2008-2011 Chrysler Town & Country and 2008-2011 Dodge Caravan Minivans
The minivans were made in Chrysler’s high-quality Windsor, Ontario plant. There were five models, three seating and storage systems, and three powertrains, including the first six-speed automatic installed in a minivan.
See the 2011 minivans!
For 2009, Chrysler added blind spot monitoring and rear cross path systems. The 2010 Dodge Caravan / Chrysler Town & Country gained active head restraints for the front row, three-zone manual climate controls (SE), rear-obstacle detection display in the EVIC (with Security Group), and a new 3.16:1 final drive ratio in the SXT / 4 liter, bringing gas mileage to 17 city, 25 highway, the best for any minivan
Also see Cargo and Commercial Vans.
The Swivel ’n Go™ seats brought back memories of the 1978 B-vans and the 1967 Imperial’s Director’s Chair:* the middle row seats swiveled to face the third row, with a removable table between the two rows, covered storage bins in the floor of the second row, third-row uncovered storage and fold-in-the-floor third-row seating. The seats were safety-tested in both directions.
Swivel ’n Go had an optional industry-first integrated child booster seat in the second-row quad chair and an optional one-touch power-folding third-row 60/40 bench seat, not available in other minivans.
Stow 'n Go was standard and Swivel 'n Go was an option; a standard bench middle row would also be available, based on popular demand. The second row Swivel seats did not stow, but they were removeable (they were on wheels). Third row seats always stowed into the floor, regardless of the seat system you chose; and the second row covered storage bins come with all seat systems. Eurovans were made in Canada, as was the Volkswagen variant.
This was a completely new model from the ground up, including a new chassis, with MacPherson struts up front and twist bars in back.
In Mexico, the prior short-wheelbase Chrysler Voyager continued to be sold through 2008, using components built in America and assembled at a Mitsubishi joint-venture plant in China.
AutoWeek praised the Chrysler Town & Country after a 32,761 mile test drive. The August 10, 2009 edition started its wrap-up by saying, “If only the ... Town & Country wasn’t a minivan, we’d call it perfect.” They encountered no problems in their journey, and at the end said that “Every single bit of this van still works like new.” Their heavily loaded vehicle performanced nearly all AutoWeek’s past extended test vehicles. The said their front wheel drive van “plugged through snow deep enough to stop buses and close schools” without fuss, with gas mileage averaging 19.7 combined (ranging from 16 to 25). The article said, “it makes us believers in Chrysler quality and technology.”
2009 Chrysler minivan changes
Dodge Grand Caravan got optional blind spot monitoring, rain-sensitive wipers, and rear cross path systems; the 4-liter SXT (with 28L package) got a new sport-tuned suspension. Caravan SE got standard Stow n Go and stain-repellant seat fabric, cruise, a nicer gauge cluster with tachometer, three rows of power seats, floor mats, tinted glass, and body-colored door handles and moldings. SXT was given a roofrack and, optionally, better steering wheel with EVIC controls. Crimson and green paint were added to SE and SXT's list, and badging was changed across the board. SXT 28L packages got chromed daylight opening trim. The UConnect phone option on SXT now included an iPod interface. Across the board, upgraded brakes reduced noise and harshness while improving performance. Options packages were upgraded. With late availability, larger nine-inch dual overhead DVD screens with swiveling third row was added. (Most of this was predicted by oh20.)
The 4.0 liter V6 went up to 251 hp and 17/25 mpg — the best of any minivan sold in the U.S., and better than the smaller 3.3 and 3.8 liter engines.
Chrysler Town & Country got pretty much the same changes as the Dodge Grand Caravan, above — plus SmartBeam® headlamps on Touring and Limited.
Blind spot monitoring: (Aided driver when changing lanes if being passed by or passing unseen vehicles)
- Required no customer input
- Active any time vehicle was moving forward
- Driver notified of vehicle(s) in blind spot via illuminated icon in mirror; customer-selected audible chime
- Dual ultra-wideband radar sensors
Rear Cross Path (RCP) System
- Chrysler exclusive: not available on any other vehicle
- In parking lots, warned drivers (typically backing out of parking spaces) of traffic moving toward their vehicle
- Activated any time vehicle is in Reverse
- Driver notified of vehicle(s) crossing behind vehicle via an illuminated icon in mirror, and with an audible chime
- RCP included with Blind Spot Monitoring System
The Dodge Caravan Cargo Van got vinyl window shades outside (for privacy), full-width cargo dividers, wire mesh and finally! solid metal window interior inserts to avoid broken windows, a cargo-area floor mat, and molded wall liners; fleet orders got new premium options and the ability to delete side-curtain airbags and interior trim.
