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2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Review

2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Review
June 1, 2011
2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Review
by Rob Rothwell , Auto123.com
Dodge’s Grand Caravan has always been perceived as runner-up to Toyota’s Sienna minivan and Honda’s highly popular Odyssey. That somewhat unjust distinction will soon be trashed—or is that recycled—like yesterday’s newspaper once soccer moms—and pops—become acquainted with the 2011 version of Dodge’s mobile family plan.

My nicely contented Crew trim-level tester started at $27,995. (Photo: Rob Rothwell/Auto123.com)

Pentastar engine is the foundation of change
The single, most influential improvement over last year’s Grand Caravan is the inclusion of Chrysler’s much-lauded Pentastar engine beneath its short hood. This sophisticated mill is finding its way into a multitude of Chrysler/Dodge vehicles, and for good reason.

In this particular application, the 3.6-litre VVT-equipped V6 generates 283 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque @ 4,400 rpm. That’s a huge increase over last year’s engine and a “segment best” according to the Dodge boys.

The boys are also claiming increased fuel economy over last year with the Pentastar’s rating of 12.3L/100km and 7.9L/100km city and highway driving respectively. As is usually the case with vehicles I review, my economy figures were moderately higher than the posted numbers.

Despite quibbles over fuel economy ratings versus real-world economy, the new engine is akin to a heart transplant in an ailing patient. The Pentastar imbues the big van, which by the way only comes in extended length, with plenty of punch, such that soccer dads—or lead-footed moms—shouldn’t feel out-gunned at the field even if their team does.

Along with its ability to out-sprint the opposition, the 2011 Grand Caravan is a smooth operator. The Pentastar mill is a highly refined operator that delivers its potency with notable ease and smoothness, and this is a significant improvement over previous Grand Caravans.

The civilized powerplant is adjoined to a six-speed automatic transmission that features Chrysler’s Auto/Stick electronic manual-mode shift function to leverage the utmost in performance from the Pentastar. Together, the new engine and transmission combo elevate the Grand Caravan’s responsiveness to something more up-ladder than its discounted entry tag of just $20,995 would suggest.

Note – this MSRP figure includes a hefty consumer bonus discount, which is currently available as these lines are being written on the 2011 Grand Caravan.

The 3.6-litre VVT-equipped V6 generates 283 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque @ 4,400 rpm. (Photo: Rob Rothwell/Auto123.com)
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