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2008-2011 Chrysler Town & Country and 2008-2011 Dodge Caravan Minivans

2008 chrysler town & country night lightingThe minivans were only 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 and our seven-day test drive with video

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.

seating and sleeping

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.

Seven-day test drive

Stow 'n Go was standard and Swivel 'n Go was an option — one not chosen by the vast majority of buyers. 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. A standard bench middle row would also be available, based on popular demand.

Town & Country dashboard

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.” 

Sales figures showed that many prospective buyers did not have the same faith.

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. With late availability, larger nine-inch dual overhead DVD screens with swiveling third row was added. (Most of this was predicted by oh20.)

Across the board, upgraded brakes reduced noise and harshness while improving performance; the 2008s had major brake problems with early wear on pads and rotors, which the company later honored, going so far as to provide refunds to customers (on demand).

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. Few in the general public seemed to notice, preferring Japanese minivans for their “higher gas mileage.”

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

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 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.”

Spokesman children rear view conversation mirrorKathy 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 with all-row supplemental side-curtain air bags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with traction control and brake assist, the integrated child booster seat, rear back-up camera, a rearview interior mirror, and ParkSense® rear back-up system.

2008 chrysler minivans

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.

2008 dodge caravan

Three seating configurations were available for 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 second- and third-row fold-in-the-floor seats, and the 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 power third-row seat also was available. (Third row seats stowed into the floor regardless of the seat system; second row seats stowed if you did not get the Swivel seats.)

2008 chrysler minivans

Features (some were optional) included a removable sliding front console; remote start; heated first- and second-row leather or cloth seats; first- and second-row power windows; second- and third-row retractable sun shades; rear-pillar, ambient halo lighting; LED reading lamps; map lights; and a dual- or tri-zone heating and cooling system.

dual video screens power video glove compartment

The entertainment system could play different DVDs at the same time; a MyGIG™ CD/DVD/HDD/MP3/satellite radio had voice-activated capability, touch screen and real-time traffic and navigation, and hands-free cellphone system. There were 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, and apparently unwanted by many customers, was streaming video, supplied by Sirius satellites.

minivan chairs with table

Minivan models

head onThe 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 brands.

Powertrains in 2008 were the 240 horsepower 4.0 liter V6 with six-speed automatic; the 198 hp 3.8 liter V6 with six-speed automatic; and the 170 hp 3.3 liter V6 (flex-fuel) with four-speed automatic. The six-speed automatic was retuned, with different shift points.

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, making it the most fuel efficient minivan on the market.

For more photos and seat details, see our auto show coverage.

4-liter engine

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. The Missouri plant was shut down later in the run.

inside the 2008 Dodge Caravan minivans

Minivan alternatives

Kathy Graham was head of minivan publicity. Coming from a family of motorcycle racers, she 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 do not tend to be a representative sample of customers.

  • Six-speed automatic with 3.3 engine. This was discussed at Chrysler. It would have been helpful for the 3.3 to have the low first gear for quick launches, and a 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. The four speed worked better with the 3.3, according to Kathy, because of the shift points and ratios.
  • dodge grand caravanPerformance version. A performance minivan, such as an SRT version, would help dispel the notion that minivans were dull. 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, 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.
  • Stick-shift. The market was far too small even when Chrysler did make a stick-shift minivan. She estimated about 900 sales per year, too few to justify stocking the parts in American dealers and going through EPA and crash tests. 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 low when it was offered, with fewer than 10% of buyers opting for it. 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 base model [and presumably the Dodge Journey].

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, 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."

The primary differences appeared to be in the suspension tuning and dashboard graphics, along with obvious styling changes inside and out. The Volkswagen used Chrysler’s top trim materials.

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. EPA estimates were based on 2008 figures and were identical to 2007 gas-mileage estimates incorporating the EPA’s 2007-to-2008 correction factor. Engines may have been retuned for a broader torque curve, at the cost of a small reduction in peak horsepower numbers.

 Engine Horsepower Torque Speeds EPA MPG
4.0 liter 251 hp (187 kW) 259 lb.-ft. (351 N•m) 6 speed 16/23 (2008)
17/25 (2009)
3.8 liter 200 hp 245 lb-ft 6 speed 16/23
3.3 liter 180 hp 210 lb-ft 4 speed 17/24

3.8 liter V6

Specification Inches (mm)
Wheelbase 121.2 (3078.2)
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 6.1 (154.2)
Fuel Tank Capacity, gal. (L) 20.5 (77.6)
EPA Interior Passenger Volume, cu. ft. 163.5/156.1
Max cago width x length, all seats down 4 feet x 8 feet, min

2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans - Interior Dimensions

swivel chairs
Front

 

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, Others 57.6 (1463.0)
Seat Travel 8.7 (220)
Front Passenger Vol., cu. ft. 58.7

 

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, Opt. Swivel ’n Go™ 4.0 (100.6)
Middle Row Vol, cu. ft. SE / LX 53.4
Middle Row Volume, cu. ft., Others 54.0

 

Rear Row

 

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

 

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)
Our seven-day test drive - now with video!

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