The Grand Caravan and Town & Country twins are the last remaining minivans offered by an American automaker. Unlike GM and Ford, minivan-originator Dodge has held its own against the competitive likes of Honda's Odyssey and Toyota's Sienna. These models sit on one end of the minivan spectrum, with low-cost alternatives like the Kia Sedona at the other.
With last year's redesign, Dodge no longer offers a short-wheelbase Caravan. The Grand Caravan is offered in two trim levels (SE and SXT) with a mind-boggling list of interior, exterior and mechanical options. The Grand Caravan is also offered in a cargo van variant.
New for 2009
The Grand Caravan has an available sport-tuned suspension for improved ride and handling. An updated brake system improves braking performance, and there are newly available blind spot and rear cross-path options.
Dodge really hit the mark with the new styling. It didn't go overboard trying to make it look like something other than a minivan, yet its higher hood, squared-off rear end and the most stealthy sliding side doors we've seen all combine for a presence that's not too far from what passes as a "crossover" SUV nowadays. Grand Caravans measure 202.5 inches long and 78.7 wide, the largest in its competitive set.
- Standard body-colored handles, front/rear bumpers and moldings, with optional body-colored mirrors
- Standard heated/foldaway mirrors
- 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers (SE)
- 16-inch aluminum wheels (SXT)
- 17-inch aluminum wheels (4.0-liter V-6 SXT)
- Optional dual power-sliding doors (standard on SXT)
- Optional power liftgate
The Grand Caravan's maximum seating capacity is seven, which is probably the only truly comfortable, workable number even in vans and SUVs with eight positions. Having succeeded recently in part on the strength of its Stow 'n Go second-row seats — which fold into the floor — Dodge also brings you optional Swivel 'n Go: second-row captain's chairs that rotate 180 degrees to face the third row. The Grand Caravan offers power-folding 60/40-split third-row seats with one-touch operation, up and down. Dodge has integrated dual child seats into the second-row bench, and an optional integrated booster for larger kids is offered with Swivel 'n Go. Neither is available on Stow 'n Go seating.
There are more storage nooks, pockets and bins than ever, including a dual glove compartment. The floor console between the front seats has removable, dishwasher-safe cupholders. An optional console has many sliding drawers that can open individually or together, including from the backseat.
The seats come in three configurations: Standard Stow 'n Go second-row captain's chairs and a 60/40-split manual-fold third row; an optional second-row bench with the manual-fold third row; or Swivel 'n Go second-row captain's chairs that can turn to face the manual-fold third row. A power-folding third row is optional.
While the largest — on the outside — of the group, the Grand Caravan somehow is less roomy on the inside than some of its competitors. Interior passenger volume comes in at 163.5 cubic feet; cargo room with all rows up is 32.3 cubic feet and 144.3 with the second and third rows folded. That's less passenger space than in the Sienna and Odyssey (177.4 and 171.4, respectively) and less maximum cargo space (148.9 and 147.4), but the Grand Caravan does best the admittedly smaller Sedona in both areas.
- Standard Stow 'n Go second-row captain's chairs
- Standard power locks, mirrors, and windows in the front and sliding side doors
- Standard dual glove boxes
- Standard stain-resistant cloth seats (leather optional on SXT)
- Leather-wrapped shifter knob and steering wheel with audio controls (SXT)
- Optional Swivel 'n Go seating
- Optional 9-inch overhead TV monitors for the second and third rows (third-row monitor swivels)
- Optional hands-free communication system and remote start
- Optional voice-activated navigation and/or audio system (including touch-screen, voice commands, 30GB hard drive and navigation radio)
Under the Hood
Grand Caravan comes with three available V-6 engines. The standard 3.3-liter V-6 is a flex-fuel engine that can run on E85 ethanol. That V-6 comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the larger engines come with a six-speed automatic.
For 2009, there is an optional sport-tuned suspension on the high-end SXT; all models get a revised braking system that reduces noise vibration and the harshness of the braking system.
- 175-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 with 205 pounds-feet of torque (SE)
- 197-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 with 230 pounds-feet of torque (SXT)
- 251-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 with 259 pounds-feet of torque (optional on the SXT)
- Four-speed automatic transmission (SE)
- Six-speed automatic transmission (SXT)
For 2009, the Grand Caravan gets two segment-first safety options. One is a blind-spot monitoring system that notifies drivers of passing vehicles with icons in the side mirrors and a driver-selected audible chime. The other is a rear cross-path warning system that alerts the driver to oncoming traffic while backing out of a parking space.
- Standard dual stage front airbags
- Standard side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats
- Standard antilock brakes
- Standard electronic stability system and traction control
- Standard smart key that immobilizes the engine in an attempted theft
- Optional parking assist and rear backup camera
- Optional rain-sensing wipers
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Bill Jackson||Cars.com National||March 23, 2009|
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||September 1, 2008|
|Sherrice Gilsbach||Mother Proof||December 31, 2009|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||June 14, 2009|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||March 27, 2009|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||November 8, 2008|
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