Chrysler's Dodge Grand Caravan R/T is set to be displayed at the Chicago Auto Show. Internally, this is referred to as the “man van” since its styling and features are designed to appeal to men. Chrysler has chosen to focus on attracting the men for the minivan segment as the women have shown a strong preference for sport-utility vehicles.
The showrooms are expected to receive the vehicle sometime in the second quarter. In an interview, Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's head designer, said, “It's an experiment.” He said that the company wants to know if the minivan can be made to appeal to a guy who used to drive a sports car but needs a minivan.
Chrysler has fitted its entire minivan line with upgraded interiors and a new engine. The man van will feature a black interior with red accent stitching, a performance-tuned suspension and a sound system with nine speakers and a 506-watt amplifier.
Researcher Autodata Corp. said that Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. both released redesigned versions of their minivans in 2010. These companies are now working to broaden their appeal as U.S. sales in the segment dropped to 460,154 last year from 1.37 million in 2000.
Art Spinella, who studies new vehicle buyers as president of CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore., said that the company faces a challenge as the minivan market is basically a flat market. Spinella believes that this market has “reached its saturation point.” Chrysler has yet to reveal pricing information.
Serving as the core of the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T is the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that provides up to 283 horsepower of output and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, without compromising fuel efficiency. Mated to a six-speed automatic transaxle, this engine is more powerful than its 3.8-liter V-6 engine predecessor that provides 197 horsepower of output and 230 lb.-ft. of torque.
With these numbers, drivers of the Dodge Grand Caravan R/T could still experience a spirited driving experience even when driving for a family. Featuring a sleek yet sporty styling and flexible seating, the new Dodge Grand Caravan R/T is loaded with a series of entertainment features and cool storage options.
It also comes with a 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T has a distinct group of elements, including a "dipped" body-color grille and body-color side moldings. It also rides on exclusive 17-inch wheels wrapped in lower-rolling resistance tires.
Moreover, the 2011 Grand Caravan is available with a new driver-selectable fuel-economizer mode that allows drivers to change the transaxle shift schedule – with a flip switch – to optimize fuel efficiency.
Also, the 2011 Grand Caravan now features a 12 mm lower ride height and a new spoiler as well as a reduced brake caliper and rear bearing drag – all allowing the vehicle to boast of class-leading aerodynamics and outstanding fuel economy.
Inside, the new Dodge Grand Caravan R/T features an all-black cabin with exclusive perforated black leather seats with red stitching as well as leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Additionally, the new Dodge Grand Caravan R/T comes with a premium sound system featuring nine-speakers, a subwoofer and 506-watt amplifier. It also features a performance-tuned suspension.
With these specs, the new Dodge Grand Caravan R/T is expected to appeal primarily to those who have already piloted a performance sedan, but requires the functionality of a minivan. They would be able to experience the R/T’s superb handling and agility when it arrives at showrooms in the United States in Spring 2011.