Last post on May 15, 2013 at 7:51 AM
You are in the Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan
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Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Van
#385 of 1446 We finally got one too... comparing to the Freestar...
Dec 06, 2004 (5:48 pm)
I finally replaced my 2002 Windstar (Lease expired) with a new 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, w/premium package, which includes 3-zone automatic temperature, trip computer, power liftgate, touring suspension, among other features.
I have it for nearly a week now, and am almost satisfied, but (hold your breath) there are still some things I like way better in my Windstar – every change is difficult, and changing a vehicle is no different.
I was undecided which way to go, Ford Freestar (SEL) or Dodge Grand Caravan (SXT) – they are both very similar equipped, and are much lower priced than any other van. I definitely needed the rear seat which flushes into the floor, so GM vans were out of the question. And since I’m leasing (now called “smart buy”), long term reliability and resale value was 2 things I did not care about.
Let me say first what I like about the new Dodge Caravan. The ride is smooth and quiet; power is more than enough for my needs, although the engine is not as quiet as I expected; turning circle is also much tighter than Windstar/Freestar; the LCD of the radio is much superior over the Windstar/Freestar; much more room for passengers in all seating positions (except toe room for 3rd row seaters); the 60/40 rear seat is just terrific and much superior to the one piece design of the Freestar (though I don’t need the second row stow’n’go seats which are very uncomfortable – according to many of my passengers); And from what I’ve read, mileage should also be much better than the Ford vans. So far I can not test it because I still have less than 300 miles, and my trip computer averages 14.6 MPG; I also like the 8-way power seats over 6-way from Ford.
Now what I like better in the Ford Freestar: Lights! So many more lights all over, including lamps at the bottom of the car (where the pedals are located) for the driver & passenger, and second row stepwell lamps, and I love the baby sleeping mode (where all bottom lights illuminate and none of the overhead lights, so if you (or a baby) sleep it won’t disturb you when a passenger opens a door to leave).
Then there is the illuminated cruise control, illuminated audio controls, signal mirrors and puddle lamps below the outside mirrors; and illuminated controls for power door locks & windows. I also like the cargo lamp in the Freestar over the liftgate lamp in the Caravan, since the Freestar’s lamp lights straight on the cargo, unlike the Caravan which illuminated the outside of the van when liftgate is open, not on the cargo direct. But the Caravan does have standard 3rd row reading lamps (which helps brighten the rear area), where the Freestar only offers it on the Limited model. I also like in the Freestar when you unlock the van, the headlamps automatically comes on (even on the manual controlled headlamps equipped models).
I think the seats in the Freestar are a little more comfortable, but this may change soon, since the seats in the Caravan are still extremely firm, and will probably get better and softer with the time.
After test driving the Freestar, I must say that the handling is much better than the Windstar, and not far away from DC vans. Actually, to say the truth, I think that the 2005 DC vans are way too soft (the ’03 T&C I drive in business is much better in both, firm ride and handling), even though I have the “touring” suspension, the ride is way too soft, and you don’t feel connected to the road at all, plus it have some side to side rocking. This may be due to the underbody redesign with the stow’n’go seats. So I would prefer the ride and handling of the Freestar over the ’05 Dodge Grand Caravan (but not over the ’03). Too bad I did not test driven the DC before, b/c I assumed it will be the same as the T&C I drive at work.
Glove box is extremely small and useless in the Dodge Caravan, and not much better in the Freestar. I’ve rented 2 weeks ago a small Mazda3, which, among other excellent things, have a HUGE glove box (about 4 times as big) which was, by the way, illuminated. Both, the Freestar and Caravan, lack a light in the glove box.
Today was the first real snow here in upstate NY, and I just wished myself that DC vans should still offer the heated stripes in the bottom of the windshield (wiper de-icer). It would be so useful.
Another thing I like in the Dodge Caravan which Freestar lacks, is a drawer under the front passenger seat, which is very useful to store smaller items. On the other hand, the Freestar has a cover on the bin below the climate controls which is also very useful. The Caravans bin is useless with no cover. And Freestar also have the bin on top of the windshield, and much more useful storage bins and bottle holders on the doors which DC don’t have.
The Freestar offers panic assist brakes, all-speed traction control and stability control, while DC vans offer none of them, with the exception of low-speed traction (up to 30 or 35 mph). Big difference in safety.
I also think the transmission in the Freestar is a bit smoother than the DC. But the engine is definitely much more refined in the DC vans, although my van still vibrates slightly while idle.
Other things I like in the Freestar over the DC vans: 10 minute power accessory delay (vs. 45 seconds on the DC); separate remote control for lock/unlock doors – although you schlep less things with all the buttons built-into the key (as DC vans), it’s very difficult to use without looking each time what button you press; Keypad entry; Controls for rear wiper much smarter design in the Freestar; Outside mirrors is closer to the doors and don’t have that big blind spot DC vans have – but both, the Freestar and Caravan have relatively small mirrors, in contrast to the Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest which have HUGE useful mirrors; fuel tank capacity (Freestar have 26 gallon vs. DC have 20 gallon – even though the DC have better mileage.)
