Can you believe it? The Chrysler Group's new minivans for 2008 will mark the fifth generation of these all-purpose people haulers. The 2008 lineup includes the Chrysler Town and Country, which we showed you yesterday, and the Dodge Grand Caravan. Reaction to the styling of the Town and Country in the comments has been mixed, and so we expect a similar reaction to the Grand Caravan. And while the Grand Caravan does bear a resemblance to the Chevy Venture, we actually like its simple, purposeful lines. It actually looks more compact than the egg-shaped model it replaces, which is a good thing.
The point must be made, however, that minivan buyers are generally not placing style at the top of their must-have list when visiting dealerships. For them, it's all about what the vehicle can do for me and my family. DCX knew that to protect its position as the number one purveyor of minivans that it would have to stuff more features and options between its bumpers than the competition. For 2008, that task was made by easier by the decision to cancel the short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan, so now both minivans ride on an identical 121.2-inch wheelbase.
More of our thoughts can be found after the jump, along with an Overview on these minivans from Chrysler, and you can peruse the Chrysler Town & Country gallery of high-resolution images here or check out the new gallery of Dodge Grand Caravan shots.
The most attractive feature placed between those bumpers has to be the new Swivel 'n Go seating system that allows the two second-row captain's chair to rotate 180-degrees and face the rear bench seat while still maintaining the ability to be stowed below the van's floor. The rear bench seat can also fold flat and adds a power-folding option. Stow all the seats beneath the floor and you've got a floor as flat as a runway all the way up to the front seats.
Other unique touches on the Caravan (and T&C) include a two-tier center console that can slide up 21 inches forward and back, two large glove boxes (one able to chill drinks), airplane-like pinpoint LED reading lamps, giant power second-row windows with retractable sun shades, available heated seats for the second row, a rechargable flashlight built into the rear-quarter panel and an umbrella holder. A lot of these items the competition just isn't offering, which gives Chrysler and Dodge a distinct advantage in a market that is at best holding steady. While the well of new customers is likely drying up, these two brands are in a good position to score a lot of conquest sales from the competition.
The Caravan and T&C also sport an impressive entertainment system that features a touch-screen navigation unit combined with the optional MyGIG 20GB hard-drive. Giving customers the option of not only having a screen for each row of seats but also being able to play different video on each screen at the same time is great, but we wish the MyGIG was capable of outputting digital video stored on its hard drive to the screens.
Finally there are the engines, which for 2008 will for the first time include a large, 4.0-liter V6 producing 240 hp and 253 ft-lbs. of torque mated to a six-speed automatic. Customers can also opt for a 3.8-liter V6 making 198 hp and 230 ft-lbs. of torque, again with a six-speed, or a 3.3-liter flex-fuel V6 mated to a four-speed auto that makes 170 hp and 205 ft-lbs. of torque.
ALL-NEW 2008 DODGE GRAND CARAVAN AND CHRYSLER TOWN & COUNTRY MINIVANS RAISE THE BAR FOR THE MINIVAN SEGMENT
- Fifth generation of industry-leading Chrysler Group minivans to arrive this fall
- All-new exterior and interior design for a more contemporary appearance
- Thirty-five new or improved features make the 2008 Chrysler Group minivans "family rooms on wheels"
- Five models, three distinct seating and storage systems and three powertrains, including a minivan-first six-speed transaxle, offer the right ingredients for any active lifestyle
The all-new 2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans once again prove they have the right ingredients to be the best vehicles to move people and cargo. With 35 new and improved features, the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country aren't just practical vehicles, they also have the right mix to be "family rooms on wheels," with something for everyone to enjoy.
"The all-new 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan spice up the minivan recipe by offering an all-new contemporary appearance, five different models, three distinct seating and storage systems, unmatched entertainment systems and the safety you expect and deserve," said George Murphy, Senior Vice President – Chrysler Group Marketing. "Add in three powertrain options, clever interior features and industry-leading functionality, and you have a recipe that will be a favorite with any family."
The newest ingredient for functional family seating is the all-new Swivel 'n Go™ seating system. Swivel 'n Go offers second row seats that swivel 180 degrees to face the third row with a removable table that installs between the two rows, covered storage bins in the floor of the second row, third-row uncovered storage and fold-in-the-floor third-row seating. Swivel 'n Go also offers an available industry-first integrated child booster seat in the second-row quad chair and an available minivan-exclusive one-touch power-folding third-row 60/40 bench seat.
"Chrysler Group engineers turned the tables on traditional seat systems to come up with a technology that lets families have more choices of how to spend their time while traveling," said Larry Lyons, Vice President – Chrysler Group Front-wheel-drive Product Team. "With Swivel 'n Go, second- and third-row passengers can face each other to have a conversation, play games or have a meal on the go."
Safety is a key part of any minivan recipe, and that continues to be true with the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. All-row supplemental side-curtain air bags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with traction control and brake assist, LATCH child seat anchor system and a patented, energy-absorbing steering column are among the standard safety features included in the 2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans. Innovations like an industry-first integrated child booster seat, ParkView™ rear back-up camera, a rearview interior conversation mirror, integrated child safety seat and ParkSense® rear back-up system also ensure peace of mind while traveling.
MINIVAN INNOVATION LEADERSHIP
The modern minivan was invented by the former Chrysler Corporation in 1983. Since then, the Chrysler Group has sold more than 11 million minivans and invented more than 60 minivan firsts that not only have revolutionized the minivan segment, but made their way into other vehicle segments as well.
"Chrysler Group is the leader in bringing innovations to the minivan segment, and those innovations seem to have an uncanny way of ending up in other products," said Lyons. "Integrated child safety seats, dual-zone temperature controls, a power liftgate and DVD entertainment are just some of the features that started in a minivan, but are now available in other vehicle segments."
For 2008, the Chrysler Town & Country (sold as the Chrysler Grand Voyager in most markets outside North America) and Dodge Grand Caravan offer value, functionality, safety and a package of innovative features that no other manufacturer can match. With 35 new or improved features, the all-new 2008 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan offer consumers a home away from home.
"The 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan offer the best amenities for today's busy families," said Murphy. "With a dual DVD system that plays different media at the same time, pinpoint LED lighting to read by, a table to play games or finish homework, a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic, power sliding doors and liftgate and YES Essentials® cloth seats, every member of the family will enjoy their journey."
UNMATCHED FUNCTIONALITY AND ENTERTAINMENT
The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country have spiced up the recipe for minivan success to include a place for everything. A premium, multi-function, front-row sliding console, dual glove boxes, second-row covered storage bins, third-row storage area and clever storage bins and pockets offer more places to store things than ever before.
Three distinct seating configurations are available for 2008 in North America. They include a second-row bench seat with second-row covered storage bins and third-row fold-in-the-floor seating, a Stow 'n Go® seating and storage system that offers the only second- and third-row fold-in-the-floor seats in the industry and the new Swivel 'n Go seating that allows the second row seats to swivel 180 degrees to face rearward. Swivel 'n Go also includes a removable table that fits between the second and third rows with a fold-in-the-floor third-row seat. A one-touch power-folding third-row seat also is available.
Available comfort and convenience features include a new, removable sliding front console that is large enough to store a purse; remote start; heated first- and second-row leather or cloth seats; rearview interior conversation mirror; YES Essentials stain-resistant, odor-resistant, anti-static cloth fabric; a removable flashlight in the rear quarter panel; first- and second-row power windows; second- and third-row retractable sun shades; power sliding doors; power liftgate with power button on the key fob and rear-pillar, ambient halo lighting; movable, pinpoint Light Emitting Diode (LED) reading lamps; map lights; and a dual- or tri-zone heating and cooling system.
"To get the best recipe of comfort, security and flexibility that fits any lifestyle, we added comfort features like remote start, heated first- and second-row cloth or leather seats and ambient lighting, then mixed in standard safety features like all-row supplemental side-curtain air bags and ESP," said Ann Fandozzi, Director – Chrysler Group Front-wheel-drive Product Marketing. "Clever features found in the 2008 Chrysler Group minivans include a 'Swiss-army-knife-like' sliding front console and a removable flashlight in the rear quarter panel."
Entertainment features include a dual DVD, multimedia entertainment system that can play different media at the same time, MyGIG™ CD/DVD/HDD/MP3/satellite radio with voice-activated capability, touch screen and real-time traffic and navigation, UConnect hands-free communication system with Bluetooth® technology, mesh side pockets on the second-row seats that can hold iPods, hand-held gaming systems or beverages, 110V inverter, two second-row output/input jacks with a 12-volt power outlet and an overhead console with bins large enough to store headphones.
Five models and three powertrains are available for the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. Dodge offers two models: the Dodge Grand Caravan SE and Dodge Grand Caravan SXT. Chrysler offers three models: the Chrysler Town & Country LX, the Chrysler Town & Country Touring and the Chrysler Town & Country Limited.
Powertrain choices for North America include a new 4.0-liter V-6 aluminum engine mated to a new six-speed transaxle that produces 240 hp (179 kW) and 253 lb.-ft. (343 N•m) of torque, a 3.8-liter V-6 aluminum engine mated to a new six-speed transaxle that produces 198 hp (148 kW) and 230 lb.-ft. (312 N•m) of torque or a 3.3-liter flex-fuel-capable (FFV) V-6 aluminum engine mated to a four-speed transaxle that produces 170 hp (127 kW) and 205 lb.-ft. (278 N•m) of torque. The varied powertrain options provide a pleasant driving experience in a variety of conditions.
"Chrysler Group has been a leader in flex-fuel-capable vehicles," said Lyons. "We sold our first minivan capable of running on E85 in 1998, and since then, Chrysler Group has sold more than 1,330,000 flex-fuel minivans."
Full model details and feature availability for markets outside the United States will be released ahead of the vehicles' launch in each respective market.
The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans will be built at Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and St. Louis South Assembly Plant in Fenton, Missouri.
The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country are expected to be in dealerships in the United States in the fall of 2007.