February 09, 2009
Plenty has been blogged about our Grand Caravan's cargo versatility and capacity . This weekend during a moving expedition, I found what our beloved (or reviled) DGC can or cannot carry, as well as what does and does not work as we get ready to part ways with this long-termer.
The Grand Caravan cannot fit a Queen size mattress/box spring inside, but with some tie-downs, it's fairly easy and safe to haul them on top of the roof rack. The maximum length of a flat-packed furniture box to fit inside while still having the door shut is about 95 inches. In this case my passenger had to ride with her seat nearly in the glovebox, but we were both happier to haul this on the highway protected from the elements and also have the ability to park without worrying about having our new wardrobe frame pilfered.
February 03, 2009
With a large shelving unit in my weekend, I partnered with the cavernous Grand Caravan. The middle seats had been removed for a photo shoot, but the nifty center table was still installed. Removing the table is not hard, once you figure out the push-button release for the pole. The table top comes off its perch easily enough once you sort the under-edge release, and then the two pieces stay together with velcro straps and get stashed in the under-floor storage unit behind the driver's seat.
Getting the table top and pole into the floor was easy enough with the center seats removed, but might be a little more fun with the middle seat still in place. If you've never done it before, you might think the table swap is a pain (it's not exactly elegant in its deployment), but it's one of those things that if you've done it once, there's no drama.
With my recently tweaked back protesting at the in-van contortions, I camped onto the rear bench and fired up the Siruis Backseat TV, flipping between the three channels (Cartoon, Nickelodeon and Disney). The picture comes up almost instantly, and for the size of the screen, the picture is fine. A neighborhood kid wandered by on his skateboard as I was channel surfing and stuck his head into the sliding door opening.
"You watching the Super Bowl?" he asked.
"No," I answered, trying to briefly explain that the system only got three channels, but not live broadcast TV.
"Oh," he answered, completely unimpressed. Obviously disappointed that I wasn't watching the big game in the car, he cruised off.
FLO TV might cure his apathy. Anyone else beyond our own Doug Newcomb think live in-car TV is the next BIG THING?
Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 25,265 miles
January 08, 2009
There's so much to like about the Dodge Caravan - sadly, seems like for every positive, there's a negative.
I like the waythis vanlooks - I think the Grand Caravan is the second best looking van out there. Odyssey is first. The Dodge isn't much to look at inside however, the Chrysler version is more attractive - still, they both have the same plasticy materials.
The transmission is pretty good - upshifts are nicely muted but the shift lever itself is cheap feeling. The van's highway ride is nice and cushy but if you even think about braking or turning it feels cumbersome and heavy. Plus, this thing creaks like a listing tanker - sounds cheap all around.
December 01, 2008
After my Thanksgiving misadventure, my driver's license and gas card safely arrived via Fed Ex on Friday, meaning I was good to return home from Phoenix yesterday. Unfortunately, I forgot my cell phone and work computer this time.
November 19, 2008
After two weeks of living with our 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, I must say I have renewed appreciation for the minivan as a vehicle type. No, you can't do big smoky burnouts, but for daily life (with kids) you can't beat it. Following are my top five reasons why minivans kinda rock.
Sliding rear doors: For convenience, you can't beat them. Entry and exit is super easy thanks to the large opening, and it gets even easier with power operation. How many crossover SUVs do you know of that have power-opening rear doors?
Massive interior storage: Besides roomy accommodations for passengers, the heavies of the segment typically offer about 145 cubic feet of maximum cargo space. If you've moved house before, you know that minivans blow pickup trucks out of the water for moving boxes and even many pieces of furniture.
Plentiful storage spaces: Years of evolution has given minivans some of the best storage options in any vehicle. Innovative storage bins and plenty of cupholders are the norm, not the exception.
Safety: You won't find a vehicle segment with better safety scores. Just about every minivan sold has top NHTSA and IIHS crash-test safety scores.
Entertainment: I'd wager the best rear entertainment systems are found in minivans. Our DGC is a particularly good example thanks to its dual display screens and Sirius Backseat TV.
A lot of this is fairly obvious stuff. Yet presented will all this, my wife still says she'll never be caught dead owning a minivan. Rationality and logic, it seems, aren't enough to stem the minivan's sales decline.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
May 22, 2008
I've been eyeing the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan from afar for quite some time. The styling hasn't really grabbed me, but a lot of the features I've heard about sound pretty good.
I finally had my first turn at the wheel. My impressions haven't fully gelled, but here is where my head is at so far:
Ride & handling: Decent steering effort, but on center feel is a bit "thick"--it isn't as precise as I'd like. The ride is pretty smooth, but the rear end bounds up and down way too much when traversing long amplitude waves in the road--the kind you get when crossing bridges, etc. The rear springs feel too soft and the damping too weak. (I used to tune suspensions for two other OEs for a living, including minivans, so I'm not making this up.) And this is empty, folks. It's liable to feel less settled with a load. Third row passengersmight need airsickness bags on the roads I drive going to Oregon.
Engine & transmission: Good in-town and freeway acceleration from the 4.0-liter V6. The transmission upshifts are quick (!) and smooth. Not bad at all, but I still need to check it on a grade. The odd dash-mounted shifter and left-right manual mode make sense, in a way, because you can tap the manual shifter up or down without removing your hands from the wheel.
May 07, 2008
If this 2,400-mile slog from Detroit to LA has taught me anything, it is the power of willful ignorance and blind faith. When the Dodge Carvavan balked at starting the end of yesterday's drive, I chose to put my fate into the spectral hands of the Dodge Brothers in hopes that the problem would be corrected before today's sunrise. And that's exactly what happened. The Dodge started each and every time I asked it to...
Now it is possible that I'd imagined the problem. I had spent a lot of time on the road and was, by last night, feeling a bit, um, unhinged. But neitherI nor any of my imaginary passengers believe this to be the case. We'll mention the incidents to the dealer when we take the van in for its first oil change, something the its computer is already demanding.
We averaged 20.8 mpg for the whole trip, which is a decent figure, although a couple of mpg below what the EPA predicted. With an internal hard drive, a CD player, an auxiliary input for my iPod and satellite radio at my command, I never once had to scan local radio for something decent to listen to. The van's developed a luxuriant goatee of 10 state's worth of bugs. Withsix cupholders in easy reach, I managed to surround myself an impressive array of digital devices, canned coffee beverages and assorted debris.In this regard, the van is anenormously convenient vessel forlongdayson the open seas.
Late today, I noticed a crumb on the "+"markingat the base of theautostick shifter.Iwiped it off with the tip of my index finger and ended up taking off the top section of the "+" so it now looks like a very small, uppercase "T."That shouldn't happen.
Good luck in California, Caravan. It's been...convenient knowing you. --Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit
April 25, 2008
To a certain segment of the reading population there are more important elapsed time figures than those accompanying a 1/4-mile acceleration test. One such figure is the elapsed time it takes to transfer music from a CD to the Caravan's MyGIG 20-gig hard drive. When it comes to living with a minivan, I think they might be right.