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Patch Drives: 4 Kids, a Lot of Love and Maybe a Town & Country Minivan

This week I just might have driven THE one. You know how it is when you just know?

So I am starting to feel a little like Goldilocks.

This car is too big. This car is too small. These leather seats are too soft.

Okay, I never said that. It’s been a long road of testing, driving, braking, synching, car looping and more. All in search of the perfect car for my larger-than-average family of six.

I’ve come a long way, baby, since my first test drive (a Ford Flex) so many weeks ago. I’ve been impressed with hands-free technology, reverse-sensing systems, those amazing leather seats and more.  

But this week I just might have driven THE one: a Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L Minivan. You know how it is when you just know? 

Boy meets girl

When I met my husband we fell madly in love and we knew it was different. I knew he was the one.

We lived in different states, he was younger than me and way too conservative. I dated guys with tattoos and one, or two earrings. I dated guys in a band.  My future husband wore khakis and was a teacher.  

“He’s the one,” I told my friends two weeks after meeting him. They were concerned for my sanity, but also didn’t take me too seriously.   

“I’m serious: I can see myself marrying this guy and having a family and living on a farm,” I continued in full-on I’m-so-in-love giddiness. Obviously a little out of my mind, because khakis are one thing, but living on a farm? That was a bit extreme even for "in-love" me. But I knew. 

I felt completely comfortable and certain.

After three months of dating, I quit my job, sublet my apartment and moved to Michigan to be with the one. Within two years we bought a house, got a dog, got married and had a baby. Now, 14 years and three more kids later, I feel happier than I could’ve imagined.

Love all around

Just like dating (or marrying) a guy in khakis, driving a minivan has never been something I aspired to do. But just like that guy, the minivan can be surprisingly exciting.  (Yes I am comparing my husband to a Town & Country Minivan. Don’t worry: he’s cool with it.) 

For this test drive, we dropped in and surprised the dealership with our fun Patch Drives project.  The staff at was beyond helpful and up for anything.

Mike Paparelli took the time to tell me about the minivan, and we actually talked about a lot more.  He wasn’t hurrying me out and on my way. And he was no stranger to working with busy families and seemed to understand what it was like to travel around with a bunch of kids. He didn’t talk down to me or make my job as mother feel unimportant.   

And to top off the amazing service, the dealership followed me on Twitter.  They really saw me. Thank you @SubCollection.

Okay, what about the car?

I was surprised how nice it was. How roomy it was. How affordable it was.

It had every feature I covet: phone-synching, dual DVD players, adjustable pedals. It had every feature I need: space for four growing kids and their sports equipment, good gas mileage, rear parking assist, sliding doors and more.

My co-star (or constant sidekick) during this journey has been my giant purse.  I might be interested in downsizing my vehicle, but I have no interest in downsizing my bag.  One complaint my husband has had for years is that there is no place to put my purse when we are driving or traveling together. This really annoys my sweet, khaki-loving husband. I never put this request on the top of my must-have list, but when I saw that the Town & Country has a spot for my purse it just made it so much more the one.

The adjustable console slides back, giving enough space for the kids to walk by to get out in the back and enough space for me to set my giant purse.   

When I drove the minivan around town, to the grocery store, to the car loop, to practice and back to the car loop, it felt comfortable. It felt right.  It felt like the one.   

It wasn’t boring, and I wasn’t settling. It just fit. I feel pretty comfortable and confident that this could be the one. 

The lowdown

Let’s see how the Town & Country Touring-L Minivan measures up with my checklist:

  • Was there chemistry? Not heart-pounding, over-the-top, have-to-drive-this-or-I-will-die passion. More like an overwhelming sense of security and happiness kind of feeling. It was a good thing.
  • Appearance?  I loved the sleek design and dark navy color. The interior was classy, yet comfortable. I particularly loved the non-digital clock in the middle of the console.  
  • Lifestyle?  I wouldn’t have to adjust anything for this van. There was enough space for my kids and for my kids to get bigger. The dual DVD players (which can play different movies by the way — love that feature) are perfect for our long trips to see family in Kentucky and Alabama every summer. The trunk space is perfect for baseball and hockey bags that we lug everywhere.  
  • Affordability?  By far the most affordable car I’ve driven for all the fun and practical features. The van I drove was a 2012 Town & Country Touring-L for $34,225. Base price for this vehicle was $32,495.

When I married the love of my life, I knew he was the one.  I knew our life might seem bland and boring to some, but to others it was the American dream: four kids, a lot of love and maybe, just maybe, a Town & Country minivan. 

Angela shopped for her Town & Country at . It is located on Maplelawn between Crooks and Maple in Troy. The dealership is open 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday and Thursday; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

To build your own Town & Country or to check on the inventory at a dealer near you, visit www.chrysler.com.

There are lots of opinions about the Town & Country; browse the blogs of what other auto writers have had to say. Also, visit autos.aol.com

Patch Drives is . The cars Youngblood chooses to test will be at her discretion and not affiliated with any advertising relationships.

Follow Angela Youngblood at www.JumpingWithMyFingersCrossed.com.

Cristian Teodoridis June 07, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Great minivans! We had 5 vans, both Town and Country and Grand Caravans. The best, most versatile family vehicles. Stow 'n Go is not available on any other vehicle. I definitely recommend them.
Erin June 08, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Congrats Angela! Thanks for taking us along for the "ride". It really has been helpful to many moms.
Paula Moore June 08, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I started driving T&C's in the 80's when my son & daughter were young...here I am 30+ years later still with a minvan. They are awesome, great gas milage & lots of room for everything. We use it more than any car we have ever owned. My 2004 has 170,000 miles and looks & runs well!
Sherry June 08, 2012 at 05:04 PM
When I read your story I was giddy for you. Kinda like when your good friend finds a good guy to date and they become "serious," and all her friends like him!!! The deep trunk, and stow and go are AWESOME-- and the 3rd row seat that flips for tailgating will be great for all your sporting events!!! Good Luck.
Kara Q June 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Love the Town and Country!! PS...Chrysler is not dropping the T&C front the line-up.m They are dropping the caravan for 2013.

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