Photo courtesy of Chrysler

Bottom line: The Chrysler Town & Country is one of the top three minivans on sale in the United States, including the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Anyone wanting or needing a minivan would do well to consider it.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Good marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: It looks like what it is — a purpose-designed people, dog (or cat) and stuff hauler.

Body style/layout: It is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, high-end minivan with four side doors (swing-out front, sliding side with automatic operating capability) and a rear hatch (also automatic capability). There are three trim levels — Touring, Touring-L and Limited.

Engine: The standard engine is 3.6 liters, gasoline/E85, V-6 with 24 valves and variable valve timing (283 horsepower with 260 foot-pounds of torque). It is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.

Capacities: Seats seven people and at least one big dog. Cargo capacity is 33 cubic feet with second-row and third-row seats up. But with the Town & Country’s available “Stow ‘n’ Go” technology, the second and third rows can be collapsed neatly into the floor, creating a load space of 143.8 cubic feet. Pretty neat! The minivan can be equipped to pull a trailer weighing 3,600 pounds. Fuel capacity is 20 gallons.

Chrysler recommends a 15 percent gasoline/85 percent Ethanol alcohol mix. But that’s mostly a political, green public relations move. The stuff is hard to find. Regular gasoline works fine.

Mileage: We experienced 20 miles per gallon in the city and nearly 24 miles per gallon on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front/solid rear); emergency braking assistance; four-wheel antilock brake protection; electronic brake-force distribution; pre-safe crash collision system; side and head air bags; and high-intensity discharge headlamps in the Limited edition.

Note: Advanced technologies such as blind-spot and lane-change warning are available. They are highly recommended here.

Price: The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan Limited starts at $39,650 with a dealer’s invoice price of $37,674. Price as tested is $43,695, including $3,110 in options (trailer tow package; second-row bucket seats with “Stow ‘n’ Go” option; other luxury equipment such as rear reading lamps) and a $935 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $41,378.