2008 Dodge Grand Caravan

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Key Specs

of the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Improved interior
  • Comfortable ride
  • Plenty strong V-6 (3.8-liter)
  • Natural brake-pedal feel
  • Cargo versatility with Stow 'n Go seats

The Bad

  • Noisy suspension on rough roads
  • Ominous transmission clunk (six-speed)
  • Small Stow 'n Go seats (second row)
  • Cramped driving position for tall drivers

Notable Features of the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan

  • Standard stability system
  • Available Swivel 'n Go seating
  • Available power-folding third row
  • Available Sirius Backseat TV
  • Available remote start

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan Road Test

Mike Hanley

Dodge's popular Grand Caravan minivan has been overhauled for 2008 with new styling inside and out, more family-friendly features and additional safety equipment. The van is definitely an improvement over the prior-generation Grand Caravan, which finished last in a three-way Cars.comparison last year against the similar body-type Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna. While that's good news for Dodge, the Grand Caravan didn't wow me (yes, even minivans can wow me sometimes) like the Honda Odyssey did when it debuted its current generation a few years ago.

 

Exterior & Styling
The new Dodge Grand Caravan sports a more squared-off appearance than the previous-generation van. The new look is especially evident in front, which now features sharp bodywork creases. What hasn't changed is the presence of Dodge's signature crosshair grille — it's still front and center, and it's finished in chrome on SXT models. The Grand Caravan looks blocky from the sides, and the rounded D-pillars don't really hide the fact that the Grand Caravan has a frumpy rear. But hey, it is a minivan.

Sixteen-inch wheels are standard; the base SE trim level gets steel wheels and hubcaps, while the uplevel 
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT comes with aluminum rims. Seventeen-inch aluminum alloy wheels are optional on the SXT.

Ride & Handling
The Grand Caravan's softly tuned suspension provides good ride comfort, which will be appreciated by families making vacation treks across the country. Steering res...

Dodge's popular Grand Caravan minivan has been overhauled for 2008 with new styling inside and out, more family-friendly features and additional safety equipment. The van is definitely an improvement over the prior-generation Grand Caravan, which finished last in a three-way Cars.comparison last year against the similar body-type Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna. While that's good news for Dodge, the Grand Caravan didn't wow me (yes, even minivans can wow me sometimes) like the Honda Odyssey did when it debuted its current generation a few years ago.

 

Exterior & Styling
The new Dodge Grand Caravan sports a more squared-off appearance than the previous-generation van. The new look is especially evident in front, which now features sharp bodywork creases. What hasn't changed is the presence of Dodge's signature crosshair grille — it's still front and center, and it's finished in chrome on SXT models. The Grand Caravan looks blocky from the sides, and the rounded D-pillars don't really hide the fact that the Grand Caravan has a frumpy rear. But hey, it is a minivan.

Sixteen-inch wheels are standard; the base SE trim level gets steel wheels and hubcaps, while the uplevel 
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT comes with aluminum rims. Seventeen-inch aluminum alloy wheels are optional on the SXT.

Ride & Handling
The Grand Caravan's softly tuned suspension provides good ride comfort, which will be appreciated by families making vacation treks across the country. Steering response is acceptable; the Grand Caravan goes where you point it — nothing more, nothing less.

While the Grand Caravan rides comfortably, it doesn't ride quietly, especially on bumpy roads; the cabin is filled with noise from the suspension as it works to damp out the rough spots. Hard braking induces significant body dive.

Going & Stopping
All Grand Caravans have front-wheel drive, but buyers have a choice of three V-6 engines. SE models get a 3.3-liter V-6, while the SXT has a 3.8-liter V-6. A 4.0-liter V-6 is optional for the Dodge Grand Caravan SXT. As the table below shows, there's very little difference — and in some cases no difference — in gas mileage estimates among the three engines despite significant horsepower and torque differences. The two automatic transmissions play a part; there's a four-speed for the 3.3-liter V-6 and a six-speed for the larger two.

