2008 Dodge Grand Caravan Long Term Road Test

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT: Detroit to Lincoln, Neb.

May 05, 2008

Here's what I learned in my 825.8 miles of driving today: People in Iowa still wave at perfect strangers.

I was cranking along I-80 somewhere near Des Moines, the Caravan's 4.0-liter V6 mooing lightly. I'd locked in behind a hard-drivinglady driving a ruby-red GMC Envoy. We'd swing left around slow-moving Buicks together and tuck back into the right lane together. We both used three blinks of the turn signal each time we made a move... It was like an exceedingly boring version one of those Swedish precision driving team -- only without the need for talent. Anyway, when she took an exit she gave me the wave. Not just the thanks-for-letting-me-merge-in-front-of-you motionless raised hand. No, this was a wave, like one you'd give to a, you know, friend or something.

When I'd pull off the expressway to grab some gas, people walking down the street would wave. This dealt a mighty blowto my adolescent fantasy of looking vaguely menacing. How bad could a guy driving a new minivan be anyway? Next time I drive from Detroit to Santa Monica, I'm going to roll in a primer-gray 1971 Dodge Super Bee with blacked-out windows, and maybe get a scar for my face.

The van likes to go 75 mph, which suits me just fine. For those times when the speed limit happens to be less than 75, I have Inside Line's trusty new Passport 9500i Blueradar/laser detector. This handy device saved my bacon twicein Indiana alone.Plus, its readout is -- get this -- blue.

So all's well. The van's returning adecent 22 mpg. I managed to avoid filling its in-floor storage containers with fireworks and cheap cigarettes in Indiana. I saw the headquarters of two giants in the field of auto aftermarket along the road: Tire Rack and JC Whitney. One of which I've purchased products from. I found a nice little homestead in western Iowa (top picture). It's kind of a handyman special, but it has mature landscaping. Oh, and also I viewed what was advertised as the world's largest truck stop and a restaurant named Ox Yoke. So there's that. Tomorrow I will drive many more miles.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit @ 2,403 miles

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