2010 Dodge Grand Caravan / Chrysler Town & Country changes
The 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan / Chrysler Town & Country gained active head restraints for the front row, three-zone manual climate controls (SE), rear-obstacle detection display in the EVIC (with Security Group), and a new 3.16:1 final drive ratio in the SXT/4 liter, bringing gas mileageto 17 city, 25 highway, the best for any minivan. One source wrote, "Swivel n Go is available only in leather now, and if you opt for Swivel n Go as well as the Dual DVD package, you will now get swiveling 3rd Row DVD screen so that the second row passengers can still watch a movie and/or Satellite TV." (This appeared to be true).
Chrysler minivan benefits that haven’t gotten front-page treatment
Kathy Graham said that engineers tried hard to keep weight down, despite the new features. The wind tunnel process started early and involved the stylists; many changes were made, especially to the mirrors, and windstream studies led to the rear spoiler and holes in the front fascia. As a result, the new minis were much more slippery than the 2007s, helping them to achieve similar gas mileage despite the extra features, weight, and power, and with lower wind noise.
Parents had been buying flimsy add-on rear-view interior mirrors for years to check on their kids; the built in version provides a clearer picture with more convenience. Given what kids do, we wouldn’t be surprised if it saved a few lives - even if the distraction of looking at it might take a couple as well.
Other 2008 minivan facts: Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan
Safety continued to be emphasized, with all-row supplemental side-curtain air bags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with traction control and brake assist, the industry-first integrated child booster seat, rear back-up camera, a rearview interior mirror, integrated child safety seat, and ParkSense® rear back-up system.
“The 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan offer the best amenities for today’s busy families,” said Murphy. “With a dual DVD system that plays different media at the same time, pinpoint LED lighting to read by, a table to play games or finish homework, a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic, power sliding doors and liftgate and YES Essentials® cloth seats, every member of the family will enjoy their journey.”
Storage space abounds, with a multi-function, front-row sliding console, dual glove boxes, second-row covered storage bins, third-row storage area, and clever storage bins and pockets.
Three seating configurations were available for 2008 in North America: a second-row bench seat with second-row covered storage bins and third-row fold-in-the-floor seating, a Stow ’n Go® seating and storage system with the only second- and third-row fold-in-the-floor seats in the industry, and the new Swivel ’n Go seating that allowed the second row seats to swivel 180 degrees to face rearward. Swivel ’n Go also included a removable table that fit between the second and third rows with a fold-in-the-floor third-row seat. A one-touch power-folding third-row seat also was available. (Third row seats stow into the floor regardless of the seat system; second row seats stow if you did not get the Swivel seats.)
Convenience features (some were optional) included a new, removable sliding front console that was large enough to store a purse; remote start; heated first- and second-row leather or cloth seats; interior conversation mirror; stain-resistant, odor-resistant, anti-static cloth fabric; a removable flashlight in the rear quarter panel; first- and second-row power windows; second- and third-row retractable sun shades; power sliding doors; power liftgate with power button on the key fob and rear-pillar, ambient halo lighting; movable, pinpoint Light Emitting Diode (LED) reading lamps; map lights; and a dual- or tri-zone heating and cooling system.
Entertainment features included an entertainment system that could play different DVDs at the same time, MyGIG™ CD/DVD/HDD/MP3/satellite radio with voice-activated capability, touch screen and real-time traffic and navigation, hands-free cellphone system, mesh side pockets on the second-row seats, 110V inverter, two second-row output/input jacks with a 12-volt power outlet and an overhead console with bins large enough to store headphones. New to the industry was streaming video, supplied by Sirius satellites. The heated wiper blades of years past were replaced by a more powerful, more carefully directed defroster.
