If you don't like the minivan, you just need to get over yourself. Today's minivan is as much a part of the American family as sibling rivalry and Pop-Tarts. It's practical, versatile and it's what your family wants. Plus, people buy them, just like Pop-Tarts.
Despite swirling rumors of the minivan segment collapsing under the threat of crossover utilities, one in every 15 new vehicles sold in the U.S. is a minivan and about 40 percent of these vans are sold by Chrysler and Dodge. Americans have consistently purchased about 1 million minivans each year since 1993.
Although both Ford and General Motors simply aren't going to build minivans anymore, Chrysler has no intention of walking away from the segment it created almost 25 years ago.
Spongebob Squarevan You may have seen pictures of the new van. You may have winced in horror. The truth is, both the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and 2008 Chrysler Town & Country are much better-looking up close. Dave Smith, manager of vehicle synthesis for the Chrysler Group, says, "The styling change from the old jellybean shape to the current, more chiseled look is intended to translate the low-roof look of the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300 into a minivan."
Two Grand Caravan trim levels are offered: base SE and midlevel SXT. The Chrysler Town & Country has all the same available features as the Caravan but adds an upscale, top-of-the-line Limited version that includes many of the SXT's options as standard equipment.
Every version of the new minivan comes with more standard safety features than the previous version, regardless of trim level. Side curtain airbags for all three rows, stability control and traction control are all standard. Safety options include an integrated child-booster seat, rear parking sensors and a rear parking camera.
The Grand Caravan SE comes standard with a flex-fuel (gasoline or an E85 blend), 175-horsepower 3.3-liter V6. It's distinguished by a decent amount of standard comfort features like keyless entry (Honey, are the keys in the diaper bag?), fold-away outside mirrors (if we park the bicycles over there, can we still get the van in the garage, you think?) and a flip-down kiddie mirror (Nicholas, stop that right now!).
The Grand Caravan SXT adds a 197-hp 3.8-liter V6, power driver seat and pedals, power outside mirrors and rear air-conditioning. (Dodge expects most people will opt for this version of the Caravan.) The SXT also has more available options than the SE. For example, there's a new 251-hp, all-aluminum 4.0-liter V6. The 3.8- and 4.0-liter V6s are hooked up to a new six-speed automatic transmission, while the 3.3-liter V6 gets a four-speed.
Overall, the new minivan has been stretched 2.5 inches in length, and its wheelbase is 1.9 inches longer. The body structure is more rigid, and the suspension has been recalibrated for better handling.
Take the Kids Tailgating This Fall Interior storage space is up significantly. With no fewer than 13 cupholders and various mesh nets and cubbies, there's a place for every juice box and ground-up bag of Froot Loops you can pack.
The third-row seat splits 60/40 and folds flat into the floor. Almost every minivan has this, but the Grand Caravan offers an optional power-folding seat with one-touch operation. No other minivan has this feature.
The Grand Caravan's standard Stow 'n Go seats carry over from the previous minivan, although Dodge has added a few twists that make overall function even more family-friendly. Meanwhile, the new, optional Swivel 'n Go system lets you turn the second-row seats 180 degrees so they face the rear of the car. In this configuration, you can set up a small table that stows out of sight when not in use and create your own self-contained living area.
On the way home from our test-drive to Sea World, the real usefulness of Swivel 'n Go quickly became obvious. It's late, and Mommy, Daddy and the 5-year-old are hungry, while the toddler is sleeping like, well, like a baby. As any parent knows, if you wake the toddler, nothing good will come of it. The solution is drive-through In-N-Out burger. We then park and eat with both seats turned around and that special table installed while the toddler continues to dream of blankies and Barney. As an added bonus, the kid who's not sleeping thinks it's "so cool" that we get to eat in the car and he can continue to watch his Justice League DVD.
These swiveling seats aren't perfect, though. In order to swivel and provide seatbelt protection, each seat has an integrated seatbelt, something Chrysler learned from building convertibles. The problem is that the height of the shoulder belt retractor is not adjustable, so the belt rides too high on kids who require a booster seat. Parents will want to make sure they have a booster seat with a backrest, not just a seat bottom.
