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Ford and General Motors have lost their taste for the minivan wars, leaving the Chrysler Group to stand alone as the sole domestic player in the minivan arena. It's just as well -- DCX always had the best American vans, anyway. Having invented the segment, Chrysler has hunkered down and pushed their minivan to be a contender once again. The Caravan and Town & Country will sport new styling, squaring up the edges of the current look, and front-end appearances will offer more distinction between the Dodge and Chrysler brands. Underhood, four-cylinders are banished, and there's a new high-end 4.0 liter V6 hooked up to a six-speed transaxle. The squarer profile will offer more interior room, and there's been talk of DCX ditching the short-wheelbase vans altogether. Speaking of the interior, of course the Stow 'n Go seats will show up, but there are also some slick surprises inside the new vans.
Continued after the jump

[Source: Allpar.com]

We're sure we haven't heard about all of the wondrous things that await inside the newest Chrysler minis, but Allpar has been keeping their ears to the ground, and we think the vans will be a pleasant surprise at the Detriot Auto Show (assuming their embargo holds). Lighted cupholders that'll heat or cool your drink sound pretty neat, and Allpar reports that the front seats will be ventilated, while the middle passengers can warm their rumps with seat heaters. Even the folks way back in the third row can amuse themselves with a powered seat. Let's hope that DCX has selected switches with a high MTBF, because if there's one thing kiddies love to do, it's flip switches.

The Stow n' Go system will be on hand for storage and configuration flexibility, and we'd still like to fill one with ice and beverages and use it for tailgating. Keeping the munchkins from abusing the switchgear will be easier with a Harman/Becker sourced MyGig Infotainment system along with Sirius streaming video. If romper room gets too loud, you can always treat everyone to a "wind tunnel" demonstration, utilizing the rear windows' newfound ability to roll down.

Niceties aside, the real meat and potatoes that will make the van competitive have been addressed as well. Manufacturing quality will increase due in part to the team-based approach DCX has implemented. The interior will be a more serene place to enjoy the better acceleration improved fuel mileage. The latter two may be mutually exclusive unless and until a hybrid version is rolled out. The icing on the new RT (current minis are RS) minivan cake is Volkswagen's vote of confidence. The platform is good enough for Volkswagen to base its new US van offering on it, which should make for an interesting comparison. VW may be able to take design more retro and expressive, which Chrysler considered with the Kahuna, but rejected in favor of moderate lines. We're excited to see what DaimlerChrysler has baked in to their new rolling loaf. The upgrades sound substantial and we're glad there's more to it than some extra cubbies and cupholders that'll mix your hot cocoa. Minivans don't normally raise the pulse, but we're eager to see what rolls out at the NAIAS.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      That option premium better be pretty low [$500], because ~175hp from a V6 is definately 4 cylinder territory

      The 3.5 OC is 96mm bore x 81mm stroke
      The 4.0 OC is a stroker, same 96mm bore x91mm stroke.

      The 3.8 pushrod is a 87 mm stroke on 96mm bore
      The 3.3 pushrod is 93x81
      • 8 Years Ago
      Listen, this post has more opinion than fact in it, mostly by brand loyalists without a lot of seat time in any of the vans mentioned. I rode in the Chrylser variations as a kid and gave them the first shot when it came time to buy for my family 6 years ago. They were instantly taken off the list when I looked at reliability, safety and power, which to me are the 3 main issues to buy or not. I drove every van on the market and bought the Honda Odyssey. Why? Amazing reliability, rock solid safety record and great power - no one who has driven the DCX versions can argue the Honda is top dog here. Some may feel the DCX version deserves brand loyalty for inventing the niche, but I believe in the free market and as such, I bought what works best. By the way, after owning my Honda for nearly six years, I'll be at the dealership in the spring to order another one. I wouldn't even consider the DCX with their qualitative issues. I hope that dealership repair waiting room is comfy - those of you that choose the DCX are going to be spending a lot of time there.
      • 8 Years Ago
      They are not ditching the short-wheelbase, which accounts for almost 60% of Chrysler minivan sales in Canada, where the Caravan is the country's best selling car (and in 2005 was outsold by the F-Series by only a few thousand units).
      • 8 Years Ago
      The only reason DCX has been able to sell minivans is with rebates, low/no interest loans, begging, crying, offering wives and daughters, and groveling and sniveling at the customer's feet to lure unsuspecting schills. I have rented a dozen of them over the past couple years and they are worth exactly what the rental companies pay for them and no more. Hopefully their new ones will be at minimum a vast improvement, but I doubt it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Let's home DC doesn't screw up this design and opportunity, just as they did with the new Sebring.....and the Compass....and the Commander.


