The revamped 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan is certainly a van, man, but is it a true "man's van?" Dodge certainly hopes so. Like other automakers, the company has infused its family friendly hauler with a little tinge of attitude to help reduce the stigma of owning and driving a minivan.
While the 2011 Grand Caravan shares much with the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge was allowed to put a different twist on its minivan. Dodge describes the 2011 Grand Caravan as "having the driving characteristics of a performance sedan, and a little bit of attitude." A revamped grille, reshaped headlamps, and a chiseled front fascia lend the van an aggressive look, while recalibrated suspension tuning is promised to improve handling.
If nothing else, the new vans will have a little more power. Each model receives Chrysler's new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, which is rated at 283 horsepower and 260 pound feet of torque. Dodge has yet to release fuel economy figures for the revamped van, but notes the engine, coupled with a finessed six-speed automatic, improved aerodynamics, and a lowered ride height will trump the 17/25 mpg (city/highway) of a 2010 model equipped with the 4.0-liter V-6.
Apart from the powertrain, the largest revisions lie within the Grand Caravan's interior. As part of Chrysler's push to renovate interiors, the Grand Caravan's cabin has been completely reworked from head to toe. An all-new instrument panel incorporates a large, sloping, center console, while soft-touch materials are applied to door panels and other frequently touched surfaces. Stow 'n Go seating remains, albeit the seats have been enlarged for comfort and blessed with one-touch operation.
We're most interested to have a look at the 2011 Grand Caravan R/T, which promises to be the most aggressive and masculine Caravan yet, but Dodge isn't releasing information or photos on its ultimate van at this time. The Express, Mainstreet, and Crew models are slated to arrive at dealers by the end of 2010, but the Grand Caravan R/T will debut sometime next spring.
Will Dodge's cosmetic updates and engine overhaul help the Grand Caravan remain competitive against the new Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey? Send us your thoughts and predictions by means of the comments section below.