2005 Caravan New Car Test Drive
Chrysler has redesigned the seating system in the Dodge Grand Caravan and the result is one of the most versatile interiors in the industry. The second-row and third-row seats flip down into the floor, leaving a huge, perfectly flat cargo compartment behind the front seats. No other minivan currently has second-row seats that disappear into the floor.
With seating for seven, the Grand Caravan can carry half the little league team with room left over for their stuff. Selectively folding away the seats gives its owner great versatility in hauling a mix of passengers and cargo. No need to pull seats out and store them in the garage or to try to put stuff on top of them. Fold them all down and the Grand Caravan offers more cargo space than most sport utilities, including the mammoth Chevy Suburban. And its cargo space is more accessible and more convenient than that of SUVs.
Other new and revised features further improve the Grand Caravan for 2005, making it a compelling choice among a strong group of competitors that have been recently been redesigned. Also more compelling: pricing, which has been dropped by an average of $3,000.
The shorter Caravan models are largely unchanged and have the old seating system. Dodge added new features to the Caravan for 2004, including a tire pressure monitor. Its stereo systems feature in-dash, six-disc CD changers.
On the road, the Dodge Grand Caravan and Caravan offer a smooth ride and responsive handling. These are family-friendly vehicles that offer the features and flexibility most buyers want and there's a model for every budget. Most models come with a powerful V6 engine that delivers strong acceleration for merging onto hectic freeways. Anti-lock brakes and side-impact airbags are available.
Caravan is the short van, Grand Caravan is the long van, 11 inches longer. (Note: Prices include the destination charge, which is $680 on most models.) The SE trim levels do not come with the new Stow 'n Go seating.
Caravan SE ($18,995) is the base level and comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, hand-crank windows, manually adjusted mirrors, and a limited list of options. It comes standard with air conditioning, variable intermittent wipers, AM/FM/CD stereo, and 215/70 tires on 15-inch steel wheels.
Caravan SXT ($22,295) is the short van equipped with a 3.3-liter V6 and a higher level of standard equipment, though it does not get Stow 'n Go. SXT adds second-row bucket seats, dual-zone manual air conditioning, tilt steering, cruise control, power windows, power heated mirrors, power locks with remote keyless entry, an upgraded AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo, a rear window defroster, sunscreen glass, 215/65 tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels, a tire-pressure monitor, and other niceties, plus an expanded list of options.
Grand Caravan SE ($21,995) is a long-wheelbase base model, similarly equipped to the Caravan SE. But it's powered by the 3.3-liter V6 engine. Grand Caravan SE Plus ($24,990) adds the Stow 'n Go seating, three-zone air conditioning, anti-lock brakes (ABS), and a trip computer.
Grand Caravan SXT ($26,995) is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 and comes standard with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, low-speed traction control, 16-inch tires and aluminum wheels. Along with Stow 'n Go, the Grand Caravan SXT features second-row adjustable seats, a 60/40 split third-row bench with tailgate feature, front and rear cargo nets, dual power sliding doors, fog lamps, rear heat/air-conditioning system, roof rack, eight-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering-wheel audio controls, overhead console with trip computer and compass/temperature gauge, and a new carbon weave center stack bezel.
Side-impact curtain airbags are optional. All-wheel drive has been dropped from the menu for 2005. Packages are available in a dizzying array of combinations.