Dodge Grand Caravan Engines
  3.3-liter V-6 3.8-liter V-6 4.0-liter V-6
Horsepower
(@ rpm)
175 @ 5,000 197 @ 5,200 251 @ 6,000
Torque
(lbs.-ft. @ rpm)
205 @ 4,000 230 @ 4,000 259 @ 4,200
Required fuel Regular or E85 Regular Regular
Automatic transmission Four-speed Six-speed Six-speed
EPA-estimated
gas mileage
(city/highway, mpg)
17/24 (gas)
11/17 (E85)
16/23 16/23
Source: Manufacturer

 

My Dodge Grand Caravan SXT test van had the 3.8-liter V-6, and the engine feels plenty strong in this model. Whether you're running errands on suburban roads or merging onto the interstate, this V-6 has enough grunt to easily accelerate the Grand Caravan up to speed. It's pretty much taxed if you want to accelerate from 70 mph, though; it only provides a modest tug at that speed.


Apart from an unsettling clunk I heard when cruising at low speeds in the Grand Caravan, the six-speed automatic is otherwise refined. Shifts are smooth and the automatic kicks down quickly when necessary. The transmission also does a good job keeping the 3.8-liter V-6 in its optimal rpm range so its power is always on tap. That said, the clunk didn't inspire confidence in the transmission, and it's all the more troubling due to the fact that I heard the same sound in a Chrysler Sebring convertible we tested that had the same six-speed automatic. Even if the sound has no bearing on the reliability of the transmission, Dodge should figure out a way to eliminate it; perceptions are so important today.

Dodge did get things right with the Grand Caravan's brakes. The all-disc setup is connected to a brake pedal that has a really natural feel to it; it's very progressive and you get accustomed to it pretty quickly.

 

The Inside
The old Dodge Grand Caravan's cabin was overdue for an update, and the all-new 2008 version is a huge improvement in terms of materials quality. The fit and finish are nearly as good as the Odyssey's, and the Honda is one of the segment leaders in this area. Astute observers will notice Mercedes-Benz bits and pieces, like the power window buttons sprinkled here and there — a remnant of the recently dissolved merger between Chrysler and Daimler-Benz. While the buttons work just fine, the green backlighting on the Mercedes controls is a different shade than the rest of the interior's hue, and it's clearly evident at night.

Cabin ergonomics are good in some instances and poor in others. I like the high dash position of the audio system, but the air conditioning controls are positioned really low in the center of the dash below the vents, which makes them hard to adjust while driving. The automatic transmission gear selector, which pokes through the dash next to the gauge cluster, is also a reach when you need to shift into gear.

SE models have cloth seats, while the 
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT features stain- and odor-resistant seating surfaces. Leather seats are optional for the all-new SXT. The stain-resistant front bucket seats are fairly firm and don't have much contour to them, but I didn't find them uncomfortable. However, I would have liked the power driver's seat more if it would have allowed me to move back more; I'm about 6-foot-1, and I was a little cramped. There are cupholders throughout the cabin, and the front doors have a selection of pockets for storing odds and ends.

Second-Row Seats
The second row can have one of three kinds of seats. The base setup is a two-person bench. The optional Stow 'n Go system includes two bucket seats that can fold flat into the floor. Dodge's latest seating system is called Swivel 'n Go, and it consists of two captain's chairs that can rotate to face people in the third row. A removable table can be installed between the rows. All passenger versions of the Grand Caravan have a third-row rear-seat that can fold into a well in the floor.

My test Grand Caravan had Stow 'n Go seats in the second row. The seats can slide forward and back and the backrests recline, but they're not ideal for adults because of their small size and a low bottom cushion that makes for a knees-up seating position. Folding the seats into the floor is relatively easy once you get the hang of it, but if the front seat has been slid back, you'll have to move it forward so the Stow 'n Go seat has enough clearance to get into the floor.

