Dodge Grand Caravan Interior
Auto writers praise the Grand Caravan for being versatile and family-friendly. Popular Mechanics comes close to summing up the opinions of reviewers when they call the Grand Caravan "a kind of rec room on wheels." Like any good rec room, it has room to stretch out in, comfortable places to sit and lots of toys to play with. "Depending on options," says the , "this one can be turned from rolling stock model to a dining room to a movie theater to something best suited for hauling sheets of plywood." About the only complaint reviewers have concerns plastic materials in the interior trim. "Interior assembly is mostly top notch," says Consumer Guide, "but hard plastic surfaces and low-grade materials dominate the cabin and disappoint at these prices." Motor Trend says that "[t]he Japanese machines still hold an edge in interior finish -- for instance, the dashes in the Honda and the Toyota are large, unbroken expanses of rich-looking material, whereas the Dodge uses harder plastic with an abundance of cut-lines."
Consumer Guide mostly likes the layout of the dashboard: "Large dials and gauges are simple to locate and easy to read. Most controls are plainly marked and work as expected, though audio controls suffer undo complication on models with [the optional] navigation system or Chrysler's MyGig media management system." Some reviewers note that Dodge has chosen an unusual location for the gearshift. "It sits up between the top of the center stack and the gauges," says Edmunds. "I'm sure Chrysler has a great story behind this design, but to me it just seems weird. The reach to the shifter may be shorter than on some other vans, but it's not necessarily more convenient because of its proximity to the steering wheel." Cars.com adds: "One feature that's sure to spark controversy is the gear selector, which looks like a center-console shifter but is located high on the dashboard, to the right of the gauges. It attempts to combine the benefits of a console shifter with those of a steering column-mounted type. For the optional AutoStick manual shifting mode, it's not a bad location." But Consumer Guide feels that the position of the shifter is "an apparent novelty that quickly becomes second nature to use."
Reviewers praise the Grand Caravan's innovative seating arrangement. While the old Stow 'n Go seats, which fold into the floor to increase cargo space, are still available, reviewers are quite vocal about their love for the alternative: the optional Swivel 'n Go seats that allow the second row to rotate backward to face the third row. (The seats cannot be rotated while the vehicle is in motion) "Rearward-facing seats are long overdue," says Cars.com. "They let passengers face each other, and because the two seats rotate independently and slide fore and aft, even second-row passengers can face each other and talk or play patty-cake ... whatever it is that family types do." About.com finds the new seats more comfortable than the older ones: "One of my complaints about Stow 'n Go was that the seats were too small for adult behinds; the new ones feel much better. I thought the Swivel 'n Go seats were too close to the floor, but the kids didn't seem to mind."
The Grand Caravan seats seven and Cars.com thinks that's "probably the only truly comfortable and workable number even in vans and SUVs with eight positions." The second and third rows are generally deemed to be comfortable. "On models with optional seating," says Consumer Guide, "2nd-row passengers enjoy roomy, supportive buckets, though larger Swivel 'n Go seats offer more comfort and back support than Stow 'n Go units." About.com finds that "[t]he real surprise was the third-row bench: It has decent thigh support and legroom for adults."
The Grand Caravan has interior features galore, though some of the most impressive are optional. Edmunds says "when it comes to those gotta-have gadgets, the Caravan is like a big, boxy version of Batman's utility belt." Motor Trend adds, "The only missing detail is an onboard popcorn machine." Similarly, Autobytel feels, "Inside is where the spice is, thanks to a collection of cool features rather than just one item." Many of the features are aimed at keeping younger passengers entertained (and out of the hair of the grown-up drivers). "Chrysler has packed in enough digital distractions ... to keep even a child with ADHD happily distracted," says The Car Connection. Standard features include an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 capability and four speakers. Optional features include a dual-screen (or single-screen on the SE) DVD entertainment system, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer, Sirius satellite radio and Sirius backseat TV, video remote control, wireless headphones and air conditioning with three-zone automatic temp control.
The Car Connection gushes over the Grand Caravan's entertainment system, both standard and optional: "The basic sound system comes with MP3 capability and optional Sirius satellite radio. If you cough up the cash, however, you get three rows of A/V technology, with separate video screens for each row. (The optional navigation screen, in the center console, can be used to watch a movie when the van is in Park.)" They add that the "second and third rows actually get to watch their own individual programs. And for 2008, Chrysler launches the new Sirius TV, which offers three channels of satellite video: Disney, the Cartoon Network and Nick Mobile."
Several reviewers mention the optional MyGIG system. The Car Connection notes that the system "adds a 20-gigabyte hard drive that can store thousands of songs."
With the Stow'n Go seating, the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan has what Consumer Guide describes as "[v]ast space available." According to Dodge, there is 143.8 cubic feet (140.1 on the SXT) of storage behind the front row of seats, 82.6 (83.6 on the SXT) behind the second row and 32.3 behind the third row. However, Consumer Guide also complains that Stow 'n Go can be difficult to use: "Stow 'n Go second-row seating disappears into [the] van floor as advertised, but [the] process of folding the seat into the floor is more complicated and clumsy than it should be."