- The ultimate in family practicality
- Kids will love satellite TV
- Two DVD screens available
- Lots of storage
- V-6 engines with six-speed automatics
- Chunky styling
- Plasticky interior
- Lack of polish
The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan is loaded with practical features that families on the go will use and appreciate, but it’s not the most luxurious minivan out there.
The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan benefits from a stiffer unibody than previous Chrysler minivans, and the improved structure shows in two key areas: its library-like interior quietness and very good ride quality.
Outside and from the front, there's no mistaking the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan for anything other than a Dodge. The Dodge brand's sporty cross-hair grille tells you that there is a little bit of Ram in this minivan. The all-new styling on the Dodge Grand Caravan presents a more squared-off look and represents an edgy departure from the Clorox-bottle shape of the previous generation. Particularly from the rear, the van's boxy design looks as if it were artfully drawn with a drafter's T-square. From the rear, it's hard to tell the Dodge from its slightly less sporty and more upscale Chrysler Town & Country counterpart.
The interior shares the angular style that is so prevalent on the Grand Caravan's exterior, but crafted curves purposefully break up the linearity. With recognition that minivan interiors endure an interminable life with children, hard plastics are used for most every surface that isn't carpeted. The Dodge's white-faced gauges look sporty, and bits of chrome distract you from the...plastic. Storage is excellent, with multiple cubbies, door pockets, and huge under-floor compartments. Especially useful are the LEDs that illuminate the front-door bins.
Chrysler's corporate 3.8-liter V-6 powered the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan model tested by TheCarConnection.com. Two other V-6s are available: the 3.3-liter and the 4.0-liter. The 197-horsepower powertrain includes a six-speed automatic, and the combination provides more than adequate performance for this class of vehicle. If you want better acceleration without taking a fuel-economy hit, choose the 4.0-liter V-6 with 251 hp. Pass on the 3.3-liter V-6 altogether because of the four-speed automatic that comes with it. The Dodge Grand Caravan weighs over two tons, so power is an important component of overall driving safety and satisfaction.
The Grand Caravan's long wheelbase of 121.2 inches affords a spacious interior with comfortable seating in all three rows. For you experienced Dodge minivan owners, there is no longer a short-wheelbase Caravan model--Dodge simplified things by just going big, so from 2008 and out, the Grand Caravan is the only Caravan. TheCarConnection.com's test vehicle was outfitted with the Swivel 'n Go second-row bucket seats, a feature that we suppose some people will find useful. This option includes second-row seats that can rotate 180 degrees to face the third-row seats. A removable pedestal-mounted table can sprout from the floor in the limited area between the rows. Perhaps the option works for children, but adults will find the face-to-face configuration cramped. With all rows facing forward, seating comfort is very good. The MyGIG entertainment system plus Sirius TV with its roof-mounted twin-screen LCD system should keep kids entertained.
If you were to drive the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan back to back with a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, you'd feel some differences in refinement. The Dodge doesn't quite have the level of polish that the Honda and Toyota do. However, the Grand Caravan does offer more variety in terms of powertrains and available features than either competitor, and the Dodge's price point is significantly lower than either the Honda's or Toyota's. Also, don't even think of asking for Stow 'n Go seats or Sirius TV at a Honda or Toyota dealership.
The 2009 Ford Flex is a different take on the traditional minivan. With its MINI-esque styling and seven-passenger interior, this might be a Ford worth considering if you don't fall in love with the Grand Caravan.