The Caravan receives a facelift this year, with all new sheet metal that conveys a much more aggressive stance. Caravans come in many models and configurations. The Caravan SE and Caravan Sport are built on the standard 113-inch wheelbase while the Grand Caravan Sport and Grand Caravan ES ride atop 119-inch wheelbase. Optional all-wheel drive (AWD) is available only on the Grand Caravans.
Dodge's version of the popular Chrysler minivan has always been the sportsman of the bunch and that image has been further bolstered on the top of the line ES model. Standard features on the ES include 17-inch wheels and tires and the slick AutoStick transmission. The bigger wheels and the cross-hair grille give the ES a kind of boy racer appeal. The standard engine in both the Grand and Caravan Sport is the silky smooth 3.3-liter V6 producing 180-horsepower. Buyers of the ES model have the option of upgrading to a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 215-horsepower and later this year a 230-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 will be offered. The base Caravan SE employs the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder as its standard engine, with the option to upgrade to the 3.3-liter. Base model SE Caravans begin just under $20K.
Additional engineering efforts center around safety and include dual-stage front airbags, front seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters (this design causes the belt to first tighten up on impact, removing any slack, and then give just slightly to reduce the force of the body against the belt), and optional supplemental side airbags for front seat passengers. There are dual electrically operated side doors and an electrically operated rear liftgate, a nifty removable powered center console that can be positioned between either the front or middle row seats and a liquid crystal video screen with wireless headsets for rear seat passengers. A three-zone automatic temperature control system keeps all the occupants comfortable with separate temperature controls for each front passenger.