Third Row
The third-row bench provides passable comfort for adults. It features a reclining backrest, and it only takes one hand to fold each section of the 60/40-split third row into the floor or put it back in place, though it does take a good tug on the strap to return the seat to its upright position. The third row can flip backward for rear-facing picnic seating. A power-folding mechanism for the seat is optional.

Safety
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats and an electronic stability system. A nice touch: When the sliding side doors are opened, the Grand Caravan's hazard lights activate to warn other drivers that people may soon be getting out of the van. A backup camera and power-adjustable pedals — the latter of which can help shorter drivers maintain a proper distance from the steering wheel — are optional.

Cargo & Towing
One of the main advantages of Grand Caravans with Stow 'n Go seats is that it's easy to go from passenger-carrying to cargo-carrying duty because none of the seats have to be removed. Many competitors have bulky (and heavy) second-row captain's chairs that have to be taken out to create space. For some buyers, Stow 'n Go will more than make up for the Grand Caravan's lesser cargo dimensions compared to the Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. (If you get the standard second-row bench or optional Swivel 'n Go seats, Stow 'n Go for the second row is no longer an option.)

Cargo Room (cu. ft.)
  Behind 1st row Behind 2nd row Behind 3rd row
Toyota Sienna 148.9 94.5 43.6
Honda Odyssey 147.4 91.1 38.4
Dodge Grand Caravan 144.3* 83 32.3
Kia Sedona (long wheelbase) 141.5 80.1 32.2
Source: Manufacturers
*SE; SXT: 140.6

 

The standard towing capacity is 1,800 pounds, but Grand Caravans with the 3.8-liter or 4.0-liter V-6 can pull up to 3,600 pounds when they're equipped with the Trailer Tow Group option package, which adds an upgraded radiator, engine oil cooler, heavy-duty transmission oil cooler, trailer wiring and rear automatic leveling.

 

Entertainment Features
Dodge offers a new way to keep the kids entertained with Sirius Backseat TV. Three channels — Nickelodeon Mobile, Cartoon Network Mobile and Disney — are included in the subscription to the service (the first year is free). One- and two-screen entertainment systems are offered, the latter of which includes separate overhead LCD screens for the second and third rows. With the two-screen setup, the Grand Caravan can accommodate two sources at once, so second-row passengers can watch something different than those in the third row. Both systems include a 115-volt household power outlet where you can plug in electronics, like a video-game console.

For the parents in front, the Dodge Grand Caravan offers the MyGIG entertainment system option, which has a 20GB hard drive that can store songs and images uploaded to it from CDs or a USB flash drive. The system is available with or without an integrated navigation system that can show traffic updates via Sirius Satellite Radio. The UConnect Bluetooth-based cell phone system is also optional.

Grand Caravan in the Market
Minivans' role as efficient people-movers is under attack as more large crossovers hit the streets. That's not to say minivans aren't good at what they do, because they are, but minivans were never a type of vehicle for the style-conscious, and vans seem to be going even more out of style.

Judged against its own kind, though, is the Dodge Grand Caravan the best overall minivan on the market? Nope. The Odyssey is better in my book, yet the Grand Caravan was already the best-selling minivan in the U.S. before its redesign, so it's hard to fathom how it could lose that title now that an improved 2008 version is here.

Send Mike an email  

 


2008 Grand Caravan Video

Watch MotorWeek on PBS. Check MotorWeek.org for times and channels.

Latest 2008 Grand Caravan Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.1)
Performance
(3.7)
Interior Design
(4.1)
Comfort
(4.0)
Reliability
(3.7)
Value For The Money
(3.8)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Worth buying used

by Gary on July 31, 2018

I've had this van for four years now and I bought it used. I had about seventy-five thousand miles on it when I bought it and now� it has 140000 miles.� mechanic will it have they had to have anything ... Read full review

(3.0)

Nice ride but not depenable.

by Paul from League City , Texas on July 16, 2018

The van rides very nice and great for long trips. We have an extended warranty and I am glad we do. We have had way to many repairs. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan currently has 7 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Grand Caravan received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker