What's New for 1996
A complete redesign yields a cavernous interior, best-in-class driveability and new innovations such as the optional driver-side passenger door. And although the all-wheel-drive version is discontinued for now, Caravan dethrones the Ford Windstar and once again reigns as king of the minivans.
How do you improve upon a perennial winner in its class? That's not an easy task, but despite the growing competition in the minivan arena, Chrysler Corporation appears to be on the road to success -- again.
From the beginning, Dodge Grand Caravan front-drive minivans have demonstrated carlike characteristics. That's what has drawn so many sales, and it's even truer with this rendition. In addition to a fresh, more rounded profile, the all-new models are packed with detail improvements. Visibility is even better than before, with a broader view of the ground, due to a lowered cowl and 30-percent greater glass area. Beltlines sit several inches lower. Cargo area has grown by 20 percent, with 33-percent more room behind the third seat. Instead of being fixed in place, that backseat rolls rearward.
What's gained even more attention than those "Easy Out" rollaway seats is the innovative driver-side sliding door -- a feature that makes so much sense, it's amazing that no one tried this before. Chrysler forecasts that two-thirds of customers will pay extra for the option. Also intriguing is the new windshield-wiper de-icer (standard on the LE).
Cupholders not only are numerous, they "ratchet down" to a smaller size. Except for an overabundance of climate controls, and an oddly shaped column gearshift, the attractively curved dashboard is a pleasure to consult. Seats are soft but reasonably supportive, with moderate side bolstering.
Light steering response gives the Grand Caravan an undeniably carlike feel, with an exceptionally smooth ride. Highly maneuverable and easy to control, the minivan delivers just a hint that you could exceed its capabilities, as when rounding a sharp curve. A 3.0-liter, 150-horsepower V6 serves as the base engine, with a 180-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 optional. The Sport Grand Caravan features specially tuned shocks and springs.
Definitely investigate the new Grand Caravan if you're shopping for a minivan.