That’s approximately my observes the first few days, having had a Windstar for 3 years (with almost no problems) and test driving Freestars, and decided on a Dodge Grand Caravan. I will definitely find some more issues as time passes, and I will probably post them here.
If Chrysler / Dodge read this board, I again ask them: Please restore all the good stuff you eliminated the last few years from your vans! You used to be the best and most luxury on the market; don’t let yourself fall more and more. True, you have stow’n’go seats, but that’s not enough to compete with other competitions. Bring back the illuminated key ring; The safety/reflector lamps on the front doors; Dual liftgate lamps; Dual lamps on sun visors with variable brightness; Visor extender; Covers for all the storage bins around the van, included the bin below the climate control and cup holders, and included the 3d row seat bins; Light in the glove box; Wiper de-icer; Illuminate all controls for easy night viewing; and then copy some more stuff from your competitors. I really hope the
#386 of 1446 Re: DC deleted some of the nice features. [samnoe]
Dec 06, 2004 (6:29 pm)
Good post. Agree that DC was unwise (stupid?) to eliminate some good stuff.
My Chrysler T&C LX has most of those nice items you mentioned...and the LX was the "bottom of the line" Town & Country in 2002.
#387 of 1446 Town and Country vs. Dodge GCV
Dec 07, 2004 (8:44 pm)
I am interested in your thoughts on Dodge T&C TOuring vs,. Dodge SXT with power lift gate. Price is $1000 different with very few different options (tire pressure monitoring). Dealer says that T&C had quieter foam installed into frame and also has extra silicon to reduce road noise? Vans look the same to me though.
SO, what is the difference in the two and should I just buy the cheaper of the two.
#388 of 1446 Re: Town and Country vs. Dodge GCV [4roses]
Dec 08, 2004 (6:08 am)
I was in the same boat. Let me tell you from my experience: All I wanted was "rear backup sensor", which is very important to me. Of course I also needed power seats, trip computer, the 3.8L engine (more power than the 3.3L), and some other stuff.
Problem in the Town Country is that you need to get leather in order to get some of the above features, and I HATE leather. So I went with the Dodge SXT with premium package and I was all set, plus I got it for about $1,300 cheaper.
So it comes down to leather choice: If you need the leather, and you take the luxury group with the T&C, yes, it will cost you more but get some more stuff (but NOT more isolation - they are both equal quiet and your dealer don't know what he is talking about). You'll get on the T&C auto dimming mirrors inside and out; I think the vehicle information center with tire pressure monitor, and some upscale materials (I mean aluminum or wood), better stereo, Automatic headlamps (which also turns on when wipers is engaged - of course you can turn it off if you don't like it), and appearance - T&C looks better than Caravan in the front, grille, headlamps, fog lamps, bodyside cladding, and rear chrome piece on the liftgate.
If you don't want leather, Dodge Caravan is the way to go as I did. If you take the leather with the Caravan SXT, it will not be much cheaper than T&C, and you loose some stuff.
But Dodge is definitely the cheaper if money is the object here. They are both the same with only different packages. Both have the same noise isolation.
#389 of 1446 Re: Town and Country vs. Dodge GCV [samnoe]
Dec 08, 2004 (7:27 am)
How does the back-up sensor work? My understanding is it beeps if there is something within 5-6 feet of it. But in most parking lots that will be the case, especially if you pull forward. Do you really listen to the sensor or do you end up ignoring it because it goes off often? Thanks.
#390 of 1446 Re: Town and Country vs. Dodge GCV [samnoe]
Dec 08, 2004 (3:57 pm)
Great info. Thanks. The TC dealer says he will beat the DGC, which is $900 less, so it is definatley a hard decision.
#391 of 1446 Re: Backup Sensor [denver5357]
Dec 08, 2004 (4:04 pm)
I like the way it works in the DC vans. It have warning lamps in the rear of the van (which you watch while looking in the rearview mirror), the closer you get to an object more and more lights comes on - if the object is on the right side then the lamps on the right side is more than those on the left side - and vice versa. When reaching about 12 inches near the object and all lamps are already on, then you hear a some beeps, and the beeps get closer to each other until you hear a continuously beep, which means you're almost touching the object, than you know it's time for a real stop.
#392 of 1446 TC trunk release question
Dec 09, 2004 (12:44 pm)
My wife just bought a slightly used '05 T&C to replace her '93 Grand Voyager at 147k miles. The GV was leaking oil from every gasket, but otherwise still running OK.
The one option the TC does not have that she wants is a trunk lid release button on the dash. Does anyone know of an aftermarket version?
#393 of 1446 Re: TC trunk release question [silverbullet4]
Dec 09, 2004 (1:22 pm)
Yes, but only with the power tailgate.
#394 of 1446 Caravan SXT vs. T&C Signature
Dec 13, 2004 (3:56 pm)
I'm looking at short wheelbase vans - specifically the Caravan SXT and T&C Signature Series.
Is there anything to pick between them? It doesn't appear you can get the 3.8. Is there an equivilent of the Sport package - larger wheels and tirs, stiffer suspension - for the SWB versions?
I want a well appointed one for business, other things like power doors make no difference, in fact for me they are a negative.