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The Dodge Grand Caravan R/T (Chrysler)
Dads of the world, listen up: Chrysler feels your pain. They don't want you to feel all emasculated, driving around in a soft, fat minivan meant for girls.

They know you need a man cave on wheels to keep your masculinity in check. Something dark and fast, and maybe kind of blingy.

So that's why they're offering the Dodge Caravan R/T: Decked out inside in black, it comes with a 3.6 liter V6 engine, a set of 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, a performance suspension, and a 9-speaker premium soundsystem with subwoofers. They've replaced the woodgrain on the dashboard with brushed aluminum, put the brakes from the Dodge Viper on the vehicle, and lowered it a little.

Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's head designer, had to sell his sports car when his first baby was born 12 years ago. He and his wife bought a minivan, and he did what any self-respecting car designer would do: He customized it.

"I was astonished at how well you can make that thing handle," he said. The R/T version of the Caravan is designed to "appeal to a father that has responsibilities, but still has a sporty side deep down in his heart."


Minivan sales have dropped off a cliff in the past five years. They hit 1.1 million in 2005, and fell to just over 500,000 in 2010. With the economy suffering, car sales as a whole have been down dramatically in the past few years. But minivan sales are suffering from a lack of popularity. Automakers like General Motors and Ford dropped out of the market entirely a few years ago.

Minivans are simply unpopular with a lot of people, who don't love the fact that they need to trade in their cool cars for something more boxy and practical. But a lot of parents have found there is no substitute for the cargo room, sliding doors and fuel efficiency of the minivan.

Brad Powell, chief operating officer of DadLabs, a website dedicated to fathers, says minivans aren't the problem. They are functional, easy to get kids in and out of, and act as a gasoline-powered pack mule.

View Gallery: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T


"Minivans aren't real testosterone laden," he said. "It's kind of tough to go from the beefy sports car and truck to something a little milder ... Once you do, it makes life much easier."

Toyota has tried to play up on the minivan's inherent dorkiness with a line of commercials called "Swagger Wagon," in which a mom and dad love their minivan with unbridled passion.

Gilles hopes more men will embrace the minivan if they realize they can have more fun while driving one.

"I always had that in the back of my mind, that there has to be more guys like myself who want to have fun," he says. "A lot of moms would like it, too."

Powell says he thinks Dodge's man van could have appeal with some men. But no amount of souping up will overcome the fact that it's still a boxy vehicle designed to carry around a lot of kids.

"Ultimately, a minivan is a minivan," he said. "You can soup it up as much as you want, but it's still a minivan."


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  • 190 Comments
      saultydog42
      • 3 Years Ago
      The only chrysler product I would ever buy again is one made by mercedes, chrysler use to build a good car but in the late 80,s tghey went to hell and didnt return. They used the same defective transmissions in almost all t6heir mini vans and other cars, even the ones with the mitsubishi engines, like the Daytona's, the same problems existed from the 90 model all the way thru the end of them, that transmission problem they were aware of but continued to pump that same crap out. Also their cars were alway lacking pon electronics and electrical components, so bad that they wouldnt carry a decent warrantee.Take a look at Hyundai, they started out in the 80's with crap for a car, they fell back and restructured their pride, then tyhey came back with a vingence and now have one of the top rated companies, they are building a very high quality product ant a decent price and offer a 10 year 100,000 mile warranty, and they live up to it. Chrysler came out in early 2000's with a 7-70.000 and recended it the following year, their reasoning was, it almost broke them, they couldn't fix that crap. I am a mechanic and I see it all, take a look at the car you drive, Hyundai did and in the transmissions they figured it out as to why the automatic shift transmissions were constantly wearing out and found it was in the way they shift, then they went into the computers and repoogramed them to make the engine RPM's drop when it shifts and then after the transmission shifts, the RPM's come back up, like a stick shift, this allowed the transmission to shift without slipping in and out as it shifted. Little things are what Hyundai has developed that makes their cars exceotional. As long as the hyundai is around, building the product they build today, I will never buy anything else. NO, I am not affiliated in any way to hyundai or any other company, I am retired self employed industrial mechanis and also a disabled AMERICAN VETERAN, I receive nothing from Hyundai except a good car in which i have paid market price for.
        trbilbo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @saultydog42
        Retired too long it seems as all your claims are 15 years out of date. Chrysler actually sells dealer certified pre owneds with an 80,000 mile warranty AND you can buy a LIFETIME drivetrain warrant for very few bucks. The 70's and 80's sucked for everyone who had to buidl in teh USA as the EPA had ZERO clue what clean standards were and change dthem more often than their underwear....driving US makers insane and making structured Eco responses impossible. Yet..... Euro cars were exmpt from the weight of massive safety bumpers and even some smog req'ts for limited production models. Chrysler built GREAT cars going into the 2000's..... BEFORE Mercedes..... and we owned many. 223000 miles on a Neon... sons Stratus RT (son's) at 90000 and never a major repair (gas and oil...period)/ and our 2005 Dakota.... bought dealer cert preowned at 22000 miles an now 99000 miles and drives like new. I too have made a great living as a mechanic and would NEVER own a Korean or Jamanese car as the profits GO OVERSEAS (even if the car is built here on government free land and tax exempt import status) as the Big three build cars of equal of better quality. And if the Gen X writers who have been raised to believe 'forein good/american bad... start driving them... we'l get back to driving the best... Made in the USA. No I don't support car unions... no I don't have ANT auto make affiliation.... Own three fords too and all are bullet proof after 80000 plus miles. Don't hype.. drive... then chose.
        nelbnelson33
        • 3 Years Ago
        @saultydog42
        Yes sir, keep supporting foreign products and you soon won't have a country! They locate here to avoid import taxes and, in many cases, import the parts/components so the profit made is normally the labor to assemble the unit--about twenty-five hours. I know many, many people who have driven Chrysler products for years with minimal problems. You have probably made a mistake or two along the way--did the country abandon you?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @nelbnelson33
          Bud, You are so full of crap it aint funny. Do you think all the so called "American" cars coming into the U.S. through Canada & Mexico are paying an import tax. Those imports you refer to supply more jobs for Americans today than Ford, GM & Chrysler put together. Facts: Ford closed 21 assembly plants (2005-10) in the U.S. then opened 17 outside U.S. borders. Fact: GM closed 45 U.S. plants (2008-10) then opened 35 outside U.S. borders. Chrysler....Not even a U.S. company anymore so Chrysler gets a foreign label in my book.
        gr8bsn
        • 3 Years Ago
        @saultydog42
        2004 Hyundai Accent. 4 cylinders, 5 speed manual. I pounded that car into the ground at a rate of 30K-35K miles a year. To this day, that "cheap" (and I say that in price only) little car is by far the most dependable, most ruggedly built, most reliable & durable vehicle I have ever owned. I have driven Ford, GM, & just about everything from Japan. None of those came close. The trick to that car was the rugged simplicity. There were no gadgets on this car. It also had the coldest AC in any car I ever owned. When I return from my overseas contract, my next car will be a Hyundai (or a KIA, same manufacturer).
      ladn4b
      • 3 Years Ago
      If you are driving ANY Van, you are allready emasculated. Hell, even my wife won't drive one, and she liks pink!
      • 3 Years Ago
      My daughter turned 16 last month and there was just no way we could afford to add her to our existing car insurance policy. I started shopping around for new car insurance and found this site: ( http://tinyurl.com/FreeRateReport ) I just put in my ZIP code and received four quotes instantly after filling out the form. By comparing rates we were actually able to include my daughter in our new policy and not pay anymore per month for car insurance than we were originally paying for just me and my wife!
      sixpackdan
      • 3 Years Ago
      no way in h e l l would i drive a minivan. You can put all the lipstick on it you want its STILL a mini van and one that has no better performance. If you think this will bring them in be my guest but the b/s wont work on me.
      happynewmonth
      • 3 Years Ago
      TOO BAD!! Ya, your minivan sales have slumped, You know why, because they are garbage. My friend who owns a tranny shop has said "Thank God for Dodge minivans, they put my kids through college!" I will never buy another Dodge/Chrysler product again. Shame on me for buying 3 of your cars. I dont care how smooth talking you are Mr. Gillis.
        harleydavid105
        • 3 Years Ago
        @happynewmonth
        If they're so bad why did you buy three? Either they're not so bad or you're a slow learner.
      • 3 Years Ago
      No mention of the gas mileage? What great journalism.
      mikie walker
      • 3 Years Ago
      chrysler has come a long way.i have a 300C and a pacifica.now i baught the 200 and i love it. the car is fast i mean fast.i dont race but it scared the heek out of me when i took it on the parkway and opened it up i did 130mph like nothing. .but like i said it realy scared. me. i had no idea the car could go that fast.. then i looked under the hood.its all motor.6 cyl 6 speed tranny im very impressed.
      magicdog39
      • 3 Years Ago
      My minivan is a 1995 Ford F150 4X4 302 V8 truck!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have driven Chrysler products all my life. My dad worked for Chrysler and retired from there. My mom has the 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan and has loved it since she bought it. So all you jerks who are nay saying Chrysler Shut the He(( up. and to JJ We don't care about your computer generated posts about car insurance.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Sorry Cindy, you need to read this year's Car and Drive and Consumer Reports. Your daddy's cars of yesterday are not worth crap today. If you love a box with wheels, and the Crysler employee discount, go for it!
      69usmc73
      • 3 Years Ago
      Soccoer mom car.....
      rpbahn1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wouldn't care if you put a hemi in it, It's still a freakin mini-van
        harleydavid105
        • 3 Years Ago
        @rpbahn1
        I've owned two mini-vans, both Dodge Caravans. My 1993 has 160,000 miles and still going strong. I would never own an SUV. Too expensive to buy and maintain and terrible fuel mileage. I also own 4 GM cars. Most people only buy an SUV as a status symbol and do not need one for towing or off-roading.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bullshit Norm. My husband made me buy a mini-van and I STILL HATE IT! I feel like I'm driving a damn bus when I'm in it.
        William J
        • 3 Years Ago
        Nadia you said your husband made you buy the van. He didn't make you buy it for him did he?
        J.J.
        • 3 Years Ago
        UGH... Try driving my suburban ~ It is a school bus too! But with 4 kids full time between my hubby & mine, well need something that hauls them, their sports equip and friends... So the suburban-bus it is :) Hauls 9 people and is frequently full... If only I could get it lifted, soon the little one will be big enough to do that!
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