The real plus to Swivel 'n Go is that the seats are a little larger and more comfortable than the Stow 'n Go seats.
Now Showing in the Grand Caravan Cineplex No other minivan offers an in-car entertainment system as elaborate as that of the Grand Caravan. Opt for Entertainment Group 1 and you'll get a second-row DVD player with remote, headphones, a one-year subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio and a MyGIG hard-drive-based audio system. Navigation is a separate option. Check a few more boxes on the options sheet and you can get the van outfitted with a third-row video screen and video input jacks.
This means you can play video games or watch a movie in the third row and watch a different movie or listen to music in the second row, while the front passengers listen to Sirius radio or their own CDs. Expect to pay about $2,300 for all these optional features.
Sirius Backseat TV adds another level of entertainment, and it's exclusive to the Dodge and Chrysler minivans for now. Backseat TV has three channels of programming: Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
Quicker and Quieter Thankfully, Chrysler engineers worked overtime to make the Grand Caravan equally competent on the road. In our last minivan comparison test the Chrysler van finished dead last. If we were to hold this test with the updated 2008 version, we suspect the results would be much different.
Thanks to the new six-speed automatic transmission and a new optional V6, the Grand Caravan actually feels light on its feet, with relatively brisk acceleration. With 259 pound-feet of torque from the 4.0-liter V6, there's more than enough power for getting up to highway speed, plus the six-speed transmission results in less cycling between gears.
Ride quality and interior noise levels have also been improved. Chris Alianz, Chrysler's chief minivan engineer, said, "We want the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country to be quieter than the competition; one way we accomplished this is by using thicker glass and isolating the front suspension component from the body."
The improvement is instantly noticeable. The cabin remains quiet and conversation levels never have to raise much above normal, even at highway speeds.
Looking for a Bargain? Base price for a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SE is just over $22,000, including destination. This MSRP is $1,950 lower than the previous model but includes more features.
The story is much the same for the nicely equipped 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, which carries a sticker price of $27,535. That's about $1,000 less than the outgoing SXT, and with more features. A fully loaded Grand Caravan can easily hit nearly $40,000, and that's right in line with competitors from Honda, Nissan and Toyota. A fully loaded 2008 Chrysler Town & Country will hit $40,000.
If you have a family and looking cool is still one of your top criteria, maybe you need therapy. When you're done, consider getting a minivan. That's when the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with its 4.0-liter V6, six-speed transmission, improved safety features and impressive interior possibilities will get your respect.
Anyone with crushed Froot Loops stuck to the bottom of his shoes has no business thinking about what's cool anyway.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Is the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2008 Grand Caravan featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2008 Grand Caravan 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2008 Grand Caravan.
Review 108,000 miles and counting. To start off the Dodge Caravan 2008-2010 model years are plagued with problems. The keyless entry fobs routinely fail, resulting in expensive reprograming and new key replacement costs. Putting your key in the ignition and getting a "BAD KEY" message while on vacation with a car full of kids will ruin your experience. Transmission shaft seals, oil pan seals, AC lines, brake calipers seizing up, undersized brake pads, antifreeze leaks, head gasket seals, and power steering fluid leaks are just a few problems you will have to deal with. Routine oil changes at 3000 miles or less is a must, do NOT wait for the suggested 5000 mile limit, the engine will eat upwards of a quart and a half of oil (a problem that plagues many Chrysler/Dodge engines) between oil changes. Factory tires wear out quickly, tire stores will advise you to buy another brand/model of tire when you replace them. Recalls stacking up, and the dealerships can't handle the volume of cars coming in, I've been waiting 6 months for the ignition switch recall alone. What is good about this van? Well the interior is nicely designed and appointed. Intuitive controls, with good ergonomics makes this a comfortable ride, and an excellent vehicle for road trips. Cup holders galore, storage spaces rivaled only by Han Solo's Milennium Falcon, and a sound system that is a pleasure to listen to. Styling is a high point, but many nooks and bends collect dirt that will have to be cleaned out by hand. Seats are comfortable, built in child restraints in the second row bench seat is a nice touch. Performance? It's a van, it can merge without much effort, handling is decent but you won't be taking it around the Nurburgring to be sure. In summary, I have owned many Dodge products over the years, with cars exceeding 200,000 miles. This van will be the first time I will trade in a car without at least 150,000 on the odometer. I really wanted to like this car, and even after $4000 in out of pocket repairs, I thought we could keep it, but the problems never seem to end. I take great car of my cars, crawling under them and poking under the hood every week to keep an eye on things and making sure they are well kept. This is just simply too much of problem child to keep throwing money at it. Pity, the Caravan once ruled supreme, now just a poorly made pale shadow of its former glory.