The five models were the Dodge Grand Caravan SE and SXT, and Chrysler Town & Country LX, Touring, and Limited. There were no tuning differences between the two brands; nearly all differences were visual. Three powertrains were available in 2008, starting with the 240 horsepower 4.0 liter V6 with six-speed automatic; 198 hp 3.8 liter V6 with six-speed automatic; and 170 hp 3.3 liter V6 with four-speed automatic replacing the 2.4 liter four-cylinder. The 3.3 was flexible-fuel certified, and could run 85% ethanol. The six-speed automatic was retuned, with different shift points, for the minivan’s different weight and desired driving characteristics.
Buyers outside North America could buy diesel-powered minivans, as in the past. See “Minivan Alternatives” for possible future powertrain options.
For 2009, the 4.0 liter V6 went up to 251 hp and 17/25 mpg.
For more photos and seat details, see our auto show coverage.
The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans were built at Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and St. Louis South Assembly Plant in Fenton, Missouri.
Kathy Graham was head of minivan publicity. Full of energy and coming from a family of motorcycle racers, she actually knew enough to provide our earlier reference to the 1967 Imperial Director’s Chair. At an event in New York’s Times Square, she answered our numerous questions about minivan alternatives. These questions arose largely from expressions of interest in Allpar’s forums, which admittedly did not tend to be a representative sample of customers.
- Six-speed automatic with 3.3 engine. This was discussed at Chrysler for a considerable period. The six speed was a good automatic, with a first gear that allowed for quick takeoff; it would have been helpful for the 3.3 to have that low first gear and multitude of gear ratios when pushing the heavy minivan. Countering that was the value proposition - the six speed cost more to build, and Chrysler was already dropping the four cylinder and short wheelbase models. In addition, the four speed actually worked better with the 3.3, according to Kathy, because of the shift points and ratios. It was being discussed for the future, but no decision had been made.
- Performance version. A performance minivan, such as an SRT version, would do much to dispel the notion that minivans were dull and only for soccer moms to shuffle kids in (as though something is wrong with that). Ralph Gilles raced his own minivan, and says there was plenty of room inside for a Hemi. A performance van - either R/T or SRT - was apparently under constant review.
- Diesel. Americans were, according to market research, simply not ready for a diesel minivan; there were a small number of people very enthusiastic for one, though. Chrysler did make a diesel for Europe and would be making it in the United States or Canada - the Graz, Austria plant no longer made minis. People appeared to be more ready for diesels in SUVs. That said, a diesel minivan would boost either towing capacity or gas mileage, and the gas mileage increase would be very useful for people who did not get any benefit from hybrids.
- Stick-shift. The market was far too small even when Chrysler did make a stick-shift minivan, a vehicle sought after today if also equipped with a turbocharger. She estimated about 900 sales per year, too few (in Allpar’s opinion) to justify stocking the parts in American dealers and going through EPA and crash tests. In addition, stick-shift vehicles tend to sit for much longer periods on dealer lots.
- All wheel drive. Incompatible with Stow-n-Go; again, the take rate was very low, with fewer than 10% of buyers opting for the AWD. While very useful in some areas, AWD would have required (based on our conversations with others) substantial cost to engineer and produced two different floorpans.
- Short wheelbase. Only a small percentage of people bought short-wheelbase minivans because they wanted a smaller van; most were looking for reduced cost. Chrysler hoped to fill that desire with the 3.3 liter powered base model, which they believed had strong value.
Why a diesel? The 2.8 liter VM/Detroit Diesel engine with an automatic in 2007 UK Voyagers got 33.6 mpg, combined cycle (28 USA mpg), while the 2.4 liter - even with a manual transmission - got only 28.5 mpg (24 USA mpg), and had slightly lower performance. (Imperial gallons were bigger than US gallons.)
The Volkswagen version of the Chrysler minivan
The Volkswagen Routan minivan was based on the Chrysler and Dodge minivan platform, and was sold only in North America (it debuted in 2008). Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda said, "With our manufacturing and platform engineering flexibility, we can deliver a high-quality product specifically tailored to Volkswagen's customers' tastes with little or no substitution effect on the current Chrysler and Dodge minivan lineup."
