Dodge President and CEO Ralph Gilles introduces the Grand Caravan R/T at the 2011 Chicago Auto ShowDodge
Talk about a power play.
Dodge unveiled six new high-performance vehicles at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, everything from a 175 mph Charger sports sedan to the latest version of its Challenger muscle car. But the most interesting one on the stand may be...a minivan.
Known affectionately at Dodge HQ as the “Man Van,” the Grand Caravan R/T is the company’s first serious effort to inject style and speed into its top selling mom-mobile. With it, the resurgent automaker joins the competition from Honda, Toyota and Nissan who have all tried to add a little testosterone to their latest minivan offerings.
Along with a body-colored grille, side moldings and rooftop spoiler, the seven-passenger Grand Caravan R/T features unique alloy wheels and a best-in-class 283 horsepower, courtesy of an all-new V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Also on tap is a lowered suspension that’s 40 percent stiffer than the one on the stock model, which makes it drive “like a sport hatchback,” according to Dodge President and CEO Ralph Gilles.
Continuing the tough-guy theme, the interior is decked out in an all-black, “man cave”-style motif, with perforated leather upholstery, a 506-watt stereo with subwoofer and an optional dual screen entertainment system with an individual monitor for each of the two rear rows of seats.
But at a starting price of $31,430, will the R/T sell to guys who’ve shied away from this type of car in the past?
“I know it will," Gilles says, "because there’s an unmet need out there. I have friends that have minivans that don’t even have kids, because they need the space.”
Apparently they’re not alone, Gilles says his wife wants a Grand Caravan R/T, too.
Fox Car Report is on Twitter. Follow us @foxcarreport