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
What options are available on the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan?
Available Dodge Grand Caravan 2008 Submodel Types: Minivan
Available Trims: SXT, SE, R/T, GT, SE Plus, SE Plus Fleet, American Value Package, Crew, Sport, Mainstreet, SE Fleet, Express, Hero, C/V, SXT Plus, Base, ES, LE, eX
Exterior Colors: Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Bright White Clear Coat, Black Onyx Crystal Pearl Coat, Bright Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat, White Knuckle Clear Coat, Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat, Granite Pearl Coat, Stone White Clearcoat, Billet Clear Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearlcoat, Octane Red Pearl Coat, True Blue Pearl Coat, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat, Dark Charcoal Pearlcoat, Modern Blue Pearlcoat, Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Maximum Steel Metallic Clear Coat, Redline 2 Pearl Coat, True Blue Pearlcoat, Cashmere Pearl Coat, Deep Water Blue Pearlcoat, Billet Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Redline 2 Pearlcoat, Butane Blue Pearlcoat, Cashmere Pearlcoat, Light Sandstone Metallic Clearcoat, Cashmere/Sandstone Pearl Coat, Maximum Steel Metallic Clearcoat, Blackberry Pearlcoat, Contusion Blue Pearl Coat, Patriot Blue Pearlcoat, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Magnesium Pearlcoat, Midnight Blue Pearlcoat, Atlantic Blue Pearlcoat, Blue Streak Pearlcoat, Marathon Blue Pearlcoat, White Gold Clearcoat, Dark Titanium Metallic Clearcoat, Linen Gold Metallic Clearcoat, Onyx Green Pearlcoat, Sunburst Orange Pearlcoat, Black Clearcoat, Dark Cordovan Pearlcoat, Light Cypress Green Pearlcoat, Steel Blue Pearlcoat, Bright White Clearcoat, Copperhead Pearlcoat, Golden White Pearl Tricoat, Inferno Red Tinted PC, Inferno Red Tinted Pearlcoat, Light Almond Pearl Metallic Clearcoat, Marine Blue Pearlcoat, Midnight Blue Pearl Coat, Red Pearl Coat, Satin Jade Pearlcoat, Silver Steel Metallic Clearcoat
Interior Colors: Black/Light Graystone cloth, Black leather, Black premium cloth, Black/Light Graystone leather/suede, Dark Slate Gray/Light Shale cloth, Medium Slate Gray/Light Shale cloth, Black/Sandstorm cloth, Medium Slate Gray cloth, Medium Slate Gray, Black cloth, Black/Sandstorm premium cloth, Black leather/suede, Black/Light Graystone premium cloth, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone cloth, Navy Blue, Black/Light Graystone leatherette/suede, Dark Slate Gray/Light Shale leather, Mist Gray, Black leatherette/suede, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone, Medium Slate Gray/Light Shale leather, Sandstone, Taupe
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Third-row seating, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, 2nd Row Bucket Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Stability Control, 3500lb Towing Capacity, Aux Audio Inputs, Post-collision safety system, Power Driver Seat, Power Liftgate/Trunk, USB Inputs, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, Alarm, Back-up camera, Remote Start, Auto Climate Control, Rear Entertainment System, Leather Seats, Heated seats, Navigation, Parking sensors, Upgraded Engine, Blind Spot Monitoring, Upgraded Stereo, Sunroof/Moonroof, Towing Hitch, AWD/4WD, Mobile Internet