When I'm running late, I get really speedy. I pick up the pace, stomp around and mix it all with a dollop of fluster. What inevitably winds up happening is I forget stuff, or I mutter. I can be seen with a clenched jaw muttering unfinished sentences like, "Why can't we just..." and "Why is it so hard..." and "Someday I'll get out of the house... ." These things are usually said to myself or my poor family. During my most recent test drive, though, I found myself saying them to the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan.
Now, before I go on, I should mention that I'm a bit rushed writing this. I know you all want to know about cupholders and storage and seating and all of that. Not being one to disappoint, I will tell you the Caravan doesn't disappoint either. There's cupholders (illuminated and otherwise) and storage galore, underfloor bins, overhead bins, Stow 'N Go, Swivel 'N Go (which, FYI, doesn't stow), deep bins in the cargo area so there's lots of room behind the third row, blah blah blah. Dodge is a champ at this storage business, people. I'd quote numbers here, but you can just look in the Specs section at the bottom of the review. Or check out a side-by-side comparison with last year's model here. Hey, are your shoes on yet?
Really quick, let me talk a bit about the Grand Caravan's interior. It's rather space-shuttley with its boxy, line-y interior design. This square theme abounds in other Dodge models; it's not exactly warm and inviting, but the utilitarianism is OK. As in, it probably wouldn't get bent out of shape if it got some mud on it. Or spilled juice boxes and goldfish crackers.
The Swivel 'N Go feature for the second row captain's chairs is fun, but once again let me remind you that kids in any kind of car seat can only ride in those chairs when they're facing forward. Unless, that is, you purchase the integrated booster. The third-row bench sits at a weird angle and doesn't do backless boosters very well; the belt wouldn't sit flush against my kids' chests. I'll let you tell me how popular you think I was with my kids when I told them they couldn't ride back there. And also, I'm glad to see your shoes are on, but can you also get your backpack and wait by the door? The door to the garage, yes. Please.
As fun as it is, I'm not sure how great Swivel 'N Go really is. I told the kids they could have a picnic in the Caravan, so we turned the second-row seats to face the back and got the little table all set up, just like in the commercials. They had a ball. But the next morning, while running late to preschool, I remembered that my daughter probably shouldn't ride in the third row, and to get the second-row seats turned around I needed to take the table down. I got the table top off just fine, but I couldn't get the base detached. The dang thing would not budge. Sensing an opportunity while I was working on this table-removing project, my daughter, Claudia, handily put her booster seat on the third-row bench and buckled in. Trying to talk her back into the second row was just asking for an argument I didn't want to have - and one that was irrelevant anyway with the table still in place. I found myself clenching and muttering, "It's just a table for Pete's sake..." and "Why did I put the dang table up anyway? Who needs a picnic in the car?" Suffice to say, the novelty wasn't worth the drama to me. Wait, why did you take your shoes off? You know we have to go.
And the muttering didn't stop there. If there's anything that makes me crazy, it's a navigation system that's hard to use. If a system isn't as simple and easy as can be, I'd prefer there not be one at all. The Grand Caravan's nav and entertainment systems are a pain in the neck. I've driven several Dodges with the same system, and every time I end up making the same errors over and over as I relearn the right way again. Things like, "All I want is to know the name of the song..." and "I don't understand why it's so hard to just find the dumb..." frequently escape my clenched jaw. Now, where are my keys?
OK, on my way out the door, let me just mention the Grand Caravan's nice ride, which is much improved from years before. Also, for as big as it is, it parks quite easily, and I must admit I'm becoming a lover of automatic sliding doors. Those made me happy, along with the Grand Caravan's power liftgate. I just wish everything else didn't leave my jaw clenched. Hey! I didn't say to open the liftgate! Quit pushing all the buttons, can we just get in the car and go? No, we can't watch SpongeBob on the way to school!
*For more information on the 2008 Dodge Caravan and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 7
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times
2008 Dodge Caravan
Base price: $27,140
Price as tested: $37,405
Engine: 251-hp, 4.0-liter V-6
Fuel: 16/23 mpg
Ground Clearance: 6.1"
Turning Radius: 19.7'
Cargo space: 32.3-140.6 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: 5 Stars
Passenger's side: 5 Stars
Front occupant: 5 Stars
Rear occupant: 5 Stars
Rollover resistance: 4 Stars
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||October 24, 2007|
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|Sara Lacey||Mother Proof||March 24, 2008|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||January 19, 2008|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||January 19, 2008|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||August 31, 2007|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||August 19, 2007|
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