Thanks to a connection in the DC Metro Moms Blog, I was given an opportunity to test drive the all-new Dodge Grand Caravan (the one on all the commercials and television shows like The View). Only 50 moms in the DC area were given this opportunity so I was very lucky (wooo hoo!)
From the start, I felt like I was cheating on my mini-van. I had a fling with a definite upgrade, and only came back to my van because I couldn't keep the Dodge Grand Caravan. My Chevy Venture was pretty ticked because it decided to no longer provide me heat when I drove it again (hubby's working on making it feel better and I think it might be coming around).
All those commercials that say the Caravan is a home on wheels? So true! You can eat, play board and/or card games, video games, watch television, eat on a table, watch movies, tailgate, use GPS navigation, make phone calls from a built-in dashboard phone service, and more.
The middle sweats swivel to face the back row and you can put a table up in between for games and eating. This picture is bad because there was no flash, but this is after a trip to McDonald's and my kids are eating using the table:
There are TWO...count 'em.....two pull down screens with two separate, wireless headphones. I can listen to Sirius satellite radio in the front, Matthew can play Playstation or watch a DVD in the middle, while Natalie watches Sirius Satellite television in the back (it comes with three channels....Disney, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon).
Even the puppy enjoyed the ride. :) We took her along on a trip to my Grandma's too (an hour and a half away) and it was like packing for a newborn! But everything fit perfectly in the spacious trunk:
There was plenty of room for the dog's crate, supplies, groceries (for lunch) with room to spare.
And those back seats? With a push of a button they automatically fold down into the floor to make even more room, or you can have one side up and one down, and....my favorite setting...they fold back and down to provide tailgate seats! Again, all with just a push of a button.
There's also storage in the floorboards if I had needed more room, a feature I used when I had a few grocery bags to toss into the van (closer to me in the front and easier to get to than the trunk).
The side doors automatically open and close and the windows on the doors automatically roll down, as well. I can't tell you how many times my kids wanted the windows down in the back in my old van. I really loved this feature! There were also pull-up screens for when the sun was shining too brightly, something you usually have to purchase separately and install with an ugly suction cup on the window.
The only problem I had with the van was with the passenger-side back door. My driveway slopes uphill a bit and there was one day that I could not get the door to shut automatically. I sat outside in the cold for about twenty minutes trying to get it to close.
I finally got it to shut by hitting the button and waiting until it was almost closed, then hitting it with my butt so that it was forced close. That wasn't fun! I thought it was because of the hill but when it happened again, I pulled into the road (which was a level surface) and tried to close it there with no luck (and had to go back to the button/butt trick again).
I have heard that mine was not the only one with this problem so hopefully Dodge does something to fix it.
Despite the one flaw, I would still buy this beauty if I could. I'll take a little door trouble for all the entertainment it provided to my kids and for all the features I personally loved.
Look how perfect the van looked in my driveway:
It was totally my trophy van! We were meant to be! How could it leave me?
Devra and I were *this* close to running away in the van together but she didn't want to miss reruns of Punky Brewster. ;)
Natalie summed up my feelings pretty well with this expression the morning that it left us: