Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dodge Caravan

I've been seeing quite a few new Dodge Caravans. It's true that the Caravan is not exactly an enthusiasts car, but it is definitely a major player in the automotive landscape with huge sales across North America. It's one of the few Chrysler products available in Europe as well.

The model has just gone through a redesign, it's first one since 1995. The 1995-2007 Caravan was not a stunning design, but it was pleasant looking and seemed to get the job done. 13 years is a long time for a product cycle, but I stand behind a manufacturer who believes in a model and tweaks it over the years.

The new model seems to have been designed to remind people of Chrysler's successful line of Ram trucks. I don't love the design as I find it looks a but fat in the rear end. It weighs over 4300 lbs. Ouch. I think that Chrysler went the wrong way. Frankly I don't see why they made it bigger. It's simply huge.

Chrysler seems to be going in the opposite direction of progress: bigger heavier body, bigger engine. They'll probably sell a bunch of them, but if they do, it shows that people will buy anything that's big, shiny and new.

I am more impressed these days with cars featuring ingenious packaging, like the Kia Rondo or Honda Fit. This is more in the spirit of the first generation of the Dodge Caravan: making a lot of space with not a lot of car.

My father had a 1985 Dodge Caravan. It was spacious and pleasant to ride in. The overall length of the car was roughly the same as our Dodge Aries. The 4-cylinder may not have been sufficient for the needs of many owners, but I think that the first generation was much more ingenious than the present iteration. So much for progress.

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