IntroductionIs it possible to man up the minivan? Chrysler is giving it a go with the new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan. Back in 2008, Dodge displayed the Dodge Caravan R/T concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Caravan R/T was complete with hood scoop, 20-inch wheels and Dodge's trademark fiery red paint. At the time, the Caravan R/T received little more than curious looks and scant serious consideration from the press. However, consumer response must have been enough to convince Chrysler that manning up the minivan held promise, even if we don't get a hood scoop in the bargain.The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan will be hitting dealer showrooms within the next couple months, and when it does, Chrysler is hoping the Grand Caravan will catch the eye of men in need of family transportation. To achieve this goal, Chrysler has updated the 2011 Grand Caravan both inside and out. The split crosshair grill, quad headlamps, updated rear fascia and LED taillights spice up the exterior look, which carries over into a sporty interior that still retains the amenities Chrysler minivan buyers have come to expect, such as ample storage, Stow n' Go seats, etc. Perhaps hedging its bets, Chrysler also mentions that the interior includes "storage space for larger items, like a purse" in the center console.
The aggressive nature of the 2011 Grand Caravan is more than skin deep. The vehicle is equipped with the new 3.6L Pentastar V-6, which produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Not too shabby, especially considering that the 5.9L V-8 found in the Dodge Ram just a few years ago produced only 245 horse and topped out at around 15 mpg (on a good day). Coupled with a six-speed transmission, the 3.6L engine is expected to return up to 23 mpg on the highway. A driver selectable Fuel Economizer Mode adjusts shifting to maximize fuel efficiency. A factor which should not be overlooked by drivers whom enjoy keeping control is the term "driver selectable."
Safety, of course, remains securely in focus. In addition to standard safety features, an available Safety Sphere package includes ParkSense(r) rear park assist system, a rear back-up camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection system, rain-sensitive wipers and automatic headlamps. Chrysler's press release rattled off the following list of standard security and safety features:
- Front seat mounted side air bags
- A new driver side knee blocker air bag
- Supplemental three-row side-curtain air bags
- Electronic stability control
- Tire pressure monitoring
- Remote keyless entry