suit your needs.

As you probably guessed, with taking pictures and hiking all week, we had multiple phones die throughout the day. Everywhere we looked there seemed to be a USB port – ironically, we all packed our charging cables but no one thought to bring a car charger. Not only were they abundant, but they were placed in convenient spots. There’s even a 110-volt plug for larger items like cameras, tablets, notebooks, etc.


Along with USB ports, they had multiple headphone jacks for the satellite radio (with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls), and the overhead DVD screen. We didn’t use the DVD player but is ideal if you had younger kids that needed to be entertained.

I noticed that the parking situation at the aforementioned tourist traps has gotten worse. I swear they make the parking spots smaller. Once again the T&C came to the rescue with its back up camera displaying on a dash-mounted 6.5-in touchscreen, and double power-sliding doors for easy entrance and exit from either side. Speaking of which, the last time I was in a minivan there was only one door, it weighed 500lbs and you had to manually open it. But that is no more, now that both sides slide open with the push of a button.

Undoubtedly, the best thing about Hawaii is the view. The gorgeous coastline and breathtaking mountains in every direction. Oahu is beautiful, and you certainly don’t want to miss a thing between destinations. Not only was the visibility out of the van great, but from every seat in any direction. And on top of all of these incredible features you get the Pentastar V6 at just under 300 ponies and towing capacity of 3600-pounds! Not too bad for a grocery-getter, especially considering it out-produces some famous LA motors.

While its 17-inch alloy wheels, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth for phone and audio, Chrysler’s Uconnect system and other features are great on their own, its the sum total that made the Town & Country a great choice for a wonderful vacation in Hawaii. Sure, we could have saved a bit of money by getting a smaller vehicle that still seated 5 adults but I could not imagine enjoying vacation like we did in any less of a vehicle.

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Gavin Wollenburg

Gavin grew up around Mopars in his lakeside home in Ohio, his father showing him nearly everything he needed to know about haulin' some serious rear in his '72 Dart Swinger. Since then, he's made his little A-Body a serious autocross contender and regularly shows the modern boys how an old Dart does it!

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