2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT: Lincoln, Neb. to Green River, Utah
May 06, 2008
I have met the high-plains drifter. And its name is 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT.
Turns out there's not a whole lot of, um, vertical things in Nebraska or eastern Colorado. This means that wicked crosswinds just come barrel-assing over the dirt and ram the side of the Caravan full force...
So many steering corrections are needed to keep the Caravan in its shipping lane that I felt like I was filming a green-screen driving screen for a television program. But it's a box right? And it's probably not worse in this regard than any other van. And it was still nimble enough to dodge the tumbleweeds.
I'd been dreading the trip through the Rockies in this big boat. Oddly, the Caravan proved a pretty faithful companion on the steep, twisty grades. It was more relaxed here than out on the open prairie. Like all Caravans powered by the 4.0-liter V6, our test van comes with a handling package. Yes, this sounds laughable. But the joke's on you. The big ol' Dodge can be eased down the mountain quite smoothly and securely. But she likes to be eased into it with a slow hand.
With high winds, higher speeds and some steep climbs, the Caravan dropped a couple of mpg from yesterday's performance. It returned a consistent 20 mpg all day. With 2533 miles on the odometer, the "Change Oil" warning light came on, which seems awfully early in its life. The oil level is fine though, so we'll wait until the Caravan's arrival in Santa Monica to deal with that. The green segmented letters actually present it like this: CHAngE OIL
At the end of the day's drive, just as we were entering the intensely desolate eastern Utah, the Caravan refused to start after a brief gas and refreshments break. Turn the key and...nothing. Uh oh. Take the key out, put it back in and turn and it started right up. Next time we turn the vehicle off, the same thing happened. Hmmm.After much thought, we have decided for the moment to pretend this didn't happen (twice) and call it a day with full confidence that it will have cured itself after a good night's rest. If you don't hear from me for a while, send help. I'll be in Utah--somewhere.
--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit @ 3,226 miles