What Changed for 2009:
- New Rear Cross Path safety system
- Blind-spot-monitoring system now offered
- \"Stow 'n Go\" seating now standard on base SE model
- More equipment for SE model
- Dual DVD entertainment screens grow to 9 inches and gain swiveling third-row screen
- Brakes reworked to be quieter and more effective
- Hard-drive radio grows from 20 to 30 gigabytes and changes name to UConnect Tunes
While other domestic automakers are pulling out of the minivan market, Chrysler-producers of the Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, which together have figured prominently in the minivan market since the introduction of the original Caravan in 1983-believes the minivan will continue to be a strong seller. Last redesigned for 2008, the Grand Caravan is meant to be a living room on wheels, the maker says. With optional Swivel 'n Go seating, the second-row seats can be turned around 180 degrees. Seat belts integrated into the seats allow safe travel for rear-facing passengers. A lightweight table can be set up between the rows for snacking (or gaming) on the go. The other seating option is Dodge's Stow 'n Go system, with second-row seats that fold down into the floor.
Buyers of the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan can choose between two models: SE and SXT. The SE comes with stain-repellant seat fabric; AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; power locks, mirrors, first- and second-row windows, and third-row vent windows; remote keyless entry; cruise control; front air conditioning; tilt steering column; conversation mirror; CD/MP3 player; Stow 'n Go second-row seats; folding third-row bench seat; and P225/65R16 tires on 16-inch steel wheels with wheelcovers. Options include Swivel 'n Go seating; power-operated sliding doors; power rear tailgate; remote engine starting; power-adjustable pedals; UConnect Tunes radio with 30-gigabyte hard drive; Sirius satellite radio; rearview camera; roof rack; single-screen rear-seat entertainment system; and alloy wheels.
In addition to the SE's standard equipment, the Grand Caravan SXT adds power-adjustable pedals; rear air conditioning; 8-way power driver's seat; power-operated sliding doors; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter; universal garage door opener; steering wheel audio controls; Sirius satellite radio; 115-volt power outlet; heated exterior mirrors; LED interior lighting; additional overhead storage; fog lights; and alloy wheels. Options (in addition to those offered on the SE) include leather upholstery; sunroof; heated front seats; UConnect GPS with navigation system; second- and third-row retractable sunshades; premium front center console; trailer towing package; automatic climate control; power-folding third-row seat; UConnect phone wireless cell phone link; rain-sensing wipers; auto-dimming rearview mirror; 9-speaker, 506-watt Infinity sound system; dual-screen rear entertainment system with Sirius Backseat TV; removable rechargeable flashlight; and a Security group with blind-spot monitoring, Rear Cross Path, security alarm, and rear park assist. Also available for the SXT is a 4.0-liter V-6 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a sport-tuned suspension.
The 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SE comes with a 175-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 engine that runs on either gasoline or E85. It drives the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission and carries EPA fuel-economy estimates of 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway. The Grand Caravan SXT is powered by a 197-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 engine or an optional 251-hp, 4.0-liter, 24-valve V-6 engine. Both are backed by a 6-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel-economy estimates for both the 3.8-liter and the 4.0-liter engines are 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway. Grand Caravans equipped with the 4.0-liter V-6 engine also feature stiffer shocks and higher-effort steering. Towing capacity is 1800 pounds; an optional trailer tow prep package, available with the 3.8- and 4.0-liter engines, increases that to 3600 pounds.
Standard safety features on the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan include dual front air bags; head-protecting 3-row side curtain air bags; three Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) child-seat anchors; 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist; traction control; electronic stability control; and a tire-pressure-monitoring system. The available Swivel 'n Go second-row seats have the seat belt integrated with the seat frame, and Chrysler's internal crash tests have verified that passengers are safe riding backwards as well as forwards, the manufacturer says. Optional features include integrated second-row child booster seats, rear park assist, rearview camera, and the new Rear Cross Path and blind-spot-monitoring systems.
Blind-spot monitoring uses radar sensors to detect vehicles in the van's blind spots and warns the driver with lights in the side mirrors or a driver-selectable chime. Rear Cross Path is activated when the van is in reverse. It uses radar sensors to detect vehicles crossing behind the Grand Caravan and warns the driver with lights in the side mirrors and an audible chime.
In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Grand Caravan has earned 5 stars for all passengers in front and side impacts, and 4 stars for rollover resistance. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the Grand Caravan has earned \"Good\" ratings for frontal offset and side-impact protection and a \"Marginal\" rating for rear crash protection.
The 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan's Swivel 'n Go seating allows the van to be configured as a family room on the go. The optional center console, located between the front seats, slides far enough backwards to deliver drive-in drinks to passengers in the second row. The Grand Caravan SXT's optional dual-screen entertainment system allows the screens to work independently; video sources include the built-in DVD player, two auxiliary audio/video input jacks, or Sirius Backseat TV. (The dashboard screen will also play movies from the built-in DVD player so long as the transmission is in park.) There's a 115-volt outlet to plug in a video game system, VCR or additional DVD player. Stereo choices include the UConnect Tunes and UConnect GPS systems, both of which feature a 30-gigabyte hard drive that can store music and picture files. UConnect GPS adds a navigation system with voice activation and real-time traffic. With UConnect GPS, the hard drive also holds navigation map information.