2009 Dodge Grand Caravan

The 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan is a family vehicle at its best. It is at the forefront of the minivan market offering the features and Innovative seating that many families find indispensable. The styling of the redesigned 2008 Grand Caravan doesn't represent a huge change, but it is clearly different. It looks fresh, as all the sheetmetal is new, as is the front fascia, rear fascia, and tail lamps. The many improvements include a new optional 250-horsepower V6 and six-speed transaxle (a minivan first), with fuel economy of just one less mile per gallon than the standard 175-hp V6 with a four-speed. The wheelbase has been slightly extended and the stance has been widened. The redesign has made the van a couple inches longer and 18 pounds lighter. There's more headroom but it's no taller. Aerodynamics are better and it's quieter inside. The redesigned rear suspension delivers a good ride.

2009 Dodge Grand Caravan Lineup and Options

The Caravan comes in two trims, the SE and the SXT. With the SE Stow-and-Go is optional, and with the SXT it is standard. The SE test model has the smallest of the three engines. Although the Caravan does not excel in performance, but it's safe and stable, and that is what matters for this type of vehicle. Higher performance is available in the SXT, with the 3.8-liter making 197 horsepower, or the new aluminum SOHC 4.0-liter making a big 240 hp. The SXT offers the L package with heated seats for the first two rows, a MyGIG Multimedia Entertainment System, power lift gate and rear backup camera, plus other smaller things. The M package includes hands-free phone, rear climate controls, second- and third-row window shades, cabin air filter, automatic headlamps, backup camera, backup beeper, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. The N Package starts out with the 4.0-liter single-overhead-cam V6 engine. Most of the rest of it is about deluxe entertainment. MyGIG, DVD screens for both the second and third rows, wireless headsets and remote control, Sirius radio, and an Infinity sound system with nine amplified speakers and subwoofer. The second-row seats swivel to face the third-row 60/40 bench seat, with an easily stowable table between them. The third-row seat folds into the floor, while the second-row quad chairs are removable. Options for the SE include the G package with cruise control, tinted side glass, rear climate control, and a bigger alternator. The H package includes everything in the G package, plus YES Essentials fabric, second-row power windows and third-row power vented windows, 60/40 third-row bench, trip computer, heated mirrors, remote starting and adjustable pedals. There's also a Power and Remote Entry Group, including power sliding doors on both sides, power lift gate, eight-way power driver's seat, and driver's lumbar manual support. There's a Special Appearance Group with aluminum wheels, leather -wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, black roof rack and body-colored moldings; and there's the six-speaker DVD Entertainment System with all the bells and whistles.

Engine and Handling of 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan

The SE is powered by a 175 horsepower 3.3-liter V6 mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The SXT model uses a more powerful 197 horsepower 3.8-liter V6, while a 251 horsepower 4.0-liter V6 is available. Both the standard and optional SXT engine choices use a six-speed automatic. The transmission and ride are both smooth. The base 3.3-liter V6 gets an EPA-rated 17 City and 24 Highway miles per gallon. Suspension-wise, the redesign has changed leaf springs to coil springs in the rear, and brought a new twist-beam rear axle with a track bar, not independent. Despite being less sophisticated than other minivans, the ride is good. It's more aerodynamic, although it seems boxier because of the nose, which now looks more like it's in the Dodge family.

2009 Dodge Grand Caravan Interior

The interior is where the Grand Caravan excels. There's little left wanting, from storage space, to lighting, to options like a DVD system and sound system with hard drive, and tables for the passengers to sit around. But the best optional feature is Stow 'n Go, allowing the rear seats disappear into the floor for carrying cargo. No more fumbling to release and remove awkward heavy seats and then trying to find a suitable place to store them. If you don't count Stow 'n Go, the overall interior volume in the Grand Caravan isn't necessarily class-leading. Combine this with YES Essentials seat trim that repels all but the most caustic stains, and you have a truly family-friendly vehicle. The Grand Caravan's versatility is unmatched. All trims come equipped with a tilting steering column, remote keyless entry and a tire pressure monitor. The Grand Caravan is all about transporting people comfortably and safely, while keeping the kids entertained. The instrumentation is good, black on light gray lettering, with big divisions so you can read each 5 mph. Still more useful information available on the dash includes: low coolant, low washer fluid, low oil, fuel cap ajar, door ajar, fuse fault, ESP off, and cruise control on. A tire pressure monitor is optional. The second-row bucket seats slide rearward to ease access to the third row, or they flop forward with one lever. The bells and whistles that make your Grand Caravan a home away from home may be desirable, but they are expensive. You can get second-row chairs that swivel to the rear, and a table that pops up between those buckets and the third-row bench, for car-poolers to play cards, or to eat indoors at a tailgate party. You can get a video system with screens on seatbacks, and wireless headphones and remote control. You can plug in your laptop. You can press buttons on the ceiling to open and close the side doors and lift gate. The DVD player is very easy to use, unlike in some vehicles. Put the DVD in, press Play, and it works. The screen drops down from the ceiling, so the driver loses some visibility in the rearview mirror. There's also a convex 'conversation mirror,' which allows the driver to view the backseats without turning around.

2009 Dodge Grand Caravan Exterior

The styling doesn't look radically new, but it's totally different. All the sheet metal is new, as is the front fascia, rear fascia, and tail lamps. The Grand Caravan looks more like a Dodge truck, now, in the nose at least. The hood is less sloped, and the new grille is the same chrome crosshair that fills our mirrors on the big Ram, Durango, and Nitro trucks. The pillars are fractionally thinner, although because they're black and the glass is tinted, you'd never notice from the outside. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard, an increase over the previous 15s.

Safety of the Dodge Grand Caravan

Safety features that come standard on all models include electronic stability control(which is now standard), four-wheel-disc ABS with brake assist, and full-length airbag curtains. Side-impact airbags are not available. Grand Caravan received five-star front and side crash ratings and four stars in rollover ratings from NHTSA. The 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan leads the minivan field when it comes to interior convenience, capability and versatility.

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