2008-2010 Dodge Grand Caravan Specifications (also for Chrysler Town & Country)
The 4.0 liter engine was originally rated at 240 hp and 253 lb-ft. As of October 2007, the Dodge web site lifted the ratings. The 3.3 liter engine and 3.8 liter engines both fell in power; the 2.4 liter engine was dropped and the 4.0 added. EPA estimates were based on 2008 figures and were identical to 2007 gas-mileage estimates incorporating the EPA’s 2007-to-2008 correction factor. It was possible that engines were retuned so that peak power came earlier and stayed longer (a broader torque curve), at the cost of a small reduction in peak horsepower numbers.
|4.0 liter||251 hp (187 kW)||259 lb.-ft. (351 N•m)||6 speed||16/23 (2008)
|3.8 liter||200 hp||245 lb-ft||6 speed||16/23|
|3.3 liter||180 hp||210 lb-ft||4 speed||17/24|
|Overhang — Front||37.6 (955.4)|
|Overhang — Rear||43.7 (1108.9)|
|Track — Front||65.0 (1651.0)|
|Track — Rear||64.8 (1645.9)|
|Overall Length||202.5 (5142.5)|
|Overall Width||76.9 (1953.2)|
|Overall Width with Mirrors||88.5 (2246.8)|
|Overall Height||68.9 (1750.0)|
|Liftover Height||24.4 (619.9)|
|Cargo Width at Wheelhouse||49.03 (1245.5)|
|Angle of Approach (Curb Load)||14.3°|
|Angle of Departure (Curb Load)||18.7°|
|Breakover Angle (Curb Load)||14.5°|
|Minimum Running Ground Clearance (Curb Load)||6.1 (154.2)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity, gal. (L)||20.5 (77.6)|
|EPA Total Interior Passenger Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m)||163.5 (4.63)/156.1 (4.42)|
|Max width x length for cargo, all seats down||4 feet x 8 feet, minimum|
2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans - Interior Dimensions
|Head Room||39.8 (1010.9)|
|Head Room with Sun Roof||37.2 (946.0)|
|Leg Room||40.6 (1031.2)|
|Shoulder Room||63.0 (1600.2)|
|Hip Room, SE / LX||57.0 (1447.8),|
|Hip Room, SXT, Touring, Limited||57.6 (1463.0)|
|Seat Travel||8.7 (220)|
|Front Passenger Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m)||58.7 (1.7)|
Intermediate (Middle Row)
|Head Room, SE / LX||39.2 (996.7),|
|Head Room, SXT, Touring, Limited||39.7 (1008.1)|
|Leg Room||36.3 (923.8)|
|Knee Clearance, SE / LX||3.5 (88.9),|
|Knee Clearance, SXT / Touring, Limited||3.6 (92.7)|
|Shoulder Room||64.7 (1643.4)|
|Hip Room||64.8 (1646.0)|
|Seat Travel, Optional Swivel ’n Go™ Seats||4.0 (100.6)|
|Middle Row Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m), SE / LX||53.4 (1.51),|
|Middle Row Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m), SXT, Touring, Ltd||54.0 (1.53)|
|Head Room||37.9 (961.9)|
|Leg Room, SE, LX||37.6 (995.0),|
|Leg Room, SXT, Touring, Limited||31.8 (807.7)|
|Knee Clearance||4.4 (111.8)/6.2 (157.5)|
|Shoulder Room||62.0 (1574.8)|
|Hip Room||48.7 (1236.9)|
|Rear Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m), SE, LX||51.1 (1.4),|
|Rear Volume, SXT, Touring, Limited||43.2 (1.2)|
|Cargo Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m), SE, LX||144.4 (4.1),|
|Cargo Volume, SXT, Touring, Limmited||140.6 (4.0)|
|Behind Second-row Seats, cu. ft. (cu. m)||83.0 (2.4)|
|Aft of Third-row Seat, cu. ft. (cu. m)||32.7 (0.93)|
|Passenger + Cargo Volume, cu. ft. (cu. m), SE, LX||199.9 (5.7),|
|Passenger + Cargo Volume, SXT, Touring, Limited||192.5 (5.45)|
|Maximum Cargo Height, SE, LX||48.56 (1233.4)|
|Maximum Cargo Height, SXT, Touring, Limited||46.16 (1172.4)|