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2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Review

May 12, 2008
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Review
by Luc Gagné , Auto123.com
Originally introduced 24 years ago, Dodge's minivan keeps soldiering on and defying the odds. After all, consumer demand for this type of vehicle is melting faster than snow on a hot spring day. In February, Automotive News released numbers to illustrate just how fast things are going south for minivans. In 2003, 43.5 percent of American minivan owners who bought a new vehicle again chose a minivan. Last year, it was only 36.8 percent.

Upon redesigning the Grand Caravan, Dodge gave it a new personality.

Chrysler executives acknowledged that minivans are declining by replacing the small Caravan (short wheelbase) with the all-new Journey crossover. Now, the automaker is banking on the Grand Caravan and its luxury variant, the Chrysler Town & Country, to maintain a stronghold on a market segment it basically created (although, if you remember, Volkswagen was selling the Microbus in the U.S. as early as the 1950s).

Upon redesigning the Grand Caravan (for the last time?), Dodge gave it a new personality. Gone are the curvy lines brought in by the third generation (1996-2000). The new model looks angular and massive, almost like an SUV.

Simplified lineup
The lineup now includes two trim levels: the base model is called SE and the premium model is known as SXT (which we tested). At Chrysler, two models are also offered, both of which are essentially SXTs with even more features.

Our tester was powered by the optional 3.8L V6. Producing 197 horsepower (3 less than last year), this mill is now mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. The latter makes the 3.8L seem livelier than the standard 3.3L V6 (now rated at 175 horsepower). Replacing the old 4-speed autobox (except on the base model), this new transmission is clearly more flexible, which adds to the driving pleasure and ride quality.

The upgraded powertrain also boasts reasonable fuel economy, at least when compared to other minivans. At the end of our 600-km road test, which included a combination of city and highway driving, we wound up with an average of 11.5 L/100 km.

Producing 197 horsepower, this 3.8L V6 is now mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
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