So I got to upgrade the long-in-the-tooth Dogevan last week. I was briefly flirting with the idea of downsizing and going with a Mazda5 or a Mistubishi Outlander, based on their ability to serve as a six- and seven-seater respectively in a pinch.
In the end, however, I decided on getting…another Grand Caravan.
Here’s the new Frostbite One, a Dodge Grand Caravan R/T:
(Chicken sold separately.)
It’s pretty tricked-out, being the top trim of the Grand Caravan line. It still seems silly for Dodge to use the hallowed R/T (Road/Track) label for a seven-seat box on wheels, but it does make some concessions to sportiness, as far as that’s possible for a minivan. The suspension is a little more firm (the R/T has a dual-shock setup), and the color scheme is decidedly monochrome with the smoke-colored headlights and fascia.
It’s not a Challenger R/T, but compared to the old Dogevan, this thing flies. The old one had a 170HP V6 bolted to a four-speed automatic transmission. This one has a 283HP V6 bolted to a six-speed. You won’t be taking on any Porsches with it, but for a vehicle of its size, it can haul a respectable amount of ass. You put your foot down hard on the accelerator on an on-ramp, and things will happen. And it gets roughly the same gas mileage as the old engine thanks to the more efficient transmission and newer engine tech.
This is the new workplace:
All leather, with more hidden storage compartments than a Corellian freighter, and with the navigation package that was at the top of my wish list. Not sexy, but comfy and convenient. It makes the old van look very frumpy in comparison.
The kids have a DVD screen in the back that pops out of the ceiling, and wireless infrared headphones so the adults in the front seats don’t have to listen to the fourth straight on-the-road showing of Frozen. And there’s an I/O panel in the bottom of the B-pillar that lets you feed the onboard entertainment display via HDMI or composite cables:
It even has a 110V outlet right underneath, so you can plug in a gaming console to keep the kids busy when you run out of movies. We didn’t have that kind of luxury when I was a kid, no sirree. We had rocks! And we was thankful!
The old Dogevan served us without any trouble for almost eight years, which is why I leaned toward another. Also, I have gotten spoiled by the utility of the full-sized van. Haul seven people or 150 cubic feet of cargo, or any combination thereof, with seats that disappear in the floor at the flick of a lever, and a cargo bay that lets you transport a tall stack of standard 4×8 drywall or plywood sheets if you have to.
If this new Dogevan serves us half as well as the last one did, it was worth the purchase. And just to make sure I don’t get stuck with any random gremlins, I also got the lifetime Mopar bumper-to-bumper warranty with it.
Now to roll my pennies for that supplemental fun vehicle to put into the garage next to this thing. They do have a lovely flame-orange Challenger R/T sitting on the lot…