America's top minivan just got better.
The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan is a restyled, fifth-generation model with the most amenities ever in a minivan, including seats that swivel, an onboard table, stain- and odor-resistant seat fabric and a 20-gigabyte computer hard drive.
The Grand Caravan also offers an improved ride, first-in-a-minivan automatic transmission with six forward gears for better acceleration and smoother shifts as well as a new, more powerful V-6 engine topping out at 251 horsepower.
Best of all, the newly revamped vehicle retains its across-the-board, five-out-of-five-stars rating in federal government crash tests.
Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $22,470 for a base SE model with 175-horsepower V-6 and four-speed automatic transmission. A Grand Caravan SXT with 197-horsepower V-6 and six-speed automatic starts at $27,535.
This is within the range of other minivans, including the 2008 Honda Odyssey, which starts at $26,495 with 244-horsepower V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission, and the 2008 Kia Sedona, which starts at $21,420 with 250-horsepower V-6 and five-speed automatic.
Dodge's Caravan - Grand or otherwise - has been the nation's top minivan in sales for 24 straight years, dating to its debut in 1983. At the time, station wagons had been the family vehicle of choice for decades.
But the Caravan, as it was called then, helped launch a new segment of front-wheel drive, smaller-than-full-size vans that fit inside garages easily, have three rows of seats and a higher seat position above the road than cars had.
Today, after growing larger, more powerful and more feature-laden and named the Grand Caravan, the Dodge family van still leads in annual sales, topping 176,100 last year.
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