Test Drive: 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 4.0 litre car test drives dodge
2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 4.0-litre. Click image to enlarge

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Dodge Canada

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Review and photos by Anthony Murdoch

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2009 Dodge Grand Caravan

Calgary, Alberta – Though the Grand Caravan was completely redesigned for 2008, there is one significant change for 2009: a more powerful and more fuel-efficient 4.0-litre V6 engine, which was available only in the pricier Chrysler Town and Country minivan last year, is now optional in the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT. The 251-horsepower 4.0-litre SOHC V6 powerplant replaces last year’s optional 197-horsepower 3.8-litre OHV V6. Official Energuide fuel consumption figures (L/100 km) for the 4.0-litre engine are 12.2/7.9 city/hwy, while the 3.8 engine was 13.3/8.7 city/hwy.

For 2009, there are four trim levels to choose from: the base SE Canada Value Package and 25th Anniversary edition which both start at $21,195, the CV Cargo Van which starts at $21,595, the SE Stow N’ Go which starts at $23,545 and the SXT which starts at $26,045.

My SXT tester with the optional 4.0-litre V6 came with a standard six-speed automatic gearbox: this new, more refined V6 powertrain is definitely something to consider, especially if you tow regularly.

The SXT comes well equipped, including all of the standard features found on the base SE, such as air conditioning, speed control, fold-in-the floor third row seats, ABS, ESP with traction control, power windows and locks, curtain airbags for all three rows, keyless entry, privacy glass, CD/MP3 player and four-wheel disc brakes and YES Essentials stain resistant seat fabric. For the higher price you get three-zone climate control with rear roof mounted heater/AC controls, power rear quarter vents, power rear windows, fog lamps, leather shift knob, trip computer, front floor console, adjustable pedals and Stow ‘N’ Go seats for the second row.

Options on my tester included the aforementioned 4.0-litre V6 with six-speed transmission ($1,600); the Safe and Sound Group ($1,550 and includes Entertainment package 1, which consists of a second row DVD player, rear sunshades, rear backup camera, and second-row bench seat with integrated child seats (replaces the Stow ‘N’ Go seats)); power remote entry group ($1,800 and includes power eight-way drivers seat with manual lumbar support, plus power tailgate); 17-inch wheels ($225); and SIRIUS Satellite Radio ($275). The total as-tested price including the $100 A/C tax and $1,350 Freight and PDI was $33,245. The price does not include GST or PST.

Interior Impressions

Space is the name of the game with the Grand Caravan and although there is seating for seven, the Caravan was designed to please even those who end up sitting in the dreaded back seat location. It is also a very kid and family-friendly vehicle, as can be seen from all of the options that come standard on the SXT version.

My tester came with the Safe and Sound group package, which along with the second-row DVD player and wireless headphones replaces the second–row Stow ‘N’ Go seats with a bench with integrated child seats. This option is a godsend for those with small children, as it means no more fussing about installing a child seat. It also leaves more room for your kids, as child seats can be very bulky. When not in use, you simply push the cover up, returning the seat to a regular version for an adult.