      • 8 Years Ago
      I really hope that DMX has success with this new style. I think it's a shame that GM and Ford can't make a highly competitive minivan and have had to vacate the market.

      I kind of like the look of the new Sebring. Would I buy it over a Camry, I don't know.
      • 8 Years Ago
      an R/T MINIVAN...... and people still wonder why US auto makers are loosing credibility by the minut...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not to Quibble here but

      The DCX vans (current gen) came out in 1999 as 2000. They will have been on market for 8 years and did receive major updates in 2005, such as Stow N Go and interior IP etc... Honda did same with their's, with many parts carried over to 2005+ models.

      I happen to have Stow N Go seats and their fine for adults for a few hours. Have never had complaints on long roadtrips.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Japanese Competition? What Competition?Every Freeking Minivan,including the Honda was based of the latest Caravan platform.The Dodge rides alot nicer,is cheaper,will cost way less to repair when needed,and is safer.Anyone who pays 5 to 10 g's more for a Honda or Toyota is getting ripped off.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Chrysler was the only one to be able to sell a decent minivan to the public. The designs are often good looking but their resale value isnt as high as their japanese counterparts. On top of their resale.. is the turn around for a new design. This current one.. has been out 10years. Im sorry, but thats no excuse for a top selling minivan.. not to be touched.

      Heck for so long.. it was the minivans that were all over the tube. It was all they had. Their trucks were ancient. Their cars werent selling, and they didnt have an suv (at the time). Now they have them (in abaundance) and THEY STILL ARENT SELLING.

      I think its interesting.. Chrysler will have its minivans to fight against Honda's Odyssey, Toyota's Sienna, Nissans's Quest (and isnt it funny GM / FORD are out of the Minivan race yet the Koreans are in with theirs.-- Cant beat them.. COPY THEM) With the Entourage and their Sedona. --(On price ALONE)

      The battle.. has heated up. I dont think they can offer the awd unit.. AND the stow and go... cause they occupy the same space.-- (That tunnel under the vehicle). My bet.. STILL THE JAPANESE.
      David in PA
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree the Sebring is a huge disappointment as far as design goes, especially when you compare it to what Nissan has done with the new Altima. It remains to be seen if the quality of the Sebring is improved any. To me it looks like a nice rental. But as far as mini vans go, it seems Chrysler has always understood their unique association to the minivan and has always put in the effort to improve, refine and be innovative. I think they understand that it's too big a part of their stable to not strive for a competitive product. I drove a '98 Caravan quite happily for 8 years, and while I'm done with the need for a minivan, I think it's an important and useful vehicle for many families and small businesses and I'm interested to see what Chrysler has come up with. I agree with Accordsforall that it's quite amusing (shameful really) that Ford and GM could never figure it out after 20 years and now throw in the towel when the Koreans seemed to get it right away. The new Hyundai van is as nice looking as any and I've see quite a few on the road.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The 4.0 & 4 speed auto + underdrive (8 possible ratios, crappy & slow shifting)
      better be standard.
      The 3.8 lost power from the horrible exhaust routing from Stow&Go, and the new rules have dropped that to only ~200hp.
      The 3.3 has got to be deadly slow with the 4 speed automatic (hopefully fleet only)

      The '07 kia sedona & hyundai entourage 250hp 253ft-lbs on regular, thanks SAE rules.

      Who will have the first 300hp minivan?
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