When Dodge redesigned its minivans for 2005, the shorter-wheelbase version, called the Caravan, missed out on many of the new features that highlighted its larger Grand Caravan brother. Instead, Dodge promoted the standard Caravan's price as its most attractive selling point. In fact, the four-cylinder Caravan SE was billed as the lowest-priced minivan on the market. Dodge also offers a Caravan SXT, equipped with a 3.3-liter V-6, as well as a Cargo Van model.
Built on a platform like the Grand Caravan's, the regular Caravan comes on a shorter, 113.3-inch wheelbase. Standard-length Chrysler Town & Country minivans are similar to Dodge's models but have more upscale interior appointments.
New for 2006 are a BeltAlert system for both front occupants and a loose-fuel-cap warning. A newly available DVD radio plays CDs, MP3 CDs and DVDs.
Dodge's familiar crosshair grille sits up front and has a U-shaped design with black bars. That grille is similar to the one on the Dodge Magnum wagon. The front fascia contains a molded license plate pocket and fog lamps.
Aluminum wheels hold 16-inch tires on SXT minivans, while SE models roll on 15-inch steel wheels. Power operation for the passenger-side sliding door is optional on the SXT edition.
All Caravan passenger minivans seat seven occupants. Super High Density Foam, developed by NASA for the space program, is used in the minivan's seats.
Dual-zone air conditioning, a rear defroster system, tilt steering wheel, heated power mirrors, sunscreen glass, power door locks and keyless illuminated entry are standard on the SXT. The SE model is less abundantly equipped, but options are available. Power-adjustable pedals are optional.
Cargo volume behind the rear seat is 15.1 cubic feet. With all seats removed, the Caravan holds 142.3 cubic feet of cargo. Caravans are 189.3 inches long overall, whereas the Grand Caravan measures 200.5 inches in length. Both minivans are 68.9 inches high to the top of the roof rack.
Under the Hood
The Caravan can be equipped with either a 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 3.3-liter V-6 that develops 180 hp and 210 pounds-feet of torque. Each engine works with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes are optional only on the SXT. Side curtain-type airbags are optional in the SE and SXT. An inflatable knee blocker helps protect the driver.