2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT: Hot Dirt Racing
May 19, 2008
Yesterday the Jacquot family took the long-term Dodge Grand Caravan to the XTerra West Championship in Temecula, California. A far cry from the adventure vehicle the marketing folks had in mind when they originally named the series, the Caravan is better than any SUV when it comes to transporting all the goods of an active family.
About half-way through the morning's competition, the mercury climbed into the mid 90s forcing my wife and nine-week-old daughterinto the Caravan for a periodic respite from the heat. By mid-day it was downright miserable:
We asked a lot of the Caravan's cooling system yesterday. It ran for long periods keeping the wife and baby comfortable as the wind wound up outside. There was never a hint of overheating.
Packing for the trip was easy. In fact, there's so much room in this van I didn't even bother doing it efficiently. Here's what it looks like when configured to haul three adults, a baby, a bike, a running stroller, three chairs, a tent, a baby bouncer, two gear bags, a cooler and a small hand cart to move the load:
So the inside was cool and comfortable, but the outside of the van might still be wishing it was in Michigan. This is what the rear bumper cover does when it's this hot:
This morning, when temps were in the 70s, the bumper had returned to normal, but I suspect we haven't seen the last of this deformation.
I also found the front passenger seat to be a perfectly capable changing station. My daughter wasn't convinced:
On the upside, the Caravan's 4.0-liter powerplant and six-speed transmission are an excellent pairing providing comfortable passing power without obnoxious kickdowns or engine noise. Overall, this van is nice package from behind the wheel.
Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 4,743 miles