2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT (518)

Overview:
This week I tested the 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT. It used to be we referred to these vehicles as “Mini Vans”, but they are anything but “Mini”.

If you’ve read any of my columns about this class vehicle (Special Purpose) you know I think they are the best thing since the horseless carriage was invented at the end of the 19th century.

And by the way, (Special Purpose) as a class is a misnomer. If anything it is a “General Purpose” vehicle, or a “Family Vehicle” or a “Company Van”. Yes it is more for hauling people, but it is also adaptable to hauling clean freight. If you have to haul dirt you’d buy a pickup truck – so much for the classification system.

The reason I like these so much is that they are so useful. And I don’t consider the family a special purpose classification use. The family does “Everything” and for the suburban family there is so much to do in numbers and this is a vehicle that seats 7 adults. Consider carpooling kids to school, soccer, little league and all the other multi kid activities. Camping and other group trips, and boy’s night out to the ballgame, and the girl’s night out to Chippendales. We all know it’s the guy or gal with the van who volunteers to drive, which is both good and bad news.

Handling & Performance:

Easy to drive. Easy to enter and exit. Easy to load with passengers and cargo. Easy. And when you get it all loaded, the 3.8 liter 215 horsepower V6 engine motors with Ease too. Because vans are built low to the ground they handle better than their cousin, the SUV which is built high off the ground for all the off roading they will never be asked to do. And before you tell me you can’t take a van off road like you can the SUV, I’ll remind you that less than 5% of all SUV’s will ever get their paws dirty off the black top.

Styling: 

Timeless. There isn’t much that has changed or varied from the original design other than being less boxy or put another way, more streamlined. It will likely stay that way until the emergence of fuel cell or other propulsion vehicles that will allow a significant change in design.

Fit and Finish:

Very good and comparable to most other competitors. But perhaps this old dog sees a giant leap in quality from generations past of Chrysler products. I’ve been asked and some have commented that Daimler / Chrysler is a very positive move and the Mercedes-Benz quality is beginning to show up in all models of this German / American brand. The evolution has been very noticeable. 

Cost:

Outstanding for what you get in a van like this.

Conveniences:

It only gets better from year to year with the technological revolution. Before the year is out high tech things, will be obsolete and thus everything is “Throw away”. And it’s not because it still doesn’t function or it has worn out, but rather it has been replaced by newer and better. The benefit to car buyers is the wide array of conveniences available for not a lot of money. Perhaps the most notable convenience on the van is the power sliding side doors, which is a must, in my opinion.

Consumer Recommendation:

Perhaps the most impressive competitor is the Kia Sedona. I would start out testing this and that before the others.

The Competition:

Dodge Caravan $18-26,000, Toyota Sienna $23-37,000, Oldsmobile Silhouette $28-37,000, Nissan Quest $24-32,000, Mercury Monterey $29-35,000, Mazda MPV $23-28,000, Kia Sedona $20-22,000, Chrysler Town & Country $21-35,000, Ford Freestar $22-33,000.

Good News:

Conveniences standard includes power sliding doors, Easy, fabulous function, smooth ride and it is the product of a new and better company – Daimler / Chrysler.

Bad News:

There really is none.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter V6 215 hp engine with front wheel drive, 4-speed auto trans, front air bags, 4-wheel anti lock disc brakes, traction control, child seat anchor system, power sliding doors, stowable rear seating, climate control front and rear, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer, tilt column with leather wrapped steering wheel with radio and cruise controls, stereo with cassette and CD changer, six speakers, eight way power drivers seat, front and rear 12V outlets, roof rack, fog lights and heated power fold away mirrors.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing: 

MSRP $26,315.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2004 – An Automotive Love Affair

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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