Redesigned Grand Caravan makes most of its assets
Admit or not, Bunky, but we do love our minivans. From 1994 until 2004, vans were the No. 2 vehicle segment in the nation annually and have maintained third spot since then.
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Some 125,000 units were sold last year alone, and one out of every 10 vehicles in Canada is said to be a minivan.
Within that scenario — and despite a recent market shift toward trendier “crossover” SUVs — Chrysler’s Dodge Caravan has been a Canadian bestseller for years and the automaker intends to keep that momentum going with a completely redesigned 2008 Grand Caravan that brings a fresh new look and a fresh new interior.
Sharp-eyed readers will note we’re only talking “Grand” here, as the short-wheelbase Caravan, which accounted for a good share of Canadian sales, was a casualty of this year’s redesign.
But to help fill the value-leader void, Chrysler came up with a solution in the form of a base SE Canada Value Package model. As the name implies it’s unique to the Canadian market.
Besides the $23,645 SE CVP, Dodge offers a mid-range SE (with the popular Stow ‘n Go seat layout that debuted in 2005) at $26,045 as well as a top-line $27,845 SXT version — the latter equipped with a more powerful 197-horsepower 3.8-litre V6 engine. The base CVP and SE models make do with a 3.3-litre V6 putting out 175 hp.
No matter the model, they all benefit from better looking, cleaner styling, Dodge’s signature crosshair grille and more vertical upper sides that permit a wider roof (not to mention increased interior space) while keeping the overall width unchanged from that of the previous model. Front and rear suspension revisions also deliver improved stability, handling and ride comfort.
Otherwise, the Dodge interior of old has been replaced with a much cleaner, functional motif. Material choices look better and the cloth upholstery (leather is available) appears durable enough to withstand an active family’s daily use and abuse.
Accommodation and entertainment arrangements are family-friendly, too, with three distinct seat and storage system available (depending on model choice). There’s also available Bluetooth compatibility and Chrysler’s MyGIG “infotainment” system with satellite radio, navigation, touch-screen controls and more.
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan CVP
• Type: Mid-size, 7-pass minivan FWD